The Future Project: Gen Z Kids Speak Out on the Issues of Today

On today’s episode of Trade Wins, we don’t have one guest but a group of 20 New York elementary school 5th graders who join WTCA Executive Director-Business Development Robin van Puyenbroeck for a discussion on the biggest challenges facing the world today. This class of 2021 – soon-to-be middle schoolers – speak from the heart and shed light on many of the pressing issues faced around the world – from global warming and hunger/poverty to racism and gender inequality.

We are given the opportunity to hear their thoughts on potential solutions to those issues, what they would share with President Biden if they were to meet with him, if they think children should vote and how they would grade adults on how they are taking care of the planet and of working towards a better future for all. The podcast will also be shared with President Biden.


Robin van Puyenbroeck 0:07
Welcome to Trade Wins. I’m Robin van Puyenbroeck, your host. Today we have a really special show because I have not only one guest, but 22. Today I will have a conversation with 22 children from the 5th grade of a New York elementary school, ages 11, to hear from them how we adults are doing taking care of our planet. Are we focused on the real issues and are we working to resolve the problems? The children have worked in groups of three in the class context discussing the biggest problems we are facing, why and what solutions there are to solve those problems. I’m very excited to have this conversation with this class with 22 bright children. We’re going to get started with the first group of three coming up. Please tell us who you are and I’m going to ask you a question.

Liam 0:59
My name is Liam.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 1:01
Hello, Liam.

Liam 1:02
I think one of the top three issues is global warming. It’s a major issue known well throughout the world and I think the solution to it could be using green energy, using electric cars exclusively and pumping less gas into the air. Instead of throwing out plastic water bottles, we can drink from reusable water bottles. We can also walk and bike places instead of driving cars that use gasoline.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 1:29
Thank you for that, Liam. I think that’s a very good point. I like how you’re practically thinking about what we can do today like using less plastic and going more to glass and recyclables. How fun would it be if you could all bike to school on a bike lane? I grew up in Belgium and lived in the Netherlands for a very long time. There you have streets only for bicycles. If you go to the train station, there are thousands of bicycles. Everybody gets on a bike and goes to work and goes to school on bicycles and they don’t even see cars. I think that’s a great idea. Thank you for sharing that.

Samantha 1:59
Hi. My name is Samantha. I think one of the top three problems is racism because people are being hurt and killed because of where they’re from, what they look like and their race. Some solutions that we can do to stop this problem are to educate people on what’s right, for schools to educate kids, and to stand up to people and for people.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 2:27
It’s very good. I think we all have to be brave to stand for our principles. Liam, if I can ask you to come back as well. Sammy, tell us what is the biggest problem that we have here that we can try and solve?

Sammy 2:41
Well, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem in the world, is the negative side of social media. People are being fed misinformation from people who sometimes try to get an influence on the public so that they can seem right even when they’re not. It can also be used to find where people live. I’ve heard of a story where somebody found a man’s home just from him posting an image of his kitchen fridge or something, which is very scary to think about. Some solutions are that, on the internet and social media — just anywhere, try to be a bit less negative since when you’re online, it’s easier to be negative. If you’re a little less negative and accept other people’s opinions, it may be easier. Also, don’t always believe what everybody says on the internet. Some people have been saying many things lately and a lot of people, since it’s their favorite YouTube star or TikTok star or something, believe it, but it’s not always right.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 3:40
These are very wise words and a very, very good observation. I think we have to assume that there’s no privacy. I was showing you before the show how we can see where people tune in to the podcast. That’s pretty amazing, right? Some of you have a phone and that means that everything that goes through the phone can be picked up elsewhere. That’s basically what you’re saying, right? That there’s no privacy.

Sammy 4:02
No privacy and the amount of power and popular people on social media, the amount of influence they have is way too much for a single person.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 4:12
That is very true. Sammy, if you were to meet President Biden tomorrow, what would you tell him on this issue?

Sammy 4:18
I would tell him that he needs to focus more on the harmful side. One of the things I’ve noticed is that social media is not government-owned. I would think that the government should buy social media for one reason. If the government had bought social media then the people who run the companies can’t ban people just because they don’t like the opinion. The government is the one who voices everyone’s opinion so they can’t ban any opinions. But since they’re technically privately-owned companies, they can ban whoever they want for voicing an opinion that they don’t like. If the government owned it, maybe social media would be a bit better. It wouldn’t be a full change, but it would start progressing toward a better internet.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 4:54
You would tell the president that you would like to see more clear rules. The government can make rules as well that companies need to follow for there to be better rules, better regulations on how we work and how we deal with privacy on social media.

