Colin Brazier: Schools are woke-washing learning - so how do we stop it?
As the schools go back, how do we stop them from indoctrinating our children to the point where we don’t recognise them anymore?
Who on earth, in their right mind, would have kids? Ours is a culture which, increasingly, regards them as an expensive lifestyle choice; an impediment to our ‘Best Life’.
God only knows why environmentalists keep nagging us to have fewer children. Britain’s birth rate recently hit a record low - way below what’s needed to replace those who are dying off - and it’s got nothing to do with people wanting to save the planet. Kids are frequently costly, noisy, brattish, and selfish.
I should know, I have six of them. But as almost every parent agrees, we do it because it’s usually worth it. We tolerate the career disruption, the sticky carpets, the ruined figures. We forgo the holidays, the sports cars, the deep sleep that only comes when the person you care about most in the world is yourself. We do it, even if we don’t always know it, because kids impart to us deeper truths.
About love, selflessness and obligation. Well, I say this now because, the end of the summer holidays is often a time when parents take stock. In some of England’s big cities, the kids went back to school today. They already have in London, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Scotland they went back three weeks ago.
And here’s my question. As the schools go back, how do we stop them from indoctrinating our children to the point where we don’t recognise them anymore? What should we say to schools which are happy to take the blank cheque provided by our taxes or school fees to write what they like on the blank slates of our children’s minds.
Why should we tolerate schools that are increasingly woke hotbeds of social engineering, critical race theory and gender fluidity? Of course, parents have always been scandalised by their children. The rites of passage of childhood are littered with transgressive milestones.
A tattoo here, a piercing there. But this is different. A generation of children is emerging who don’t just believe their parents to be wrong – they’re taught to think we’re bad. Take Scotland, which has plunged down international league tables for science and maths in recent years, but where kids as young as four can now change their name and gender without their parent’s consent under new LGBT rules.
As of last month Scottish teachers are also urged to take a white privilege test and tell pupils that the concept of race was developed by Europeans to justify ‘crimes against humanity’. The SNP government in Edinburgh may be at the tip of the woke spear, but the rest of Britain isn’t far behind.
A couple of months ago the National Education Union, which has 450,000 members across the UK, said the way classrooms are laid out was “shaped by colonisation” and the teaching of every subject needed to be reassessed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. A lot of this stuff pre-dates Black Lives Matter.
Look at the lessons your children will be taught in history and ask yourself why it’s now America’s Civil Rights’ Movement or the Atlantic Slave Trade and no longer the English Civil War or the French Revolution.
Look at the English Literature reading lists to see how certain novels have been airbrushed for being inappropriate, the latest, ludicrously, being Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Ask yourself why it is that schools will fine you, the parent, for keeping your child off school, but won’t stop pupils taking the day off school to support Greta Thunburg.
Polls show no support for the woking of the curriculum. But here’s the thing. An extreme minority within the Teaching Establishment would love to peddle left-wing politics in the classroom. To continue what the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci called the Slow March Through the Institutions. But that would be too overt. With identity politics, insidiously, they have found a way.
As a journalist, I’m plugged in to the ebbs and flows of the culture wars. I talk to my children about history and politics, about sexual identity and religion. I try to listen and I think I’ve taught them to give me a hearing too. Interestingly, they tell me that when they discuss some of the things we debate at home, at school, they get closed down. Many of their contemporaries are not used to being challenged.
I come back to where I started. Parenting is hard and getting harder. The road to father or motherhood is littered with disincentives. Most parents eventually come around to the idea that they cannot shape the lives of their children.
But they also have the right to be furious when they see other people doing it for them with their cash, but without their say so. That’s tonight’s Viewpoint.