One of the abiding memories of my 1970s education is that of witnessing a visiting supply teacher doing her utmost to convert a group of indolent teenagers into the next generation of green game-changers. She was young and evangelistic. We were younger and bored rigid. So the more she begged us to wake up to the crisis of pollution confronting us all, the more we just popped our bubble gum and sighed with profound indifference. Being at the back of the class, I was actually very well positioned to hear this sighing. This privileged vantage point was also no doubt helped by the fact that I was probably the prime contributor. After an hour of fruitless entreaty, the hapless teacher capitulated, defeated and clearly disgusted by the depths of our ecological stupor. We found her disgust hilarious.

How things have changed. In my day, aerosols, acid rain and global cooling were the order of the day, and you would be hard-pushed to find a kid who gave a shit. I guess we were all too distracted by the thought of nuclear annihilation and double french. Nowadays, the schoolchildren are fed on a daily diet of climate incineration and double Armageddon. You just can’t get away with the institutionalised apathy that we teenagers had perfected in the seventies.

Actually, my wife used to be a teacher but she retired long before the curriculum had centred upon how to traumatise children (before packing them off for eco-counselling). Even so, as a former member of the National Education Union (NEU), she still occasionally receives a copy of the union rag, unimprovably titled ‘Educate’. Normally, the arrival of this magazine precedes the judicious use of the recycling bin by less than five minutes, but this month a front page headline caused me to hesitate:

Eye on the planet: Pupils’ message to Cop26 – If not now, when?

I’m a lot more interested in ecology than I used to be in my bubble-gumming youth, so I broke the habit of a life-time and peered inside.

The article itself proved to be a disappointment. Apparently, a group of pupils from East London had ‘helped devise, design and paint a massive mural by the side of a busy dual carriageway used by thousands of motorists each day’. The mural featured a face ‘with Earth reflected in the eyes’. According to the article, this mural gave ‘a strong message for delegates to the COP26 climate conference in November’. Well, I suppose it might for those travelling there via Tower Hamlets, but let’s face it, the NEU’s coverage of this ‘news item’ had nothing to do with sending a message to COP26. Instead, it was a flimsy pretext for informing its own members of every stunt and spectacle with which the NEU wished to be associated in the run-up to COP26. In a footnote that is actually longer than the article itself, the reader is informed of the following ‘events and activities’:

  • School packs with case studies to use in class can be found at together-for-our-planet.ukcop26.org/schools-pack-resources.
  • ‘Climate in the Classroom’, a virtual climate education summit, is to be hosted by the University of Reading on 15 September (sadly too late for any of us to attend).
  • The ‘Great Big Green Week’ is to be held from 18-26 September, celebrating action on climate change.
  • ‘Climate and Employment Proof our Work’, a global day of action, is to be organised by the International Trade Union Confederation (sadly another day out that we have already missed).
  • There is to be a global climate strike on 24 September, co-ordinated by the youth-led campaign group ‘Fridays for Future’.
  • NEU member Ed Stubbs has written a guide on how to declare a climate emergency at your school or college.
  • The union is planning a season of climate change sessions over the coming months. Webinars from 9-11 November are expected to include themes such as climate change anxiety, Eco-Schools, sustainability, and how to incorporate climate change into lesson plans.
  • The NEU has its own climate change network.
  • NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney has contributed to an Inset training session on climate breakdown recorded by the UK Schools Sustainability Network for secondary school staff.
  • Campaigns group ‘Teach the Future’, led by students from across the UK, has a teachers’ network where educators can share resources and communicate with colleagues interested in climate education.

That’s an awful lot of networking going on there. ‘Organised’ is a dirty word when it comes to scepticism, but in the world of activism the word takes on a biblical resonance. And just to ram the point home, the last page of the NEU magazine is dedicated to the words of Paul Atkin, convenor of the NEU Climate Change Network, in which he bemoans the fact that there isn’t nearly enough being done in schools to raise the profile of the climate change issue. Having berated a curriculum ‘set for an imaginary planet on which climate change is not happening’, he calls for a curriculum review. ‘In the meantime’, he mournfully reports, ‘we have to do what we can with what we have got’.

Well, from what I can see, if the NEU’s efforts are anything to go by, no child in school will knowingly be left to think for themselves on this issue, irrespective of the curriculum. Furthermore, judging by the feature picture used for my own article (of a climate rally held in Islington, London, in February 2020), the children appear to be sufficiently well indoctrinated already. There’s not a pink bubble gum balloon in sight. God I miss the seventies!

25 Comments

  1. John, there’s no need to miss the seventies. Blackouts and a winter of discontent are just around the corner. We’ll be able to wallow in nostalgia very soon. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. John, you perhaps have de-remembered that it was the sacred duty of schoolchildren everywhere to make teacher’s lives as miserable as possible. Supply teachers were always considered fair game and given special treatment.