Sammy 5:08
Exactly. Thank you.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 5:10
How would you grade the adults if you would give them a scorecard on how they’re doing in the world?

Sammy 5:15
Well, they’re trying now. I’ve seen some things, but they haven’t gotten to it yet. I’d give them a B minus so far, but they’re getting there.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 5:24
A B minus. I’m going to write this down. This is going to be a very interesting poll. The last question for you, Sammy. Do you think children should be allowed to vote?

Sammy 5:34
The only reason I wouldn’t do that is that parents can make their kids vote for certain people. I think 18 is the right voting age because 18 is when you’re an adult and you can make your own decisions. I feel that 18 is the right time and that kids shouldn’t vote just yet.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 5:49
All right. Well, thank you so much. Let’s go back to Samantha. Samantha, I’ll ask you the same question. If you were to meet President Biden tomorrow, what would you tell him?

Samantha 5:57
Well, about my issue, I don’t know if all schools are educating people on what we think is right. I would say all the schools that aren’t educating children in that way, should educate them that way so that they know what’s right.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 6:19
All right. Then if you would give a scorecard to how the adults are handling the planet, what would be your score?

Samantha 6:26
Well, they are trying. We have more electric cars now, but at the same time, it’s getting kind of worse.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 6:38
So what grade would you give the adults?

Samantha 6:40
Probably just a B.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 6:42
All right. Do you think children should be allowed to vote?

Samantha 6:46
Well, as Sammy said, their parents could also pressure them to vote for somebody that they don’t want to. At the same time, I do think they should be able to vote just because.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 6:57
Yes. I think it’s very interesting because you each come up with different topics but they’re very related. Both Sammy and Samantha mentioned that children should vote when they’re 18 because parents can influence how they would vote, but adults are also influenced by what they read on social media and the Internet and Sammy said to not always believe what you read online. Adults can be influenced and make choices based on what they read as well. That’s great. Liam, how about you? If you were to meet the president tomorrow what would you tell him?

Liam 7:31
I would probably tell him to focus more on helping the world and to make larger changes because I don’t think the government is making large enough changes. They’re making small, good changes that add up but if we want to save the world from global warming, then we have to go all in.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 7:52
That’s very well said. How would you rate the adults? What’s your scorecard?

Liam 7:57
I would probably also rate them a B because, as I said before, they are trying to help but they’re just not cutting it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 8:10
Would you like to go vote? Do you think children should vote?

Liam 8:13
I don’t think children should vote for the same reason that they said, but voting would become a challenge between whoever has the most children because that could sway the vote entirely.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 8:29
That is a very interesting argument. If you could vote today, would you? Would you find it difficult or not?

Liam 8:37
I’d probably find it a bit embarrassing to be among a bunch of adults and do something kind of serious. I probably would vote if my parents allowed it, adding to the fact that parents would probably influence children to vote.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 8:51
All right. Well, thank you so much for this very interesting conversation. Let’s have our next three guests come up.

Caroline 9:00
Hi, I’m Caroline. Originally, I was doing child abuse, but while I was researching it, I realized that there was so much more to what was causing that. I think the biggest problem in the world is humans ourselves. Many people don’t act out of what they think is right but instead just for their financial gain, both with money and the market and also for their relationships and their mental stability. People can influence things if they have enough power. Some authority figures aren’t authority figures because they worked hard for it or anything like that. They did work hard for it, but they didn’t do it out of the kindness of their heart — they did it because they wanted something and they wanted their opinions to be forced on society as a whole. We as a species have advanced with technology — we have all these iPhones and media — but we haven’t advanced since we were cavemen. We aren’t good.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 10:23
That is a very, very deep and thoughtful analysis, Caroline. How can we all do better?

Caroline 10:31
Well, I think future generations are the ones that are going to influence our society. If we teach our children, us, that we can be good people and we can do things for the better not because we want to get something, I think that would make humans and this world a better place.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 10:57
Well, that is something we shall listen to. Thank you, Caroline. Nathan?

