Tuesday, November 29, 2016

UK: We need teachers, not preachers

Brexit-bashing teachers want to turn education into re-education

The idea of education as a form of indoctrination is often seen as a thing of the past, something belonging to the old Communist and Nazi regimes. But the blurring of the line between education and the promotion of certain ideas is still a feature of modern, liberal-dominated education.

In a recent article, published by TES, Mike Stuchbery, a school teacher, argues that UK schools have been ‘battered’ by the ‘twin tsunamis of Brexit and Donald Trump’. Immediate action is needed, he says, because ‘in these extraordinary times, schools need a zero-tolerance approach to racism. Expulsion should be the penalty for acts of hatred.’

According to Stuchbery, Brexit and the election of Trump have led to the total abandonment of behaviour and equality policies. Teachers have stopped reporting racist incidents and senior leaders and headteachers are turning a blind eye to bad behaviour. The education system has given in to hate. Who knew things could deteriorate so quickly?

Apparently, the problem is so widespread that schools need to restrict freedom of speech to ensure that minority students do not become the ‘casualties of hatred and ignorance’. It is necessary, he argues, to ensure that children are taught to ‘challenge the instruments of democracy’ in a bid to counter the racism and xenophobia that is now supposedly rife among students. What precisely are these ‘instruments of democracy’ that Stuchbery thinks need challenging? Universal suffrage? Free and fair elections? Referenda?

Also, where is his evidence that Brexit and Trump have turned schools into hotbeds of racism? Well, why bother with evidence when one can opine based on perception alone. Like so many others, Stuchbery seems put out because a referendum result in this country, and an election in another, did not go the way he wanted. But, instead of getting over his disappointment, he is trying to justify flouting teaching standards (which include maintaining a high standard of ethics and ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways that exploit pupils’ vulnerability).

The idea that Brexit is a ‘problem’ is a personal, political view – one that the majority of people in this country do not share. Stuchbery attempts to dress up his proposals as safeguarding. For him, simply teaching pupils about the consequences of their actions, and arguing against racism and xenophobia within classroom debate, isn’t enough.

Safeguarding involves protecting children from neglect and abuse – not different political opinions. Yes, schools have a duty to follow the law, but it’s not against the law to want to leave the EU. And the idea that racism was the only explanation for Brexit just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. All groups in society were divided on whether to Leave or Remain. Those who voted Leave included ethnic minorities.

Stuchbery is free to sweep inconvenient facts under the carpet and indulge himself in his private life, but not at work. For teachers to call for pupils’ freedom of speech to be restricted is a gross abuse of their role as educators.


Slurs Not Working Anymore

Racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist - all these epithets now aimed at Donald Trump and his supporters used to be directed my way. Why? Because I was a teacher who taught students to think critically. I was "poisoning young minds," said leftists who believed they knew better how issues should be covered in public school - their way and no other. I didn't just offer "both sides," because seldom are there only two. I offered multiple viewpoints on controversial issues, encouraged each student to pick what sounded best and defend it. I fostered the kinds of diversity that genuinely improve education: diversity of thought and opinion. To many on the left - and it may now be accurate to say most - the only kinds of diversity that count are those of skin color, sex, or ethnicity. However, Those don't help if everyone thinks alike, and that's how it is throughout academia now, kindergarten through graduate school.

About once a month, I wrote up classroom Socratic dialogues and published them, maybe two hundred or so. Most of my other columns expressed my own opinions on the issues of the day and after about 1993 or '94 those opinions were increasingly conservative. Many readers on the left assumed I was pushing my opinions on students and tried to have me disciplined, silenced, fired, or have my teaching license pulled. All along the way, letters to the editor appeared with the slurs listed above. I read them in class and students were surprised. "But you don't tell us what to believe," they responded.

"Evidently they don't know that," I'd answer.

"We should all write letters back and tell them," some suggested.

"You can if you want," I'd say, "but not in class. You have to do it on your own." Several did.

There were classroom dialogues on affirmative action in which I'd explain how racial quotas worked in college admissions, hiring, and awarding public contracts. After publishing those, I was "racist." There were discussions about jihad and Koranic verses encouraging Muslims to kill infidels, etc. After them came "Islamophobic" slurs. We discussed illegal immigration and I described what I saw after flying down to the Mexican border. After those came out, I was "xenophobic." We discussed referendum questions on Maine's ballot about gay rights, gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, Indian casinos, and others. After writing up them up, I was "homophobic"; "misogynist" ; "racist"; and so forth.

