Writing for Don’t Divide Us, Alex Standish considers the ways in which a seemingly well-intentioned campaign by Students Organising for Sustainability and the University and College Union is actually elitist, anti-democratic and, if successful, likely to make lives worse for many who are already disadvantaged.

The first question to ask is why are a group of students and the largest lecturers union in the UK seeking to use their campaign to ‘transform how and what we learn’ in schools and universities rather than raising awareness about these political issues? Their approach implies that there is something wrong with our current curriculum, even though students already learn about climate change and Britain’s colonial past in school subjects. Secondly, why would they put forward such as campaign without discussing the potential for indoctrination (tying learning to political outcomes) which will undoubtedly compromise the educational mission of schools and universities?

Read on at Don’t Divide Us.

Between modern aversions to notions of ‘authority’ and the policing of public discourse, is it any surprise that teachers are finding it harder to be authoritative, asks Alka Sehgal Cuthbert in the Education Forum’s latest column for Teach Secondary magazine

If there’s one place in society where we’d want adults to be authority figures, you’d think it would be schools. Yet today, it seems that there’s an ambivalence, or even hostility to the idea of teachers acting in an authoritative manner, such that the job of educating is being made harder than ever.

Take two recent examples. Firstly, that of the teacher at Batley Grammar School who was deserted by his head, colleagues and union representatives when some parents and members of local Muslim groups – not all of whom even had children at the school – expressed offence at his showing of a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a RE lesson about tolerance and freedom of thought.

In the face of protests at the school gates, the head suspended the teacher (and later his two colleagues) before issuing an apology to those protesting. An investigation is ongoing while the teacher and his family remain in hiding.

The second example is that of Pimlico Academy, where students held protests over the school’s policies regarding its uniform, curriculum and flying of the national flag. The head, Daniel Smith, subsequently resigned, not long after NEU members at the school passed a vote of no confidence in him.

At first glance, both cases concerned a teacher or leader who had seemingly shown insufficient sensitivity to feelings centred around race or religion. Yet wherever you stand on the specifics involved, there are deeper issues at play here that don’t relate to racism or religious discrimination, but which serve to give both incidents, and others like them, their incendiary character. Those issues involve long-standing problems with teachers’ authority, and related failings of solidarity…

Read the full article on TeachWire.