Nathan 11:02
I think the biggest problem we are facing is pollution. We’re destroying our environment and it harms us. Pollution is horrible but there are a few solutions. We need to use reusable and recyclable resources instead of plastic. We also need to compost and stop littering. We only have one Earth and we need to protect it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 11:23
What can we do to protect the planet?

Nathan 11:25
Well, littering is a very big problem. In New York City, streets and sidewalks are covered in trash and it’s just disgusting to walk around there. There is also a lot of plastic in the ocean, and using reusable and recyclable resources instead of that would be a huge help.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 11:42
Okay, that’s very practical. So who’s next?

Sienna 11:46
Hi, I’m Sienna and I think racism is a big problem in the world. I think it’s a problem because every day you see people on the news who were killed or people didn’t agree with them just because of their skin color. I don’t think that is right. People should think new instead of old because it’s not like back then, it’s now. A lot of people grew up being racist because their parents were racist and then that can continue through generations.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 12:31
I took note of what you said about thinking new. I think that’s so true. What can we do today to fight racism and change that?

Sienna 12:43
I think there are small things and there are also big things. I think people should be much more accepting because people that have different skin colors are also people. We’re all human beings and we’re all living organisms.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 13:00
Absolutely. If you were to meet the president tomorrow, what would you tell him?

Sienna 13:03
I would tell him he could do a better job with helping violence and racism settle down, and having to explain to a lot of people to be accepting of this because it’s like people act childish for that one reason.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 13:33
If you were to grade the adults, what’s your score? I’m keeping track of the score here for the grading. So I have two B’s and one B minus. What would be your score?

Sienna 13:43
I would say a B just because they are doing well, but they could do better on influencing people about racism.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 13:55
Okay. Would you like to go vote if you could? Do you think children should vote?

Sienna 14:00
Well, not exactly. I feel that sometimes children can be immature. I think 18 is a really good age just because that’s when you’re officially an adult. You can just make better decisions at that age.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 14:21
Well, thank you for sharing that. Nathan, what would you tell the president if you would meet him tomorrow?

Nathan 14:27
I would tell him he’s doing a great job and to keep working hard and that I like his approach to pollution. I also think he’s doing a great job handling COVID-19.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 14:39
All right. What would be your scorecard for the adults?

Nathan 14:43
I’d give them a B minus.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 14:46
All right. Would you go and vote if you could?

Nathan 14:50
No, I would like to vote but I don’t think kids should be allowed to vote because, sadly, many kids don’t understand what they’re voting for. I think peer pressure is very common with kids and so they could be pressured into voting for somebody they don’t want to vote for but other people say they should.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 15:11
Do you know why all of you are so smart? Because you as children have that self-reflection. This is the same in the adult world, but adults don’t often think like that. What you say is not, in my opinion, unique to children. It is for anyone out there including the adults. I commend you for being so thoughtful and reflective on this question of should you vote or not? I think that’s very interesting. Thank you so much. Caroline, what would you tell the president?

Caroline 15:44
Okay, look, Biden, I know it must be hard being the president and having to deal with everybody’s opinions being shot at you at once, but I think that you can do more. Be the person that you want others to be. Don’t do something because other people are telling you to or something like that. Act out of the goodness of your heart and you won’t go wrong.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 16:16
Okay. So you may need to run for president one day.

Caroline 16:21
Thank you.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 16:22
All of you should. What’s your scorecard, Caroline?

Caroline 16:26
If I was the adults’ teacher, honestly, I don’t think they’d like me. I would give them a C, no, a C minus.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 16:32
You don’t have to apologize. This is not a contest to be the most liked person out there. Thank you for that. Would you like to be able to vote? Do you think children should vote?

Caroline 16:42
That’s a very difficult question because it depends. This goes for everybody, not just children, but I feel like we don’t know if children are acting because they think it’s right or because other people force those beliefs onto them. Some kids do know a lot about politics — I personally don’t. We should have everybody, not just kids, understand who they’re voting for and what they’re voting for. I think that they should vote because they want a change, not because of what anyone else says. Honestly, I would say that it’s a half-and-half situation. For now, I think 18 is a pretty good age.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 17:38
Oh, so 18. Do you know what else I will also tell you? All the things that we’re talking about right now, that is politics. It is. This is what the people we call politicians do all day. That’s what we elect them to do. From all the things that I’ve heard so far, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish whether this is an adult conversation or with children. I think you’re all spot on. Okay, thank you. Let’s see who’s up next.