When I read those letters aloud in class, students asked: "Don't they bother you?"

"They did at first," I responded, "but they don't anymore. Calling me ‘racist' or ‘misogynist' doesn't make it so. Name-calling indicates the writers have run out of arguments, and slurs are all they have."

I enjoyed playing devil's advocate with students. It was easy to parrot arguments from left, right, or middle because I held them over the years. Like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I had been an Alinskyite radical. Then I moved right to become a liberal before finally emerging as a genuine conservative in my forties. My evolution, as described first by either Georges Clemenceau or Winston Churchill, went thus: "If you're not a liberal when you're twenty, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative when you're forty, you have no brains." Unless they read my column regularly, students didn't know what I really thought.

Efforts by leftists to have me silenced or removed from teaching flared up sporadically for ten or twelve years and I kept a file throughout. After retiring, I wrote it up and tried to shop the manuscript around to various agents with no success. Times are a-changin' however, as witnessed by the evening and morning of November 8 and 9. Liberals controlling media were shocked to discover that, like me, there are millions out here who have become inured to their ubiquitous slurs. They shot everything they had at Donald Trump and others who didn't march in lockstep, then sat back expecting their favored candidates to win as they always had, and were shocked when they didn't.

From 9:00 pm Tuesday night and 1:00 am Wednesday, I flipped through the liberal news channels: NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and ABC. Pundits were all lined up but gone were the smug expressions of election nights past. They were ashen - all of them. How could we have been so wrong? they asked each other. Why did all those "working class" white guys switch to Trump? Did they not listen to us? Well no, they didn't. They heard you cry wolf for decades and they're not listening anymore.

Maybe it's time to shop my manuscript around again. I had been calling it "Poisoning Young Minds," but maybe it's time to call it something else. "Teaching While Deplorable" perhaps? "Irredeemable Instructor"? "Privileged Pedagogue"? I have to think about this.


Cambridge University accused of cover-up after three Jewish students 'were told to get f***** out of here' and attacked by drinking club members

No word on the religion of the offenders but drinking club members would probably not be Muslims

Jewish students at Cambridge University say they were victims of vile anti-Semitic abuse, in which drinking society members shouted at them: 'Jew, get f***** out of here'.

The three men were also told 'you don't belong here', and their abusers allegedly shouted 'dirty Jew' and 'f*** off, darkie'.

One of them was allegedly choked by a thug, while his two friends were pushed around, according to witnesses.

They were also told their faces would be 'smashed'.

They have accused university bosses of failing to take the incident seriously after two men were disciplined but cleared of anti-Semitism.

The trio said the abuse came after drinking club members spotted they were wearing kippots, which are Jewish skullcaps.

Shlomo Roiter-Jesner, 25, told The Telegraph: 'All of a sudden they were shouting: "Jew, get f***** out of here.

'We tried to leave but they were yelling at us.'

Two members of Christ's College were disciplined, but it has refused to reveal the punishment or identify the individuals.

It happened last month as they entered the graduate union building at the university.

University chiefs reviewed CCTV of the incident, but it did not contain any sound.

After an investigation, Mr Roiter-Jesner was told that two students had been disciplined and the matter was concluded.

He said: 'The college has not confronted the issue at all. They have brushed it under the carpet.'

A statement from Professor Jane Stapleton, Master of Christ's College and passed to MailOnline said: 'You may have seen stories in the press today alleging that the College has covered up an incident of alleged anti-Semitism.

'I want to assure you that the College and I personally condemn in the strongest possible terms anti-Semitic, racist or any other form of discriminatory abuse, and that uncompromising disciplinary action would be taken if any substantiated evidence comes to light that a Member of Christ’s engaged in such conduct.

'At this point the College has no corroborating evidence that any of its students has been involved in such behaviour.

'I also want to assure you personally that I would not tolerate any covering up of such behaviour and I have strongly rejected that allegation.

'I cannot comment in detail on the incident, but can let you know that the Tutors have already investigated it and taken action. I am, of course, available to discuss this or other matters of concern to Members of the Christ’s community.'


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