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Should teachers be allowed to politically educate our children?
This essay results from reading a post on Facebook.
A post was questioning why do some on the Left continue to apparently ignore the millions killed in Russia and China during the imposition of one party “communist” government make the case for communism or insist upon applying a ridiculous veneer of objectivity when discussing its history? They quite rightly wouldn’t do this with the horror that was fascism or apartheid South Africa. And yet to wave a hammer and sickle flag at a rally is to celebrate a record of bloodshed and misery.
An ounce of belief is equal to a pound of fact. People choose their beliefs, or do they? Often beliefs does not seem to have a rational base, very often they can not stand against cohesive argument and yet people still cling to them. The more extreme the belief the greater the unwillingness to even consider any opposition. Fact is not allowed to enter the belief process. This applies to all beliefs, politically left and right. I have no evidence but observation suggests that very often the followers, the activists, have more irrational belief than the leaders. The leaders are happy to manipulate and use these following but do not always express the same conviction themselves, at least in private.
Political belief appears to fluctuate with experience, those age under 12 often simply following the ideals and political beliefs of their parents. As they get a bit older the rebellious period takes over and thy oppose whatever their parents believe in, simple because the parents believe it. The young adults, 15 to 25 then get exposed to political education and this is where the socialists do seem to have taken over the larger battle grounds. It is 60 years since I left school and two things have changed in that time. 60 to 70 years ago, teachers were required to ensure they never indicated their own political beliefs when education pupils. The other change is that when I left school, I followed the majority into work, in my case a very good engineering apprenticeship, that included evening classes and day release to a college. Relative to the total number, few school leavers went on to full time further education.
The left of centre political leaning adherents have taken advantage of these two basic changes; they now openly express their beliefs in educational situations and they have much longer in which to instil these beliefs in their pupils.
Why this as happened has to be speculation, it may have been a well reasoned plan of campaign but that would require such a long term construct, that it is doubtful any politician could have had the patience to devise and execute it. It may be the result of the social history of education. Over the last 70 years education has changed from being a service, a necessary service, to the nation, into an “industry “ of its own, with career pathways and an ever widening network of rewards. University managers are now some of the best paid people in the country. Earlier socialists who came into politics after working at manual labour tasks in industry, believed that improving education would improve the well-being of their children and so they made universal education a strong plank in their aims. In this they were both correct and justified but after the second world war the power of the education lobby started to take root and develop a political strength of its own. Would any politician, with any chance of being elected, stand on a platform of less education? Even a suggestion that it would be better to tailor education to the abilities and aspirations of the child, get turned into political propaganda with claims the suggestion is an indication that education for the majority is to be abandoned. This is not what was suggested but the socialists in the education industry presented it this way, to enhance their own career growth.
There is a natural truth that like attracts like, sometimes referred to as birds of a feather flocking together or the law of homogeneous attraction. Those who progressed through the higher education system and left it determined to find work and fulfil their material ambitions, did so but some decided the education industry offered a more appealing prospect. These naturally tended to be of the same social background with the same economic and political outlook. They also, because of their shared experience, had never actually been subjected to serious levels of sustained poverty. Almost all may claim they know what it is like to be poor but they come from basically middle-class families—in those days the very poor did not consider education to be a worthwhile way of spending time, these middle class families proved a safety net that, now matter how the individual felt about their own well-being, there was always a support that the poor never have. Thus the left took over the higher education conveyor belt of 20 to 25 year old people.
It is said and appears to be true that the young feel more emotionally involved in political idealism while the middle aged have become pragmatic and view politics as a means rather than as ideals and the old have experienced the failings of all political parties, have knowledge of the underlying truths and know that lofty aims, high promises are based on fabrications, and this applies to all politicians equally. The old generally take no notice of promises made by politicians since the old have seem so many broken political promises. The older you get the more skeptical and disbelieving you become. Those over 60 years old have watched as apparently idealistic advocates of equality become grasping power hungry controllers of everyone else's life. They have seen the feet of clay so often.
Maybe because they are constantly involved with younger people, this transition in political outloo, does not seem to work amongst those who teach in higher education.
The left now control the education and so the political indoctrination of the nations young adults. Whether this is a good thing or a bad one is a matter for individual reasoning. There is a danger that it will lead to extremism and anti democratic action groups, who have very little real understanding of what the majority of people value. During the rise to power of the Fascist—national socialist party—movement in Germany, prior to the second world war, the leaders of this movement knew all about indoctrination at a young age, the Hitler youth movement was a deliberate, and from many accounts, successful way of recruiting political zealots into the adult movement.
What can be done to level the political education of young adults? It is possible that tightening the academic qualification, to become a teacher, may help. The recruitment and fast tracking of ex-military personal into teaching positions may also assist. Taking the appointment of teachers and senior lecturers, out of the control of the existing academic establishment may help prevent the present situation where only those politically acceptable to that establishment get a job. The big question is who do you give control to? No one should be wishing to go from frying pan to fire.
Going back in the history of education, in Britain what became state schools, were locally financed and managed by boards of governors, hence the name “board schools.” These provided free education to those who could not afford to pay for it. I can already hear the howls of outrage from the socialist minded camp, at the very slight suggestion that the anointment of teachers be left to the local land owners and the local “great and the good” but that is not what I am suggesting. I am saying that the appointment board should have an eclectic mix on it. It is a socialist aim that, prior to the sate acquisition of all means of production, that they have “workers” on all company board of directors, so they can have no objection to lay people on school appointment boards.
In England we have a system of school governors but as far as my knowledge goes, they do not appoint teachers. Their main functions are enshrined in the language of of modern bureaucrats.
To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction. To hold the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff. To oversee the financial performance of the school and make sure its money is well spent.
Note nothing about appointing teachers or political education.