Rayak 18:03
Hi, I’m Rayak and I think that the biggest problem that we’re facing right now is bullying, especially in teens and children because that could ruin their mental health and the outcome of their life too.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 18:14
Okay. What can we do about that?

Rayak 18:17
The first thing we could do is to teach kids that it’s okay to speak up about bullying. Sometimes they don’t because they’re embarrassed for whatever reason, but they really shouldn’t be because it’s not something to be embarrassed about. The second thing that we can do is teach kids that, for whatever reason, it’s not okay to bully. Most bullies or people who do that don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Oh, I want to be a bully today.” No, it’s a coping mechanism for their life. Teach kids it’s not okay to do that.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 18:47
So more awareness and also speaking up for others.

Rayak 18:52

Robin van Puyenbroeck 18:53
Right. Very well said. Who’s next?

Zoe 18:55
Hi, my name is Zoe and I think that a big issue that is going on in the world today is people not getting vaccinated. I think this because Coronavirus is a really big problem right now. The number of deaths and illnesses is decreasing by so much because of the vaccine. People who aren’t getting vaccinated are hurting themselves and the people who are around them. I think that some solutions are that well-known people should come out and say to their supporters that they should get vaccinated. If this happens, it is more likely for them to get vaccinated because someone they trust and someone that is a big influence on them is telling them why it’s good and why getting vaccinated will help. Another solution is that a big company or a big advertisement should go around maybe on a social media page, because that is where so many people are right now, telling unvaccinated people why not being vaccinated is hurting the people around them and why they’re hurting the planet.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 20:10
Why do you think some people do not want to get vaccinated?

Zoe 20:13
I think it’s because their influencers are just saying that it’s not real and that it’s just not helping anyone and that it’s completely fine, but it’s not.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 20:26
Okay. All right. Well, thank you. Who’s next?

Matthew 20:31
Hi, my name is Matthew. I think one of, if not the biggest problem, is political party violence because it causes more hate, more violence, less happiness and more problems in the world.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 20:44
Okay, and what would you do about this? How can we make this better?

Matthew 20:48
I would say three solutions that we could do that would happen over time is to be more respectful to others around you, accept others for who they are and open up yourself to others, which means, share your opinion and say why in a respectful tone.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 21:06
That is, again, very thoughtful, Matthew, because if we would look at those solutions that would also address bullying and would also probably convince more people to be comfortable taking a vaccine. Do you see how all things are tied together?

Matthew 21:19

Robin van Puyenbroeck 21:20
Now, if you were to meet the president tomorrow, Matthew, what would you tell him?

Matthew 21:24
I would say that he’s doing a great job and he has great ideas. However, he needs to elaborate more on his ideas. He needs to make his ideas heard. What I mean is that he should do more about his ideas which will lead to better outcomes, in my opinion.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 21:44
Okay. What would be your scorecard for the adults?

Matthew 21:47
Some are doing just fine but others some just aren’t. I would grade them a D.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 21:54
All right. You’re very tough here, but that’s good. Would you go and vote if you could?

Matthew 22:02
I wouldn’t because it would cause more controversy and I just don’t have the guts to do it, honestly.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 22:12
Well, I think you have a very thoughtful analysis of some of the solutions you came up with and these are things that you might want to express to adults. That’s the reason why people vote, right, to select others who have solutions. We select which solutions we think are the best. Good. Well, thank you so much. Let me ask Zoe. If you were going to meet the President, what would you say?

Zoe 22:37
I would tell him that I think he’s doing a good job with America and getting them vaccinated, but I think now he can help other countries who really can’t afford the vaccine because that is still many of the people who are getting sick.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 22:54
All right. So what’s your scorecard?

Zoe 22:57
In the world for adults, I would give them a C or a C- because I don’t think they’re really helping. Most of the adults want to help, but they’re not actually helping. They should probably think of more ideas and actually do something.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 23:18
Okay. How about voting?

