Last weekend’s National Union of Teachers conference confirmed that schooling, subject to conflicting ideological and cultural pressures, has lost any sense of common purpose. It has also lost a sense of what it is to socialise children. Indeed, if the motions debated at the NUT conference reflect wider trends in teaching, it seems socialisation has turned into a caricature of itself.
Take two of the motions debated and passed at the NUT conference. The first asserted that government should be ‘forced’ to portray gay relationships in a positive light. It called on teachers to put pressure on the government ‘to make it compulsory that all schools’ sex-education policies include a positive portrayal of same-sex relationships’. The second motion asserted that teachers should be able to avoid class discussions of Islamic extremism. The justification for this, as NUT general secretary Christine Blower put it, is that ‘some of our members are frightened to discuss things in class because they are worried that if there’s any discussion that they will have to report this to the police’.