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Should politics be kept out of the classroom?

8 December 2017

12:44 PM

8 December 2017

12:44 PM

I don’t like having a go at a colleague. Especially not one as talented as the Sunday Times‘ Emma Barnett, one of the best interviewers around. But a certain detachment escaped Emma yesterday while interviewing a woman called Jackie Teale on her Radio 5 Live show (which is usually very good). Teale was there because she had been in the ‘eye of a storm’ – a regular feature of the show. More specifically, she had been the victim of a ‘false news’ story by the journalist Katie Hopkins. Teale is, or was, a teacher. Hopkins alleged she had taken some of her pupils to an anti-Trump demo in London. This wasn’t true: the Mail Online withdrew the allegation and agreed to pay Teale substantial damages.

All fair enough, and I have no time for Hopkins. But what bothered me was the lack of curiosity on Barnett’s part about what actually HAD happened. Teale had taken a banner made by her 12-year old pupils to the fatuous demo – this she admitted. But why should her pupils be furnishing the woman with a banner which she can take out to do a spot of virtue signalling? Was there a discussion about Trump in the class? If so, was it even-handed? Or did the kids get, from Teale, a tirade of right-on bollocks? It bothered me too that Teale referred to ‘reasonable values’, as opposed, she said, to ‘unreasonable views’. What they, ed? She was not challenged at all.

Jackie Teale was undoubtedly unfairly maligned by Hopkins. But here’s my unreasonable view: Teale is exactly the person I do not want teaching my children. She is clearly intolerant of views which oppose her own, considering them ‘unreasonable’. And I would guess, too, that she has stuffed her very young pupils’ heads with her own idiotic political sentiments. If I’m wrong about that, Teale, well I apologise. But I’m not, am I?


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