Zoe 23:20
I would definitely not vote. When I’m 18 I will, but I don’t think as a child that I should be voting and that we kids should be voting. For me, it’s important that I know what’s going on and what is happening with the politicians and who is going up and what they’re trying to do. I don’t think that I need all of that knowledge in my brain right now because that would just cause me a lot of stress and I’m just a kid.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 23:55
Okay. Don’t stress and don’t forget that your brains are very big and there’s still a lot of space that can be filled up with good information. That’s why you’re doing so well at school, all of you. Thank you. Then Rayak, what would you tell the president?

Rayak 24:10
Well, if he’s had a bullying experience, I’d say to speak up about that so children won’t be afraid to speak up about their own experiences. But if not, find someone important who has a great life and that is successful now and speak up about that.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 24:25
Okay, and what’s your grade?

Rayak 24:28
I give them a C because sometimes they are helping and being active, but I wouldn’t say that they’re doing it enough.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 24:38
Okay. Would you want to go vote?

Sienna 24:41
I don’t think children should vote, first, because parents and other people older than them could influence them. Second, if their friends or peers vote for someone else that would just separate the political parties even more than it has, even further than it has. I don’t think that children should vote.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 25:00
Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Good. Let’s go to the next group.

Weston 25:05
Hi, my name is Weston. I think the biggest problem in the world is world hunger. The reason I think this is the biggest problem is that every day people are hungry when they wake up, hungry when they go to sleep and they hardly ever get to eat. I think the solution to that problem would be doing more global food drives and anything that can help them.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 25:30
Thank you.

Jackson 25:31
Hi, my name is Jackson. One issue that I think is big in this world is racism. Police are harming and killing innocent African Americans for no reason and not white people.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 25:48
Okay. What solutions are there and how can we make that better?

Jackson 25:51
I think the solution to solve this problem is to educate kids so that when they grow up they’re not racist.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 25:57
So, do you want to stay in school until you’re 25?

Jackson 26:00

Robin van Puyenbroeck 26:02
Very good. Thank you. Who’s next?

Jordyn 26:06
My name is Jordan and I think gender inequality is one of the three biggest problems in the world because there are more opportunities for men and some women are scared to go outside because of what men can do to them.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 26:20
So how can we make it better?

Jordyn 26:22
I think we can educate people better when we’re young so that people will know how to handle it and make a law. President Biden can make a law so that there are more opportunities for women.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 26:34
Okay. I think a lot of the solutions that I hear so far in the group have a lot to do with education. That’s very interesting. You already mentioned what you would tell the president. Is that what you would want to tell him?

Jordyn 26:47

Robin van Puyenbroeck 26:47
Okay. What’s your grade for the adults, Jordan?

Jordyn 26:51
Probably a D minus.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 26:56
All right. Would you want to go and vote? Do you think children should vote?

Jordyn 27:00
Probably not. I don’t think they should vote.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 27:03
All right. Thank you so much. Let’s hear back from Jackson. What would you tell the President?

Jackson 27:09
I would tell him that if there are any schools out there that haven’t been educating people about racism and not to be racist, to tell them to teach them.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 27:21
Okay. That’s an important message. How would you grade the adults?

Jackson 27:25
I would grade them a C plus because this issue is still a problem and they’re not doing anything to solve it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 27:35
Okay. Do you think children should vote?

Jackson 27:39
No, I don’t think children should vote.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 27:41
Why not?

Jackson 27:44
I feel like they’re not mature enough. I would honestly not vote. They shouldn’t vote because they probably won’t know what they’re doing and because they might not know what’s going on.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 27:59
Okay. Well, thank you so much for sharing. Weston, what would you tell the President?

Weston 28:04
I would tell Joe Biden that so many people look up to him and so many people voted for him. If he is going to make a change, he’s going to have to do it himself. I also think he does a good job of helping world hunger.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 28:20
Thank you. How would you grade the adults with how they are doing with our planet?

Weston 28:25
I would give them a B.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 28:28
Okay. Do you think children should vote?

Weston 28:32
Well, I think I would want to vote, but I don’t think I should vote. I feel kids would just vote for who has the funniest name or who they knew.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 28:44
Do you think that’s any different with adults?

Weston 28:47
I feel like occasionally an adult would do that, but usually, adults are more responsible than kids and would be able to handle it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 28:57
You said something very interesting, Weston. You said you would want to vote but you think you shouldn’t. I’m going to think about that as well. That is a very interesting point that you raised here. Thank you so much. We have our next group — hello.

