We don't need no thought control...
Iain Dale writes an interesting post on his blog to today, criticising Alan Johnson and David Miliband’s decision to send a DVD of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to every secondary school in the country. He argues:
‘They say the debate over climate change is "over". Whatever Gore's movie's merits, it is not the job of government to indoctrinate children. I'm sure they also think the debate on many issues is "over". This is a very dangerous precedent to set.’
For me this is important territory for debate: where do we draw the line between ‘citizenship’ and ‘indoctrination’? Increasingly, politicians from across the political spectrum are keen that education serves to instill ‘British values’ (taught through conveying facts and analysis about British and world history), but yet there is nervousness about ‘indoctrination’ in other areas. Arguably this is what Gore’s film does: convey a fact (climate change) with analysis about it’s impact.
The film is emotive, but so is much history – including any disccussion of what British values and history really are. Perhaps the answer is that what really matters is the way such material is introduced: “here is an emotive film about climate change. The science is clear, but what we do about it isn’t” strikes me as a pretty good way of encouraging critcial engagement with the issue, whilst “Here’s Al Gore explaining how we’re all going to die unless we walk to work” looks a little more like brainwashing.
All of which feeds into a bigger set of questions: do we want to take the politics out of education? And is it even possible?