    “She who must be listened to” taught English in the U.K. and Canada, and for some years was a supply teacher. She says the trick was to be both ruthless and interesting, and at one school pupils identified her as “Special K”. Another way of gaining respect she believes was to recognise and show appreciation for wit from the opposition.

    I don’t recall my school days (in the 1950s) that well but I believe they were very regimented. One reason was that the percentage of grammar school kids going on to university was so small (less than 4% if I recall correctly). If you were disruptive you could be thrown out and would have to spend your school days in a dreaded secondary modern. You didn’t mess around if you wanted to be accepted into the sixth form or later into university. I recon that by the 1970s you had it easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From John R’s ‘school packs’ link above, here’s an official UK govt publication called ‘How to Use Our Climate Leaders Tools’:

    URL:2mz3cl41kqjo1ux57s8ivm51-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/HOW-TO-USE-CLIMATE-LEADERS-TOOLS.pdf

    It’s not as debauched as it sounds but it’s still pretty disgusting.

    ===
    Irrelevant footnote: NEU? 1970s? Here’s the proper stuff:

    URL:www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAXYMOgHQI4

    Like

  4. In the depths of winter when it’s freezing cold, all schools with gas-fired heating (the majority) should have it turned it off unannounced. The ‘activist’ teachers will likely be the first to whinge and walk out.

    Like

  5. “Leicester schoolchildren join climate change protest”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-58683678

    “Two hundred schoolchildren in Leicester have taken to the streets as part of a global protest over climate change.

    It is the first Fridays for Future march in two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, with others being held around the world.

    Pupils from seven Leicester schools joined the march from Belgrave Road in the city to Abbey Park.

    Many said they wanted adults to do more to help give them a chance of a better future.”

    If they want a better future they might be well advised to complete their education. Just a thought.

    “Their teacher Sheetal Mistry, said environmental issues had been incorporated into the curriculum in several subjects and added: “The students are very passionate that they want to make a change starting now.””

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I watched the Good Morning Britain video with Liam Norton from Insulate Britain. The hosts clearly did not share his sense of urgency about the imminent collapse of society. It is likely that he is a product of the climate change school curriculum as he sincerely believes Britain will be destroyed unless houses are insulated. He wants to “save the next generation from destruction”. Schools are feeding this crazy stuff to pupils but climate scientists must also bear some responsibility. Why are they not speaking out against this apocalyptic nonsense?

    Like

  7. Alan,

    I’m still old enough to have lived through the era of the dreaded secondary modern and, were it not for the fact that someone obviously took pity on me, I might very well have been sent there with my two older brothers. Instead, it must have been clear to someone that I would not last two minutes tackling the bicycle-chain wielding gangs and so, even though I was never required to sit the eleven plus, I was ferreted off to the local grammar school, where rhetoric, irony and sarcasm delivered in pithy Latin were the only weapons of the playground. Even so, unable to conjugate my verbs well enough to counter the school bully, I emerged from the experience bruised and traumatized.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vinny,

    I took a look at the Climate Leader Tools booklet, and I have to say that it was quite chilling — straightforward instructions on how to employ propaganda, complete with standardized text to use. And the worst thing was that it wasn’t produced by some wacky Outreach-style communications charity, or the teaching unions, or the schools themselves — it was produced by the UK Government!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. potentilla, schools are not speaking out against this because they believe it. In a wider sense it no longer matters what is true, only what is virtuous. And it looks as if challenge of demonstrating virtue has now withered up until all you have to do is to mouth the correct platitudes: hypocrisy is rife, but has become trifling. We have seen lately that many of the virtuous do not behave in a way compatible with their stated beliefs, and while that might trigger sceptics, it does not trouble fellow hypocrites. The alarmism dial is pegged, everywhere: all political parties, news media, schools, universities, charities, multinational organisations… never mind the stupidity of the things they come out with, their words demonstrate amply that they are on the side of Good.

    As I have said before, this all-pervasive belief in catastrophic climate change may be as thin as a piece of paper. In other words, when the ordure hits the rotating aerofoil, that needle will peg the other way faster than you can say “power cut.”

    My optimism has been dimmed somewhat by the current events, and the snake-like way opinion formers are twisting the facts to place the blame not on too much greenery, but too little. Add more wind and we will be exempt from the vagaries of the international gas market! These dolts probably believe it, too. A whole field of their minds has been shut off to external data. We see it everywhere: problems spelled out in a logical, progressive fashion… and then, at the last, just when it is obviously on the tip of our correspondent’s tongue to pin the blame on our mad headlong hurtle towards Net Zero… something cross-circuits in their mind, and they hear themselves saying, as if from a room away, that the fault is too much reliance on fossil fuels.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Jit,

    All too true. The capacity to avoid obvious logical conclusions is very strong in mankind.

    Take the example of the so-called ’leadership’ being shown by schoolchildren. Knowing how dependent they are upon their adult mentors for reliable information, we take advantage by ensuring their heads are filled with the information required to ensure acceptance of the adult agenda. We call it education. Unsurprisingly, after a while the children then start to respond to this inculcation of ideas by spouting back the mantra. Strong inculcation leads to a strong response. And yet, despite this response having been the desired result from the outset, we act with surprise as if the children had worked it all out for themselves and are now in a position to introduce the adults to insights that they had not seen for themselves. But this amazement and respect is all part of the charade. The feigned humility in the face of juvenile wisdom is all part of the theatre. We set out to deceive ourselves and so have to conveniently overlook that fact in order to complete the self-deception. It is every bit as pathetic as it is fascinating to observe. The shame is that it works so well.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. “In a wider sense it no longer matters what is true, only what is virtuous”

    Classic culture in charge.

    “We have seen lately that many of the virtuous do not behave in a way compatible with their stated beliefs…”

    Strong cultural beliefs are in essence fairy-tales, which almost no-one could realistically comply with anyhow (and in fact the cultural narrative must be as distanced as possible from reality in order to serve purpose). The emotive commitment to belief bypasses the rationality that otherwise would make this obvious to adherents. What matters, is signalling membership of the cultural club; such signalling is generally in direct contradiction to reality, and typically the stated aims too, because the culture picks ‘solutions’ that *cannot possibly work* (because real solutions would kill the culture), for instance renewables. And it’s subconscious; largely, they genuinely believe that they’re saving the planet.

    “The alarmism dial is pegged, everywhere: all political parties, news media, schools, universities, charities, multinational organisations… never mind the stupidity of the things they come out with, their words demonstrate amply that they are on the side of Good.”

    Yep, pretty much the global state (secular) religion now.

    “As I have said before, this all-pervasive belief in catastrophic climate change may be as thin as a piece of paper. In other words, when the ordure hits the rotating aerofoil, that needle will peg the other way faster than you can say “power cut.” ”

    Well predicting the future is hard. But I think there will no such sudden reversal. The cultural inertia within this thing is a juggernaught; it will not slow easily never mind go into reverse. It can make black into white in despite of democracy, the law, science, engineering and common sense. Even if/when faced with ultimate challenges, it will evolve along different directions (having already backed every horse possible via narrative branching) rather than simply snuff out.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Unsurprisingly, after a while the children then start to respond to this inculcation of ideas by spouting back the mantra. Strong inculcation leads to a strong response. And yet, despite this response having been the desired result from the outset, we act with surprise as if the children had worked it all out for themselves and are now in a position to introduce the adults to insights that they had not seen for themselves. But this amazement and respect is all part of the charade. The feigned humility in the face of juvenile wisdom is all part of the theatre.”

    All very true. But it’s somewhat worse. Children are primed to pick up cultural templates, and the ‘strong inculcation’ is exactly in this form. Hence new fully committed believers can be churned out en-masse without any of the inconvenient questioning that even sympathetic adults may sometimes field; adults are generally a lot more resistant to new cultural beliefs that weren’t primed within their own childhoods. And indeed, the ‘voice of innocence’ is then used to justify the very template being fed to children. And all the children so fed have effectively had their rationality on the subject turned hard-off in basic brain firmware.
    https://judithcurry.com/2019/07/29/child-prophets-and-proselytizers-of-climate-catastrophe/

    Liked by 4 people

  13. “hmm…er, Special K…?”

    “A breakfast cereal for the lower classes, M’lud.”

    “I am indebted to you Counsel…continue your questioning.”

    Like

  14. It’s not just ideologies being force fed to their children that parents need to worry about. Here is a school in Lancashire that has decided to ban meat from their school meals:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10515015/Fury-primary-school-bans-MEAT-lunchboxes-canteen-Parents-blast-ludicrous-rule.html

    “ In the letter, headteacher Rachel Tomlinson said she had made the decision in order to ‘stop climate change’.”

    Worse still, her decision to ‘stop climate change’ was implemented a year before the parents were notified. Well, Rachael, how is it going? Has climate change stopped yet?

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have opined before that I would like to see the opposite of a like button here. Not that I disapprove of or dislike your comment; rather I disapprove of and dislike headteachers such as the one you have highlighted. I worry greatly that people like her are in charge of children (assuming, of course, that the Daily Mail report is accurate).

    Like

  16. Mark. Suppose you have a dislike button which you press to show your dislike of the headteacher referred to by John. I read John’s article and see your dislike. What am I to conclude.? That you disapprove of the headteacher, or what she stands for, or something John wrote?

    For many years I just couldn’t physically like and if I particularly enjoyed something another had written, I had to write a post telling them so. Always the best way I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Alan, true enough. I would hate to think that if we had, say, a frowning face button and I used it, that might be taken to imply that I disliked John’s comment. So, maybe the lack of a dislike button is for the best. 😊

    Like

  18. I liked John’s comment, before seeing the like/dislike debate that followed. It was for this:

    Well, Rachael, how is it going? Has climate change stopped yet?

    All such endeavours are responsibility-free. Taking responsibility would mean admitting the aim of stopping climate change is ridiculous from the start. Don’t teach children to be responsibility-free and, worse, to think that being so is great virtue.

    Worse still, her decision to ‘stop climate change’ was implemented a year before the parents were notified.

    There are echoes here of the deep distrust that is sown between the generations by the way a child’s self-identifying as the opposite sex is covered up by schools in front of parents but taken as the equivalent of holy writ when they’re not around. Nothing good can come of this.

    Like

  19. The BBC led with this today:

    “Schools in England given guidance to avoid biased teaching”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-60405521

    You might think that this would be good news for those of us who are concerned that a bias towards green politics is infiltrating our education system. After all, as the article points out, the promotion of partisan political views in class is unlawful under the 1996 Education Act:

    “This means that where teachers present controversial political views in a lesson, they must offer a balanced overview of opposing views.”

    Unfortunately, I suspect that some may have differing views as to what constitutes a controversial political view, as opposed to settled science. It’s the old problem of how to identify ‘misinformation’. To the teaching unions, the identification is straightforward:

    “Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton welcomed the guidance, saying it comes at a time when ‘young people are exposed to a swirl of misinformation online, and an increasingly toxic discourse on social media’.”

    So believe everything that your schoolteacher tells you and ignore Cliscep.

    Fortunately, there is some comfort to be found in the words of the Ofsted chief:

    “Teach the science behind climate change not a ‘morality tale’, says Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman”

    https://inews.co.uk/news/education/teach-science-climate-change-morality-ofsted-chief-amanda-spielman-778882

    Even so, I am not terribly reassured.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Being an I’m-sure-there’s-a molecule-of-H2O-in-the-glass-that-Ridgway-hasn’t-detected kind of guy I was heartened by that statement by Amanda Spielman from December 2020 (which I’d not noticed, thanks) and by this from gov.uk aka the Privy Council in May 2021: Amanda Spielman to continue as Ofsted Chief Inspector which takes her through to December 2023. Climate change as morality tale or something quasi-religious? Who would use such phrases?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. John:

    “The BBC led with this today:

    “Schools in England given guidance to avoid biased teaching”

    Sorry, but government diktat won’t stop teacher biases. As an illustration, let me tell you a story:-

    My family moved from Northamptonshire to South Wales when I was 13. History lessons then became an eye-opener. The teacher in the first school was an ardent Yorkist, who believed that Richard III was an OK bloke who had been cruelly libelled by Shakespear. While the teacher in the second school, because he was Welsh, believed that Shakespear’s account was true and that Henry VI was the best thing that ever happened to England.

    And that sowed the seeds of an understanding that authority was usually no more than someone’s opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Bill: Great story. I agree with you that “government diktat won’t stop teacher biases” and, for myself, I’m very grateful it can’t. Not without further totalitarian machinery.

    To balance up that thought, Thomas Sowell has often written powerfully about the cultural issues raised here. For example:

    Recent videos of American children in school singing songs of praise for Barack Obama were a little much, especially for those of us old enough to remember pictures of children singing the praises of dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

    But you don’t need a dictator to make you feel queasy about the manipulation of children. The mindset that sees children in school as an opportunity for teachers to impose their own notions, instead of developing the child’s ability to think for himself or herself, is a dangerous distortion of education.

    Parents send their children to school to acquire the knowledge that has come down to us as a legacy of our culture — whether it is mathematics, science, or whatever — so that those children can grow up and go out into the world equipped to face life’s challenges.

    Too many “educators” see teaching not as a responsibility to the students but as an opportunity for themselves — whether to indoctrinate a captive audience with the teacher’s ideology, manipulate them in social experiments or just do fun things that make teaching easier, whether or not it really educates the child.

    That was in October 2009. A month before Climategate, which was about corruption at an ostensibly higher level of education. Perhaps we haven’t been able to deal very well with those revelations because of the corruption of education further down. “Developing the child’s ability to think for himself or herself” is key.

    Liked by 1 person

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