Laura Clark, Daily Mail (London), Jan. 25, 2007
Children will be taught race relations and multiculturalism with every subject they study—from Spanish to science—under controversial changes to the school curriculum announced by the Government.
In music and art, they could have to learn Indian and Chinese songs and instruments, and West African drumming.
In maths and science, key Muslim contributions such algebra and the number zero will be emphasised to counter Islamophobia.
And in English, pupils will study literature on the experiences of migration—such as Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth, or Brick Lane, by Monica Ali.
One critic accused Education Secretary Alan Johnson of ‘politicising’ lessons with the new agenda. Tory MP Douglas Carswell, a member of the Commons education select committee, said schools will be vehicles for multicultural propaganda and classrooms turned into ‘laboratories for politically-correct thought’.
Mr Johnson was also attacked over attempts to put Britishness on the curriculum as it emerged that suggested core values are so woolly they could apply to many countries.
With concerns that standards in the three Rs are unacceptable, ministers will also face accusations that they are diverting attention away from vital subjects.
Under the recommendations—put forward in a report by former headmaster Sir Keith Ajegbo—teachers will be expected to make ‘explicit references to cultural diversity’ in as many subjects as possible.
A new central theme covering ‘identity and diversity’ will be added to citizenship classes, which have been compulsory since 2002.
Pupils should be encouraged to discuss topics such as immigration, the legacy of the British Empire, the Commonwealth and the EU.
Teaching on immigration, including recent population movement from Eastern Europe, should touch on the benefits it brings to the economy and society, while also bringing ‘political discontent and criticism’.
Pupils could even be tested on their attitudes to diversity in A-level and GCSEs, which will be redrafted to ensure they include ‘issues related to diversity’.
But Professor Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham, asked: ‘Do the Government have in mind a Britishness test for youngsters born in this country, as they do with people who arrive from other countries?’
Meanwhile, information technology lessons would involve joint Web projects or video-conferencing with youngsters around the world.
Sir Keith, whose report was commissioned following last July’s suicide bomb attacks in London, warned that pupils could become ‘disaffected’ and ‘alienated’ if they felt unable to discuss cultural issues in subject areas.
‘Education for diversity must be viewed as a whole-curriculum focus,’ he said.
However, Mr Carswell said: ‘This report is prescribing precisely the wrong medicine to heal the wounds of a society that multiculturalism has divided. This is a stark example of the politically- correct lobby hijacking the citizenship agenda.
‘Recent arrivals to this country have all the more reason to be given a sense of what we are all about so they can become part of it and share it. But instead this will give the green light to every politically-correct Left-Wing educationist to further undermine our society.’
Teachers’ unions warned that the curriculum is too crowded already to cope with extra demands.
John Dunford, general secretary of the headteachers’ union ASCL, said: ‘Once again, the burden is falling on schools to fix a problem which has its roots in the wider society.’