Sarah 29:12
Hi, I’m Sarah. I think a very big problem in this world is world hunger. I think this is a problem because so many people are suffering and it is not fair that people don’t have food.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 29:22
Okay. What solutions did you think about? Are there different reasons why there is hunger in different places of the world and different types of solutions you can think of?

Sarah 29:32
I saw this solution online and I liked it and thought it was important to address it. I think a good idea is to collect unused food from grocery stores and give it to people who need it. Another solution that we could do right now is make sandwich bags and give them to people who are in poverty. My final solution is to make prices on food more affordable so that people who need food can get it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 29:53
Thank you for that. Who’s next?

Jordan 29:56
Hi, I’m Jordan. One big problem in the world is pollution because it is killing many animals. One solution is to not use that much oil because a lot of the oil that we are using is getting dumped into the ocean. Another solution is also to reuse many of the things that we would just dump in the trash. Another solution is to not dump trash in the ocean because the ocean is not a garbage can.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 30:22
That is very true. I want to make a quick link here to what Sarah was saying about hunger and how there is so much leftover food and so much food being also thrown away, such as not eating the food on our plates or there’s too much food in the packaging. That is also a pollution question, wouldn’t you say?

Jordan 30:40

Robin van Puyenbroeck 30:42
All right. Great. Thank you.

Yash 30:44
Hi, my name is Yash. I think the biggest problem in the world today is racism. I think racism is the biggest problem in the world today because from generation to generation adults might encourage racism and encourage it through generations until people stop it. Adults today need to think that if they don’t stop it today, it might never stop.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 31:11
What solutions did you think of? What can we do to help to make that better?

Yash 31:14
The two solutions that I thought of are that you should only vote for governments that are anti-racist and you should fine people who encourage police brutality.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 31:25
Thank you. If you would meet the president, Yash, what would you tell him?

Yash 31:28
If I met President Biden today I would tell him he’s doing a great job, but he needs to address racism with a movement.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 31:36
Okay. How would you grade the adults? How are we doing?

Yash 31:41
I grade the adults a D minus because they’re trying to help but they can strive to do better.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 31:46
Okay. Thank you. Would you like to vote? I’ll rephrase the question a little bit from your friends. Would you want to vote or is it different from whether you think you should vote?

Yash 32:00
Well, I would personally want to vote but I think children should only be allowed to vote to a certain extent. I think they should start voting at 16 because they are a sophomore in high school and still educated a good amount, enough to vote, but I think before that is too early.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 32:21
Okay. Well, thank you for sharing that. Jordan, what would you tell the president?

Jordan 32:25
If I met President Biden tomorrow, I would say that pollution is killing sea animals and is so bad. I think that he should do more to stop it. I think that what he could do is speak out and say what it is doing.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 32:42
That’s a very powerful message as well. What’s your scorecard?

Jordan 32:47
I would grade adults a C plus because I think they’re doing good things in the world, but not enough.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 32:53
Okay. On the voting question, again, I’ll rephrase it a little bit. Would you want to vote or do you think children should vote or should not vote?

Jordan 33:01
I would want to vote personally, but I do not think that children should vote because they are not experienced in voting.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 33:11
Do you think adults are?

Jordan 33:13

Robin van Puyenbroeck 33:13
All right. Thank you so much. Sarah, what would you tell the president?

Sarah 33:20
If I met President Biden tomorrow, I would tell him that he should come out on a social media platform and say to donate food because he influences so many people and they might listen.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 33:30
Okay. What about the grading here?

Sarah 33:33
I would give adults a C plus because they are donating food and trying their best but so many people still need food and don’t have enough.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 33:40
I see. What about the voting question?

Sarah 33:42
I think children should not be allowed to vote because they may not be educated on the candidates and only vote for who they want and not based on the facts.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 33:49
Would you want to vote?

Sarah 33:54
I would personally not want to vote because I feel there’s too much pressure choosing between two for different pros and cons for each candidate.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 34:01
All right. Well, thank you so much. Then we have the next group. Hello.

