Matthew Munson: Learning about the election process

Matthew and Bryan

This isn’t a column about politics, and I don’t intend to start turning it into such a column now, but I am looking forward to the upcoming election. That might make me sound a little sad, but I’m not worried; I want to teach Bryan a bit more about politics and the election process. We’ve been talking more about politics recently; he might be 13, but if this next government lasts for five years, he’ll be able to vote at the election after this one.

I want to encourage Bryan to start formulating his own opinions about politics; it’s important he decides what his own views and opinions are on the important topics. I’m careful to be honest about my own views, but I always try and offer opposing opinions as well; he has a right to form his opinions without me imposing my views as absolute fact.

I know people with different views (my parents are two such examples) on different things, and it’s important for Bryan to hear different points of view being discussed. I’m teaching Bryan about what an election looks like, and what might be of interest to him. We’re even planning to stay up for the election night itself, to watch the results; it’s entirely possible this could be quite a memorable election, so I want him to have it as a memory and a reference point in the future. If I can fan the flames of an interest in politics and encourage him to think critically about different political opinions, then I’ll be doing my job as his dad.

I must have voted for the first time in the 2001 general election (I would have been 15 – nearly 16 in the 1997 election; I remember watching the TV on the Friday after that election), but I don’t honestly remember the details. I’ve voted in every election since and see it as a privilege to have a voice. I hope to encourage Bryan to think of it in the same way.

Life is back to normal at Casa de Munson for Bryan’s last term of Year 8. He has a show for his dance school at the end of July, which is taking up a lot of his time, and working hard at school. One of my jobs is to help him get to where he needs to be and also help him keep track of his schedule – and, lastly, to help him find time to relax. Oh, and spending time with my son as well; that’s important.

The dance show is a great opportunity for Bryan to be involved in something he is incredibly passionate about. He does a range of different dance styles, and he lives and breathes this passion. I’m proud of his commitment, and if we can make it work, then I’m happy; he has made friends there, and is clearly developing his skills. It makes him happy, and as a dad, that is the best thing I can hope for.

I’ve never been much of a dancer. I actually tried a street dance class once when I was younger, but I was an elephant trying to swim through treacle. My limbs didn’t coordinate with each other – I’m dyspraxic, so that’s not entirely unexpected – and I wasn’t very graceful. I’m not very graceful when I’m walking, so being a coordinated dancer was definitely not going to be a skill I could ever expect to be. Thankfully, however, my skills are geared towards writing, a skill for which no great physical aptitude is required – merely a sturdy chair and a knowledge of the English language. Check and check.

But I will be there at the end of July, watching Bryan in his dance show (as will his grandparents), and I will be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved.


  1. Dance lessons sound like a great idea. I wish they had been available in my young day. As for learning about politics in the UK ,it s fairly straightforward.
    We have elections every few years. There are two main Parties that always win. Their political and economic views are roughly the same so little really changes each time. The media only discuss these two Parties and try to pretend that this is a real debate! There are other Parties but they get ridiculed or ignored unless they have some kind of distinctive personality in charge. Whichever Party wins will have gained barely half of all the votes yet this will presented as an astonishing victory or even a landslide, changing politics for ever. Until they swap positions again at a subsequent election. No one will admit that most voters will have voted for some Party other than the winner. We carry on like this with the people getting more and more confused and dismissive of the whole thing. Finally like Germany in the 1930s, about 40% of the voters support a rabid Fascist who covers himself in patriotic flags and military parades. THE END.

  2. Regarding politics I think what is a waste of time is the small parties who do not have a cat in hell chance of winning but they get endless media coverage regardless of the fact they will never be on power.

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