Edjukashun Educayshun Ejewkashan

by | May 8, 2007

Crisis politics expresses itself most visibly in any debate about children. Children are such a problem for the government that on top of countless other ‘initiatives’ devised to make sure they are obedient, don’t get fat, don’t have sex, dont do drugs, don’t smoke, don’t smash stuff up (and all of the other things most children never do) is a new scheme to terrify them about the future. Or bore them rigid.

A resource pack to help teachers and pupils explore and understand the issues surrounding climate change was sent to every secondary school in England today…The pack, which includes the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth and a number of other resources, was developed by Defra and the Department for Education and Skills. It is accompanied by online teaching guidance showing how to use the resources in the pack in science, geography and citizenship lessons.

‘Citizenship lessons’ are a recent invention by the UK government to get young people to engage with society, rather than become ‘antisocial’. This kind of social orientation reveals the lack of confidence the government has in the children themselves, their parents, the naturally socialising effect of school, and the initiative and goodwill of teachers, and undermines them each accordingly. Consequently, education is less about teaching stuff – equipping children with the tools that enable them to make up their own minds – and more about creating ‘model’ citizens (and, importantly, the role of government becomes more parental). Now, it seems, the risks of children not thinking what the government wants them to think are simply too great (it could mean the end of life on earth), and it hopes to educate away problems facing society.

Anyway, some significant scientific controversies in Gore’s film, and the film’s political message have angered one parent sufficiently that he is now seeking a judicial review of the project, hoping to get an injunction to stop it.

We at Climate Resistance are uncomfortable about the use of the legal system in this way, for the same reason we think Bob Ward’s letter to Ofcom is wrong. Legal mechanisms are no substitute for democracy. But on the other hand, what else is Stuart Dimmock, the father who hopes the case will go to court, to do? There is no political challenge to environmentalism, which is fast becoming a state religion.

The BBC reported Schools Minister Jim Knight as saying, ‘Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing our planet today […] This pack will help to give young people information and inspiration to understand and debate the issues around climate change, and how they as individuals and members of a community should respond to it.’

The government is seeking to engineer how people and communities perceive the world, respond to it, and what kind of fears should preoccupy them. This is thoroughly illiberal. So illiberal, in fact, that to justify that it is acting in our interests, the government needs something big – something like the imminent end of the world as we know it. As we have pointed out before, environmental concerns are serving to provide direction for directionless politics. Putting a stop to that will take more than a challenge from the High Court. The crisis is not in the atmosphere, nor in the fragile minds of feral children, it is in Westminster.


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