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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Anti-capitalist guidance for schools is ludicrous | Letters

As a retired social sciences teacher, I am appalled but not surprised to hear that the Department for Education is instructing English schools not to use material that is critical of capitalism (Schools in England told not to use material from anti-capitalist groups, 27 September). I used to strive to present contemporary debates in a balanced fashion so that students could come to their own conclusions. We are now moving from implicitly to explicitly rightwing-biased social and historical curricula. This is the final nail in the coffin of teacher autonomy.

Prof Stuart Hall contended that this bias, when implicit, was part of a Gramscian social construction of neoliberal ideological hegemony that has been dominant since the 1970s. We are now seeing its full fruition with the culture war being led by No 10 and chorused in the rightwing press, with a parallel assault on journalism in the BBC and Channel 4. It is risible for the DfE to conflate capitalism with democracy.
Philip Wood
Kidlington, Oxfordshire

• The government has instructed schools not to use anti-capitalist material because it is an “extreme political stance”. Wikipedia defines capitalism as “an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit”.

The 10-point pledge by world leaders “to halt destruction of planet Earth” (World leaders pledge to halt Earth’s destruction ahead of UN summit, 28 September) refers to “unsustainable production and consumption” and the intent “to transform and reform our economic and financial sectors”. The pledge doesn’t use the word “capitalism”, but clearly this is what it is about. So what is surely the most significant worldwide planning for the future is precluded from discussion in schools.
Prof Michael Bassey
Coddington, Nottinghamshire

• I am a schoolteacher at a Catholic comprehensive, and though I am irreligious, part of my job means educating students about the messages of Catholicism. I cannot help but wonder if I am in danger of falling foul of the new dictum.

Couldn’t one interpret Jesus’s teachings on wealth (camels and needles, etc) to be anti-capitalist? Does that mean Catholic schools can no longer take publications from the Catholic church? When teaching philosophy, do I need to be concerned that Plato’s Republic seems to advocate a state-controlled, non-capitalist economy? God forbid they learn about – gulp – Karl Marx!

While I understand that we’re not being banned from merely teaching about such positions, the fact that schools must not associate with any organisation putting forth such ideas is a message that anti-capitalism is now an “extremist” view.
Jonathan Tamás
London

• The DfE guidance rules out materials from organisations involved in “the endorsement of illegal activity; and a failure to condemn illegal activities done in support of their cause”. So will materials from the government intending to break a Brexit treaty illegally also be banned?
Jo Tomalin
Sheffield

• So the DfE has created a codex of forbidden writers, including William Morris – better known as a fabric designer than a thinker of dangerous thoughts. The grim prophecy of Heinrich Heine comes to mind: “Where they start by burning books, they end up burning people.”
John D Walsh
Swindon, Wiltshire

• We should remove Boudicca from the curriculum. Provoked, yes, but an anti-immigration mass murderer.
Mike Williams
Swindon, Wiltshire

This post courtesy of Guardian-Climate

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This post courtesy of Guardian-Climate