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Chris McGovern: Believe it or not our schools are teaching our kids the Isis viewpoint


“Give three good reasons for joining Isis. Seen from the point of view of a victim, of course, it is atrocious. But how do you think it is when seen from the point of view of a soldier of the faith? Isn’t it rather a challenge, rather a good way of getting to be important?  Rather fun being awarded some female slaves? And you are one of the good guys too!”

It might come as a surprise to the Education Secretary and, even, to MI5 to see how the “British Values” agenda is currently translating into classroom practice. The learning task for pupils, quoted above, comes from the “Resources” section of The Times Educational Supplement (TES) website, which claims to be “largest network of teachers in the world”. It is one of many teaching resources available, free of charge, to any teacher who is looking for what might be regarded as ‘good practice’.

This lesson plan meets the requirement placed on schools by circular DFE-00679-2014 (“British Values”) to promote “mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faith and belief”. What better way to develop understanding of others than to imagine yourselves in their shoes, looking through their eyes?

Such ‘enlightened’ teaching may be ‘right on’ with regard to Ofsted and the Government’s current notion of “British Values”. Sadly, however, it is likely to have some unfortunate, if unintended, consequences. For immature minds an ‘understanding’ of terrorism can easily develop into tolerance and sympathy. If a government were seeking to find a way to radicalise susceptible youngsters, value relativism such as this, would be the way to achieve it.

Nothing, it seems, has moved on since the late 1980s when my history department, at Lewes Priory Comprehensive School in East Sussex, sounded the alarm about model GCSE empathy questions that, for example, asked pupils to imagine that they were PLO terrorists and to explain why they hijacked and blew up an Israeli passenger plane. Equally worrying, at the time, was a BBC book for schools that presented the Brighton bombing largely through the eyes of the IRA.

The naivety of Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, and her department, is both extraordinary and dangerous. Here are some more questions from the same lesson plan:

What do you think the future of Isis is? Is it sensible to bomb and fight them?

 Write a short defence (we call it an Apology– the very opposite of saying sorry!) for Isis’s behaviour. Why do they do it?

 What do you have to do if you cannot actually go out to join Isis in Syria? What does this show you about Isis?”

Doubtless, the lesson plan will be defended on the grounds of ‘balance’, for it does inform pupils about the victims of terrorism:

 “Also you do have to ask yourself what kind of idea people who behave like Isis think of their God. Does He really sit there and enjoy the sight of gallons of blood as dignified men have their throats cut? Of women being raped and turned into slaves? Of children being made into orphans, watching their parents killed in front of their eyes?”

It then goes on to ask:

 “What are Isis thinking about when they are doing all this?

 Luckily we have their magazine, Dabiq, which proudly explains to the shocked world what they are  doing. Here is an excerpt from Issue No 1…”

In fact, pupils are presented with lengthy extract from two different editions of the Isis mag. They are, also, informed:

“If you want to read any more of the magazine articles – the entire series is produced, in English here, scroll down to covers:”

It is time for the Education Department and for the security services to wake up.

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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