Emmett 34:08
Hi, my name is Emmett. I think the world’s biggest problem is racism because the world’s population is going down an insane amount and it’s extremely unfair to many, many people in the world. No one deserves this unless they do something bad. People are getting criticized and we have to do something about it. Some solutions are for President Biden to make a law. I think there’s already an Equality Act, but he needs to enforce it much more into the world, maybe educate kids more or even educate adults because they’re the ones being racist. Another solution is to keep reminding everybody that not just black lives matter, but all lives matter. Every single race, whether your skin color, where you’re from and we could do this on social media, TV, radio, etc.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 35:13
You said something very important here and made a very good analysis. There are a lot of rules that try to limit racism and address this issue. You also mentioned the word enforcement which means how you can make people comply with rules. The real clue there, and you said it, Emmett, is also education. The best thing that could happen is that people don’t break the rules because they want to do the right thing. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Carsten 35:42
Hi, my name is Carsten. I think one of the biggest problems in the world today is COVID-19 and people not getting vaccinated. People are not getting vaccinated when they can and we worked pretty hard to get the vaccine. It took a pretty long time. If they’re not vaccinated, they’re just still not wearing a maskl. I think stores should make people have a mask to be able to go inside the store. Some stores had that and now they’re taking it down because we got the vaccine and people without the vaccine are going into the stores without masks.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 36:12
So you would like everyone to continue with some of the safety measures that make everybody feel comfortable.

Carsten 36:17

Robin van Puyenbroeck 36:18
Okay. Thank you for that.

Chiara 36:21
I’m Chiara and I think one of the biggest problems in the world is homophobia. Being straight or cisgender has been the standard for years and many religions are considered homophobic, for example, Christianity. As a Christian, there’s no such thing as sinning because you’re LGBTQ; that’s a complete lie. People get hate crime for being in the LGBTQ daily, especially transgender people. One solution is educating schools, educating kids about it. Honestly, a lot of parents are also homophobic — not all. If you don’t want your child to end up being LGBTQ, then don’t have a child. Another solution is to make more laws against homophobia. A lot of people get hate crime daily for being a part of the LGBTQ community and no one takes action.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 37:20
Thank you for sharing that. What would you tell the president if you were to meet him?

Chiara 37:24
Well, I think he’s doing great. A lot of the stuff he’s doing, for example, not being homophobic, is the bare minimum and people just praise him for it, which I think is ridiculous. I would tell him to make more laws against homophobia and take it more seriously.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 37:43
How would you grade the adults?

Chiara 37:45
Probably a C minus. I think they’re trying, but they could do better.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 37:52
Okay. On the voting question, the difference between would you want to vote and do you think children should vote?

Chiara 37:59
Well, I would want to vote, but honestly, I don’t know much about politics. I don’t think kids should vote because they’re not educated enough yet for that. Also, like, they’re most likely going to copy what their parents say. A lot of kids learn what they think from their parents. Their friends might force them to vote or tell them something different. I don’t think they should vote. I think 18 is perfect.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 38:27
Okay. All right. Thank you so much. Carsten, what would you tell the President?

Carsten 38:31
I would tell the president that he’s doing a good job and that he should go on social media and get a bunch of people who have gotten vaccinated to tell people they should get vaccinated unless they have a health disease where they can’t get vaccinated yet.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 38:53
What’s your scorecard?

Carsten 38:55
I would give the adults an F plus.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 38:58
F plus. All right. On the voting question, would you like to vote or do you think children shouldn’t?

Carsten 39:06
I would personally want to vote, but I don’t think children should be allowed to vote. If there’s one person at school who is pretty popular and they are voting for someone, everyone else is going to want to vote for that one person. It’s going to make the voting a little bit unfair because people are not even going to know what they’re voting for. They’re going to do whatever.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 39:29
Okay. Thank you for sharing. Emmett, what would you tell the president?

Emmett 39:34
Like I said before, I would tell him to enforce the law much, much more so everybody can know about racism, this terrible problem in the world and do something about it.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 39:48
What grade would you give the adults?

Emmett 39:51
I would say a C because there are terrible people in the world. Those people, I would give an F, like, F beyond. Since the Civil Rights Act, the deaths and the racism have stopped a little bit. This year, it’s come back. It’s good that the adults have stopped it for many years, but now they have to do a better job to stop it for much longer.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 40:31
Okay. On the voting question, Emmett, would you want to vote or do you think children should vote?

