Six years ago, John Cleese gave a brief talk about how political correctness could lead to an Orwellian nightmare, in which he tells the following joke: “How do you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans.”
The joke was intended to be an example of an inclusive joke, but even that one may fall short of the modern ideological standards of ‘inclusion’, given the joke assumes that God is a male. Cleese also tells how he’d been advised not to visit most university campuses, and it is telling that the situation at universities has only deteriorated in this respect in these past six years.
I had a plan to spend a few years at one of the big four professional services firms, perhaps spend a few years working as an in-house accountant somewhere, and then, at about 35 years-old, I would move into teaching Economics. I told God this plan, and God did indeed laugh, because at the age of 25 I left my job at one of the big four, and I am currently doing my PGCE 10 years ahead of schedule, and, now that I’m four months in, I have to say that some of what is being taught to trainee teachers deeply concerns me.
I will, for the purposes of this article, leave alone the general infantilisation that pervades the university education system, although it is incredibly frustrating, simply because there are more pressing matters to discuss. And I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the three main areas that need to be highlighted here are covid, critical theories and EDI in general, and climate change.
I’ll start with Covid, because I find myself agreeing with the university when they say that trainee teachers would find it valuable to have a session dedicated to learning how to handle scenarios at school where students are worried about potential future lockdowns, have developed mental health conditions because of lockdowns, are obstinately (read: nobly) refusing to wear a mask, or subscribe to various covid-related ‘conspiracy’ theories. I do however completely disagree with the conclusions those educating trainee teachers draw, and the advice that is given.
For example, how could it possibly be good advice to try to allay a child’s concerns by saying that “lockdowns were a necessary imposition, and, although you’ve suffered, it’s been for a good cause and for the benefit of society”. Not only is this almost certainly not true, and not something I could ever tell a child, but why do people think that telling a child, who’s brain has not finished developing, who has suffered immensely, and who’s perception of the world is still largely egocentric, that their suffering was not only justified, but also that it is less important that some intangible, abstract, potential benefit that they cannot clearly grasp?
This type of thinking truly baffles me, but not as much as the insistence that lockdowns have been right and virtuous, even when we’ve had specific sessions on the harms that recurring lockdowns inflicted on young people and the damage it did to their mental health. The understanding of these costs is there, and it is being taught, which I suppose can only mean that the perceived benefits must be hugely overinflated in the minds of these educators of future educators.
Or perhaps there simply isn’t much thought being put into the matter: at this point in time, online learning, mask-wearing, regular testing, and pro-vaccine virtue signalling have all been so normalised that no one seems to question any of it. This week alone there were plenty of messages on the group chats of people uploading pictures of their negative LFTs, congratulations to people for their self-isolating, and unironic reminders for everyone to “get boosted now”. To say I feel unwelcome on these group chats is an understatement.
But the Covid nonsense is only a third of the unholy trinity of indoctrination currently underway. We have been given required reading assignments of papers written within a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework that draw subjective and unscientific conclusions from a sample of three people which are taken at face value, and elevated to a position of ‘truth’ (an entire afternoon of ‘teacher training’ was dedicated to discussing the ‘findings’ of this paper). But it isn’t just CRT that has been required learning; there have also been sessions on ‘equality, diversity, and inclusion’ that have covered myriad elements of the woke ideology, including a morning on sexual inclusion that, as a gay man and in a position of relative authority, I found myself fundamentally disagreeing with almost the whole way through. There was also a session delivered recently called ‘Social Justice in Mathematics’ in which we were reminded that the second (of only three) 4,000-word assignments is on ‘inclusion’, and in which it was pointed out that social justice is a “big issue throughout the PGCE”. I have also been informed that there will be an entire day next term for what is down in the calendar as an ‘Inclusion Conference’.
Finally, there is climate change. Two sessions have already been delivered on the ‘dangers’ of climate change and there will apparently be two days next term devoted to climate change, including an entire day for discussing how we, as teachers, can incorporate teachings on climate change into our own lessons. I’m not sure I will be in attendance.
I could talk at length with more examples, but there are some key points that need to be made. Firstly, the obvious: should teachers ever be teaching these things to pupils when there is so much that is subjective or unknown? Secondly, do these people who keep moving our teaching online not realise how little value people take out of these online sessions? The majority leave their cameras off and mics on mute throughout all the sessions, most likely paying no attention, and I know for a fact that many take online ‘learning’ to be a sufficient excuse for the evenings and nights the days before to be an opportunity to go out and party.
Thirdly, a huge amount of time is devoted to what I have described as indoctrination. If you combine the lack of value from the vast amount of time spent online with the huge amount of time wasted on this political indoctrination, then it cannot be the case that the education system as it currently exists is producing the best teachers, or drawing out the best of the current trainee teachers. And if this is the case, this can only end up further hurting the younger generations of this country who have already been so neglected.
This article was written by a trainee teacher who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous.