Saturday 7 April 2007

More joys of the state education system

Teachers at British state schools - particularly those in London - have a lot to worry about. Many of them simply cannot maintain control of their own classrooms. And then there's the well-documented spate of violence across schools in London, so bad that some parents are now sending their children to school in stab-proof vests. Not to mention reports of children being forced to perform sex acts on one another, and rapes in the classroom.

So, given all this, what has the head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) been complaining about today? Well, of course: the concept of "Britishness" lessons in schools. Baljeet Ghale, president of the NUT, thinks that teaching "Britishness" is racist:

At the NUT conference, in Harrogate, Ms Ghale said Education Secretary Alan Johnson had described the "values we hold very dear in Britain" as "free speech, tolerance, respect for the rule of law".

"Well, in what way, I'd like to know, are these values that are not held by the peoples of other countries?" she said.

Well, Ms Ghale came to the UK from Kenya aged eight. Perhaps she would like to return to Kenya, and see how well protected free speech is there. And, while Kenya is in no way as intolerant as, say, your average Islamic state, one would hardly describe it as being a tolerant country. Take this description of tolerance in her homeland, written by a Kenyan student (one who, unlike Ms Ghale, did not get to run off to Britain, gain the benefits of living in Britain, and then stab Britain in the back):

Over the past few years Kenya has been experiencing different forms of intolerance, the major being tribal clashes. The first tribal clashes occurred in 1992 in the Rift Valley province around the Molo regions between the Luo's and the Kikuyu's. Ever since, these two tribes have been disputing. In 1997, the Mijikenda on the coast decided that all "non-people" should go. Many people were slain in Likoni and hundreds were displaced. Now the clashes have moved back to Molo areas, and they have spread since the beginning of the year.

Or this one:

Most cases of intolerance fighting occurring in Kenya today have resulted in many cases where people die during these fights in different ethnic groups. In most cases, the people who die are the innocents who have done nothing, while the people who are involved in the fighting have no compromise with the innocent.
As for the rule of law: well, perhaps the people of Kenya respect it, but their government, one of the most notoriously corrupt in the entire world, doesn't seem to.

Perhaps this would help explain to Ms Ghale why free speech, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law have a greater claim to be British values than to be the values of most other nations on Earth. But I would emphasise that to limit the teaching of "Britishness" to these things - as the government does, for fear of offending the mulitculturalist likes of Ms Ghale - is idiocy. We also need to teach British culture - art, poetry, literature, history, religion, etc - to truly emphasise to children who we are, and where we come from.

But somehow I don't think that Ms Ghale is going to say that. What, then, does she say?

She wanted an education system that valued diversity and accepted her right to support Tottenham Hotspur - but France in the European Cup, Brazil in the World Cup, Kenya in the Olympics and India in cricket but England in the Ashes.

She went on: "I certainly don't pass Tebbit's cricket test but none of my affiliations make me a less valuable person or less committed to being part of this society, but they do make me a global citizen."

For some people, racism lay behind notions of what it meant to be British, she said.

The government's move was not about integration, participation or national pride but failure to assimilate or who should be here in the first place.

"To demand that people conform to an imposed view of Britishness only fuels that racism," Ms Ghale said.
And, what, precisely, is Ms Ghale's definition of "Britishness", other than a person who actually feels an affiliation, not to France, Kenya, or India, but to Britain, and who is part of British culture? Of course, like most leftists when they get talking about things like this, she doesn't feel the need to provide an answer. She doesn't have one, after all.
In her wider attack on Labour's record, the NUT president gave examples of failures in the school rebuilding programme, such as a new roof on part of a school being removed because the supplier had not been paid.

She said the money being spent on academies should be spread more widely around the system and she highlighted the smaller class sizes enjoyed by pupils in Cuba.

Right. So she attacks the government for suggesting that free speech, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law are more commonly found in Britain than in most other countries, and then praises Cuba. That's Cuba, the racist, totalitarian, communist dictatorship.

Who is Baljeet Ghale, and what great deeds has she committed to become head of the NUT? Well, a quick google search reveals that she formerly taught English at Stepney Green School. In 2004 that institution was the fourth worst in the whole of Tower Hamlets. Now that is pretty bad. Then it became Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, and improved somewhat. Still not the kind of place you'd want your children to go to, though. Perhaps with a record like this Ms Ghale should be more interested in raising educational standards than in PC posturing.

But then I discovered some more fun facts about Baljeet Ghale. It seems she's also a bit of a lefty. Well, that is a surprise. To be particular, she's a member of the far-left Socialist Teachers Alliance. The STA has, among other strings to its bow, a Cuba Solidarity Campaign (hence Ms Ghale's fondness for the communist tyranny) , a Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an "anti-racist campaign", and an anti-war campaign. All topics highly relevant to education. And wouldn't you just love Ms Ghale to be teaching your kids?

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