Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How Political Correctness Is Islamifying British Education

In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class.

In Scotland, 30 non-Muslim children from the Parkview Primary School recently were required to visit the Bait ur Rehman Ahmadiyya mosque in the Yorkhill district of Glasgow (videos here and here). At the mosque, the children were instructed to recite the shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith which states: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger." Muslims are also demanding that Islamic preachers be sent to every school in Scotland to teach children about Islam, ostensibly in an effort to end negative attitudes about Muslims.

British schools are increasingly dropping the Jewish Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, according to a report entitled, Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills.

British teachers are also reluctant to discuss the medieval Crusades, in which Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem: lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

In an effort to counter "Islamophobia" in British schools, teachers now are required to teach "key Muslim contributions such as Algebra and the number zero" in math and science courses, even though the concept of zero originated in India.

In the East London district of Tower Hamlets, four Muslims were recently jailed for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls; and 85 out of 90 schools have implemented "no pork" policies.

The culinary restrictions join a long list of politically correct changes that gradually are bringing hundreds of British primary and secondary education into conformity with Islamic Sharia law.

The London Borough of Haringey, a heavily Muslim district in North London, is the latest school district to switch to a menu that is fully halal (religiously permissible for Muslims).

The Haringey Town Council recently issued "best practice" advice to all schools in its area to "ban all pork products in order to cater for the needs of staff and pupils who are not permitted contact with these for religious reasons."

Local politicians have criticized the new policy as pandering to Muslims, and local farmers, who have pointed out that all schools in Britain already offer vegetarian options, have accused school administrators of depriving non-Muslim children of a choice.

Following an outcry from non-Muslim parents, the town council removed the guidance from its website, although the new policy remains in place.

At the Cypress Junior School, in Croydon, south London, school administrators announced in the school newsletter dated June 1, 2012 that the school has opted for a pork-free menu "as a result of pupil and parental feedback."

The announcement states: "Whilst beef, chicken, turkey and fish will all feature, as well as the daily vegetarian and jacket potato or pasta option, the sausages served will now be chicken rather than pork."

In Luton, an industrial city some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of London where more than 15% of the population is now Muslim, 23 out of 57 schools have banned pork.

In the City of Bradford, a borough of West Yorkshire in Northern England where there are now twice as many practicing Muslims that there are practicing Anglicans, 24 out of 160 schools have eliminated pork from their menus. In Newham (East London), 25 out of 75 schools have banned pork.

The Borough of Harrow in northwest London was among the first in Britain to encourage halal menus. In 2010, Harrow Council announced plans to ban pork in the borough's 52 state primary schools, following a switch by ten secondary schools to offer halal-only menus.

According to the UK-based National Pig Association, which represents commercial pork producers, "It is disappointing that schools cannot be sufficiently organized to give children a choice of meat. Sausages and roast pork are staples of a British diet and children enjoy eating them. If products can be labeled with warnings that they contain nuts and vegetarian dishes can be made and kept separate from meat dishes, [we] don't see why the same can't apply to pork."

Lunch menus are not the only area in which "cultural sensitivity" is escalating in British schools.

In West Yorkshire, the Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley has banned stories featuring pigs, including "The Three Little Pigs," in case they offend Muslim children.

In Nottingham, the Greenwood Primary School cancelled a Christmas nativity play; it interfered with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. In Scarborough, the Yorkshire Coast College removed the words Christmas and Easter from their calendar not to offend Muslims.

Also in Cheshire, a 14-year-old Roman Catholic girl who attends Ellesmere Port Catholic High School was branded a truant by teachers for refusing to dress like a Muslim and visit a mosque.

In Stoke-on-Trent, schools have been ordered to rearrange exams, cancel swimming lessons and stop sex education during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In Norwich, the Knowland Grove Community First School has axed the traditional Christmas play to "look at some of the other great cultural festivals of the world."

Meanwhile, the politically correct ban on pigs in Britain also extends to toys for children. A toy farm set called HappyLand Goosefeather Farm recently removed pigs in order to avoid offending Muslims.

The pig removal came to public attention after a British mother bought the toy as a present for her daughter's first birthday. Although the set contained a model of a cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog, there was no pig, despite there being a sty and a button which generated an "oink" sound.

After the mother complained, the Early Learning Centre (ELC), which manufactures the toy, responded: "Previously the pig was part of the Goosefeather Farm. However due to customer feedback and religious reasons this is no longer part of the farm."

