THE question of when it might be appropriate for children to start engaging in politics is one always sure to prompt debate.
Views range from the assertion that kids don’t vote so should have no say right through to the idea that children will inherit the earth so have a vested interest in its future.
The issue is back in the news after a Sydney newspaper reported this week that the "partly taxpayer-funded Australian Youth Climate Coalition" was coaching to skip school next month to take part in a climate change protest.
Naturally, there were those who applauded the idea of young people engaging in political activism while others argued just as passionately that young people should know their place - in this case, school.
In truth, however, both sides are probably right and wrong.
It does make sense to encourage young minds to question and challenge what is the around them but it should be at an appropriate level.
The key to forming any reasoned opinion is having the knowledge and understanding of the key elements of any argument.
So if the question concerns a school uniform, the right age to start learning to drive or appropriate usage of mobile phones, then any young person can readily draw on their own life experience to help form the view.
But this is a question surrounding climate science, an issue that has taken experts decades to comprehend. How then could the average child hope to form any reasoned or nuanced view?
In cases such as this their opinions are, by necessity, largely guided by those who look up to – most commonly their parents and their teachers.
So in cases such as this, it’s not unfair to suggest they are being used as pawns in a bigger game.
None of which is to suggest that young people should not be in courage to take an interest in politics – it’s in our country's best interest that they do. But, just like learning any new skill, it is not a one-step process.
You do not teach your child to swim by throwing them in the deep end of the pool and you do not teach a child to think critically by telling them what their position should be.
So maybe the best place for those young people is in school, learning the skills they need to critically assess every angle of the debate.