“Five luxury Harrods Hampers to be won!” That is the offer currently being made to teachers by the Times Educational Supplement resources website. What is more, by using the ‘FREEHAMPER” discount code you get “ a free teacher-created, classroom-tested resource costing £3 or less.” So what is on offer?
A model lesson for 11-14 year-olds caught my eye. It is entitled, Extremism: Christian terrorists.
The “learning objectives” under a sub-heading of “Abortion clinics” are
“To know an example of Christian terrorism”
“To explain Christian arguments for and against terrorism”
The “Learning outcomes” include:
“Explain how some Christians could use Situation Ethics to justify murder”
“Justify your opinion on whether murder is ever acceptable, using your own opinion as well as Christian arguments”
The example of “Christian terrorism” provided is an unattributed description of the shooting dead of George Tiller, “a prominent US abortion doctor”. President Obama is quoted: “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”
It is unlikely that many 11-year-olds or, even, 14-year-olds, will be mature enough or knowledgeable enough to understand the complex moral issues that relate to abortion in general and to the Tiller case in particular. Nor is it likely that many will wish to be plunged into it. For some, indeed, the whole issue could be deeply traumatic. Parents will be justified in feeling alarmed that this material is being promoted for classroom use in lower secondary school, with or without a Harrods Hamper backing it up.
The model lesson refers to “Situation Ethics”, the philosophical version of ‘value relativism’ whereby judgement is based on individual opinion and context. This provides the justification and shortcut for teaching children to see terrorist murder in terms of pros and cons. Terrorism is presented as a lifestyle choice that can be justified because everyone and anyone can choose that pathway, including Christians, the preachers of love and peace.
The only people likely to benefit from this material are those seeking to radicalise children by diluting the essence of evil and denigrating the Christian faith. The claim that Christianity promotes terrorism is one that will be seized on and manipulated by extremists.
Classroom teaching material of this nature would cause concern even as a ‘one-off’. Alarmingly, far from being exceptional, it is now part of ‘best practice’ in schools under the so-called British Values agenda that requires children to be taught to understand the point of view of those with whom they might disagree.
I have previously highlighted a model lesson from the same source that asked pupils to look at the “good reason for joining ISIS” such as being “one of the good guys” and the “fun being awarded some female slaves.” There is plenty of other similar material circulating in our schools and being promoted by reputable but naive outside bodies.
Teachers are being encouraged, with the bribe of a Harrods Hamper, to persuade children that Christians can be terrorists. Has the educational establishment finally gone completely mad?