After a public outcry, however, ELC later reversed its decision: "We recognize that pigs are familiar farm animals, especially for our UK customers. We have taken the decision to reinstate the pig and to no longer sell the set in international markets where it might create an issue."


A few more male teachers in British primary schools

For four years, from age seven to 11, the most important man in my life, after my father, was Eric Sutton.  I certainly saw more of him than my dad, who was often away on business. Mr Sutton — never Eric, heaven forfend — was there five, sometimes six, days a week.

He was the headmaster of my primary school, an important influence in my formative years. Mr Sutton had the air of a Regimental Sergeant Major and ran the school with military efficiency — not surprising, really, given that he’d served as an NCO in the Army Education Corps during World War II.

He had a piercing parade-ground bark, which could halt small boys in their tracks up to 100 yards away. That said, his bark was worse than his bite.

Mr Sutton was a disciplinarian with a fearsome cane on the wall of his study. I can’t remember him ever wielding it in anger. Maybe I’ve simply forgotten. But the prospect was deterrent enough.

If he did have to administer corporal punishment, it would have been in the spirit of the old adage: This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you, boy.

I don’t recall him wearing a mortar board, but he didn’t need any props to convey his natural authority. In my young mind, he was the living embodiment of the headmaster played by Jimmy Edwards in the TV series Whack-O!

Whenever he caught anyone fighting in the playground, he would haul the combatants into the gym, make them wear boxing gloves and then slug it out in the ring, in full accordance with the Queensbury Rules. Goodness knows what modern elf’n’safety would make of primary schoolboys being forced to punch each other’s lights out under the supervision of a teacher. These days, my old headmaster would probably have found himself up in court on child cruelty charges.

Mr Sutton was a great believer in the virtues of sport. Our Dickensian school building didn’t have a playing field, so he’d march us crocodile-style to the local ‘rec’, rain or shine. In winter, we played football, in summer cricket.

After school and on Saturdays, he’d take teams to compete in tournaments. And he expected us to win. Eric Sutton would never settle for second best.

All this team sport was in addition to several sessions of vigorous PE every week and trips to the local open-air swimming pool.

He may have lain great importance on our physical development, but he gave equal — if not more — weight to nurturing our intellectual capacity.

These days, ‘passion’ is a much abused cliche. Every inept reality TV contestant professes their ‘passion’ for everything from fairy cakes to break-dancing. But Mr Sutton really was passionate about education in general and literacy in particular.

It was his ambition to get as many of his pupils as possible into grammar school, which he saw as the gateway to a better future. He succeeded spectacularly, his school regularly topping the table of  11-plus passes.

Some younger readers may think this sounds like a posh prep school for the privileged children of the well-off. Nothing could be further from the truth.   West Town Juniors and Mixed Infants, Williamson Avenue, Peterborough, was what we would now call a ‘bog standard’ state school.

But there was nothing ‘bog standard’ about the ethos instilled by Eric Sutton, who could have held his own in any exclusive fee-paying establishment.  He was a dapper man who always wore a sports jacket, complete with leather patches on the elbows, and cavalry twill trousers. He wouldn’t have been seen dead without a shirt and tie — unlike some of the slovenly scruffs on parade at the teachers’ union conferences every Easter.

Which brings me to the reason I’m taking a trip down Memory Lane today — the news that there has been a significant increase in the number of men training as primary school teachers.

For the past 40-odd years, the feminisation of state education has been a disaster. There are more than 4,250 schools in Britain where not a single male teacher can be found in the staff room. The Eric Suttons of this world are as extinct as the stegosaurus.

Coupled with the trendy, ‘child-centred’ teaching methods indoctrinated by Marxist training colleges, this has been responsible for a collapse in discipline and an alarming increase in illiteracy.

Generations of boys have been utterly betrayed by the system set up to educate them — many written off as suffering from a bewildering array of fashionable ‘hyperactivity disorders’ and pumped full of mind-bending drugs simply because young female teachers have no idea how to control or inspire them.

Mr Sutton didn’t need Ritalin to bring an unruly child to order, just a well-aimed blackboard eraser.

With no competitive sport to channel their physical excesses — a consequence of the pernicious ‘all-must-have-prizes’ culture identified by Melanie Phillips — and zero intellectual stimulation, young men are leaving school unsuited to the adult world.