Emmett 40:38
In my opinion, I would definitely want to vote. If all children voted, then it would be complete chaos. Some people do know about politics, but some people have no idea. I would just do what my parents told me to do. Other people could not listen to their parents, they could do, as someone else said, funny names. I do not think children would work out with voting.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 41:11
I give all of you so much credit for your answers to the voting question. This piqued my interest. You all seem convinced that adults always seem to know what they’re doing, which is not always true. Thank you so much, Emmett. I think we have our last two.

Nathan 41:30
Hello, I’m Nathan and my issue is gun violence. I think gun violence is a very big problem, especially because guns can kill people. Gun violence is such a sad way to die. It’s better to just die and live a good life. Some solutions are to make a gun harder to get, maybe make more severe punishments, maybe if you use a gun inappropriately or even ban guns altogether. You could keep them for the army and war, but other than that there’s no real need for guns.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 42:06
Thank you for sharing. You have some very practical solutions there as well. Thank you for that.

Ben 42:11
Hello, my name is Ben. My problem is racism. I think racism is a problem because people are getting abused because of their race and their skin color. It’s just terrible. All people should be treated equally.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 42:31
Ben, what can we do to make that better? What are concrete things we can do every day?

Ben 42:37
We have to make more protests and marches and movements to show the racists that they’re a huge minority and that they’re wrong.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 42:47
Okay. If you were to meet the president tomorrow, what would you tell him?

Ben 42:52
I would tell the president that he’s doing a good job, but he has to focus more on racism and make more laws.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 43:00
Okay. What’s your scorecard for adults?

Ben 43:04
For some people, a Z minus, but for others a D.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 43:10
So overall a D.

Ben 43:11

Robin van Puyenbroeck 43:12
All right. What about the voting question?

Ben 43:14
I don’t think children should be allowed to vote because children would vote what their parents would vote for. I know a lot about politics so I would make my own opinion, but some children who don’t know anything would just do what their parents did or just vote for who they thought looked funnier or sounded funnier.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 43:41
Okay. Well, thank you. Nathan, you’re bumping into the president tomorrow in the hallway. What would you tell him?

Nathan 43:49
I would tell him that he’s doing very well overall, but he needs to pay a lot more attention to gun violence and a lot of other important things.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 43:57
Okay. What’s the scorecard for the adults?

Nathan 44:01
I’ve been thinking about this question and I’ve decided on E minus because they’re making no effort in changing gun violence. It’s the adults that are killing the people; it’s not the children. They’re not helping it at all. Maybe there are some people, but I think I’m just going to give them an E minus. They don’t do that. They’re not helping with that.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 44:20
Okay. Well noted. I’m sure you also thought about the voting question.

Nathan 44:26
Yes. Voting is too big of a responsibility for young kids, especially in the tween ages when you’re getting ready for middle school. I feel like it’s too big of a responsibility and kids should not take it. It’s also because they could be biased by their parents, their friends and won’t give their true opinion.

Robin van Puyenbroeck 44:51
Okay. Well, thank you so much. This is absolutely wonderful. I’m looking at my notes here. Thank you, class. Of course, thank you also to the wonderful teachers here for sharing with us and making this happen. I learned a lot and I mean that. I am more convinced than ever that we need to listen more to what children have to say about how we can make the world a better place. If I look at the scorecard, and I was just doing this on the back of an envelope here, but it seems like the consensus would be that the scoring here of the adults and how we’re doing is sort of on the lower C end. I would say that the median is somewhere around C to C-. So that means that adults definitely would have to do a much, much better job to get to the next grade, to go to middle school. I’ll just close with a couple of my observations here. I think it is very intriguing how you all think about the voting question and how you distinguish wanting to vote but not thinking you should. You also brought in the word politics. Think about this conversation we had here today — that is the essence of politics. The more you think about these questions and the more you think about solutions, the more thoughtful decisions you will be able to make. This is a lesson that is an important one to hear for adults. Maybe we should do a different project that this class should be the government for a week and then make some of the decisions and implement some of the solutions that you spoke about here. Again, I would like to thank you so much for all your work and the thoughts you have put into these questions because they’re not easy questions. It is not easy to identify solutions and also know why this is a problem and, more importantly, what can we do to solve the problem. This is a very important exercise to do in life. Thank you so much. Also, thank you to the teachers for your guidance in this. Keep up the good work. Again, thank you so much for being on the show. Goodbye to all.

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