Yesterday I was on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme to discuss some of the questions for education in a free society raised by recent events at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire.
When judging if an education resource is appropriate, we need to ask ourselves:
- Is the resource genuinely necessary to the context of the lesson and to illustrating the topic being learned about?
- Does a resource allow pupils to engage critically, to challenge their preconceptions, to learn something about views different from their own?
Schools are public bodies, charged with the education of children: opening their minds and promoting critical inquiry, personal and intellectual and moral development. Many people are offended by many different things but if we used the criterion of offence alone to determine what teaching resources should be used, we would be in a constant quandary. So many things disturb our opinions and often this is the beginning of an educational journey. If our own opinions are prejudiced, they can then be challenged in the classroom. Pre-judging whether resources are offensive and censoring them is counterproductive. The risk is that lessons will become detached from what pupils see in real life and in the media each day, and so help them less in understanding the world around them.
You can listen to the full clip here.