The rise in single motherhood and absentee fathers, coupled with a monopoly of female primary school teachers, means that countless thousands of boys reach puberty without having encountered a male role model, apart from the local ‘gangstas’.

Our sick society, which considers any man who wants to work with children to be a potential paedophile, has helped to turn primary schools into testosterone-free zones.  A male teacher who volunteered to take young boys and girls swimming would be lucky to escape without a knock on the door from the nonce squad or a petrol bomb being lobbed through his front window.

Those hardy male souls who have taken the plunge report hostility and ‘intimidation’ from all-female staff rooms — which tends to suggest they are probably not cut out for dealing with a class full of seven-year-old savages, either.

All this combined with relatively low wages has conspired against encouraging any young family man to become a primary school teacher.

The good news is that recent changes which allow teachers to earn a salary while they train in school have begun to attract more men into the profession. And the Government has launched a campaign to persuade male graduates to take up a career in primary education.

The numbers applying have risen by 51 per cent, albeit from a low base.  Eric Sutton would have approved.



Like U.S. Charter Schools, Britain's Academies Aim High

1776 is a number with great resonance for Americans, but not one you expect to be featured on a British government website.

But there it is, on the home page of the United Kingdom's Department of Education: "As of 1 April 2012, there are 1776 academies open in England."

Academies, as you might expect, mean something different in Britain than in the United States. They are, approximately, what we would call charter schools. And there are 1,776 of them largely because of the energy and determination of British Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Britain, like America, has gotten pretty dismal results for years from its (in their terminology) state schools. (British public schools are expensive boarding schools; they include Eton, which produced David Cameron and 12 other prime ministers, and Fettes, its Scottish equivalent, which graduated former Prime Minister Tony Blair.)

This is a problem that has been recognized by all three British political parties. Blair's New Labor tried to instill more accountability with extensive testing, much like George W. Bush's bipartisan No Child Left Behind law.

But many tests got dumbed down, and the results have been disappointing. Education in both nations has been dominated by what Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett called "the Blob," the combined forces of university education schools and teachers unions, which have a bias against rigorous learning and testing.

The Blob wants students to have lots of self-esteem and deems it oppressive to demand that they learn to read or do multiplication tables.

As a result, British and American students think highly of themselves but do much worse in reading and math than their counterparts in countries like Singapore and South Korea.

Gove argues that this is "a huge crime." "Traditional subjects taught in a rigorous fashion," he says, "help poor children graduate to the middle class." In contrast, "inequality is generated by poor schools."

Gove is an example of upward mobility through good education. His parents, who didn't graduate from high school, scrimped and saved from his father's income as a fish merchant to send him to an all-boys, fee-paying school in Aberdeen, Scotland.

One of his teachers suggested he apply to Oxford. He got in and became president of the Oxford Union, the well-known debating society. That led to jobs in journalism and then to Conservative Party politics. He was elected to Parliament in 2005, and in his first term became shadow secretary of education.

When the 2010 general election resulted in Conservatives falling short of a majority, Cameron was prepared with a list of policies with which the party was in agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Like some U.S. Democrats, the Lib Dems had become disillusioned with state schools' performance and the teacher unions' objections to accountability. Education became one of the issues on which the Lib Dems decided the two parties could work together, and they continue to do so despite Cameron's failure last week to produce the Conservative votes needed to pass the Lib Dems' proposal to change the House of Lords.

Gove has insisted that state school pupils read 19th century literature -- Byron, Keats, Dickens, Jane Austen -- and study a foreign language. He has pushed more instruction in history and geography, and higher standards in math and science.

His greatest innovation is the academies -- an idea he picked up in Sweden, of all places. Individual schools, local school authorities, businesses, universities, charities and religious organizations can petition to start academies. But they have to meet certain standards to be approved.

Like many American charter schools, the academies can set their own pay and devise their own curriculum and schedules; they receive the same per-pupil funding as state schools. The idea is to liberate education from domination by the Blob, and the results so far seem encouraging.

Gove's policies cannot be entirely replicated in the United States. Britain's central government has full authority over schools in England (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems), while in the U.S. education is largely controlled by state governments and local school boards often dominated by teachers unions.

But we might do well to keep an eye on Britain's 1,776 academies, which now number 1,957, as a subsidiary page on the website informs us. We English-speaking peoples have been lagging behind on education.

We can do better, and as Gove says, those most in need are the poor and disadvantaged.


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