Ordinary People are Drawing a Line in the Sand

The dispute between mainly Muslim parents and education bureaucrats at a Birmingham school has much in common with the Israel Folau saga here in Australia. Both are, at root, Culture War skirmishes of ordinary people rebelling against the “progressive” diktats of the elites. Both are proof of the adage that really defending freedom means defending the freedom of people you disagree with. And both involve more than a touch of hypocrisy, all around.

But there remains the fundamental, unavoidable fact: both fights are about ordinary people drawing a line in the sand against the increasing intrusion of the corporate/nanny-state nexus into every facet of private life. Both are about standing up to the elite who genuinely think that they’re better in every way than we hoi polloi. Better qualified, especially, to raise our children.

It is not parents or even protesters from outside of the school community who have politicised education: it is activist teachers backed by successive governments.

Parents are right to be wary of this state overreach into what should be the domain of the family.

Schools have always done more than just teach facts: alongside how to read and write, children are taught to sit still and be quiet…however, in most schools today, it is politics and not religion that shapes the values at the heart of the curriculum…

…the problem with putting every social problem on the curriculum is that it allows activists to bypass difficult arguments with adults and go straight to the easier task of convincing children. This is social engineering, not socialisation.

Like Israel Folau, I may not agree with what they say, but I must defend their right to say it.

People send their children to school to learn to read, write and do maths. Outside of the latte belt suburbs of bourgeois, sandal-wearing, tilty-headed Greens voters, they don’t send them to school to learn to be “woke” social justice warriors.

As education has become more political, the distance between some parents and schools has grown…what is happening in Birmingham shows us that adults are not in agreement about the values schools should inculcate. Yet despite this, schools encroach ever further into the terrain of parents. Whether it is checking the content of lunchboxes to remove crisps or chocolate biscuits, getting children to keep food diaries or monitor household recycling, or even suggesting bedtimes, the boundaries between the role of parents and teachers have become blurred.

My experience in working in the educational sector has led me to conclude that while there are still great teachers, they are too often a dying species. Worse, if there is a profession with a more disproportionate sense of self-regard (outside of publicly-funded broadcasting), I’d be surprised. Staff rooms pullulate with people who genuinely think they’re better than you.

Too many who work in education, at all levels, are ready to suspect the worst of parents. Some seem to think that classes in relationships are necessary because, without them, children are bound to grow up to be abusive towards one another.

Like Hollywood feminists, one must wonder whether their pessimistic view of all relationships is because they judge everyone by their own standards.

The greatest problem with “values” education is that values are hopelessly subjective.

There are right and wrong answers when it comes to geography…In other subjects, like literature, knowledge and understanding emerges from interpretation. But there still tends to be a consensus among scholars about methods and the parameters of interpretation. The ongoing dispute between trans activists and gender-critical feminists show that any such consensus in thinking about gender is a very long way off. There are no right and wrong answers when it comes to relationships.

The Birmingham parents are right to be angry that the state, via schools and teachers, should try to dictate how people should behave in the most intimate sphere of their lives…[Families] need schools to stop teaching children about relationships once and for all.