Matthew Hickley, Daily Mail (London), September 12, 2009
Three-quarters of teachers in Britain’s schools believe they should warn pupils about the dangers of patriotism–which some regard as a form of ‘brainwashing’, researchers have found.
A nationwide study found the majority of teachers felt they should not be promoting the subject at all in the classroom, with some preferring to instruct their pupils in the benefits of ‘universal brotherhood’.
And even those who felt positively about patriotism felt the need to qualify and tone down their support, stressing that they disliked ‘jingoistic flag-waving’.
The findings are a blow for the Government after Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke out in favour of encouraging pupils to be patriotic, calling for ‘Britishness’ lessons to be part of the curriculum.
The study by the Institute of Education at the University of London surveyed teachers and pupils at 20 secondary schools, and found 74 per cent believed it was their duty to point out the danger of patriotic sentiments.
‘Praising patriotism excludes non-British pupils,’ one teacher told researchers.
‘Patriotism about being British divides groups along racial lines, when we aim to bring pupils to an understanding of what makes us the same.’
Other responses included:
* ‘We shouldn’t be promoting patriotism. We should be promoting universal brotherhood.’
* ‘I think we should identify as humans.’
* ‘I don’t think you should be grooming children to be patriotic. That’s as bad as telling everyone that they’ve got to be a certain religion–I am not going to brainwash anyone.’
While two-thirds of teachers claimed they encouraged discussion of patriotism in their classrooms, more than half of pupils said patriotism was never discussed at school.
In their report, Dr Joanne Pearce and Dr Michael Hand argue much of history and politics is incomprehensible without understanding of the power of patriotic sentiment.
They told the Times Educational Supplement: ‘Schools have a responsibility to ensure that students not only understand the phenomenon of patriotism, but are equipped to make reasoned judgments about the place it should occupy in their own emotional lives.’
Novelist and commentator Frederick Forsyth said: ‘I wish these teachers would see that patriotism in the sense of that quiet pride is nothing to be afraid of. It’s not aggressive. It doesn’t put down foreigners. It doesn’t noisily wave flags and it certainly doesn’t swerve towards the BNP.’
Pupils at a state comprehensive school are to be given therapy lessons by staff from a celebrity rehab clinic on drug addiction, anger management and eating disorders.
Teachers at Notley High, Braintree, Essex, have teamed up with experts from the private Priory hospitals, which are better known for helping celebrities such as Amy Winehouse overcome their excesses.
They have developed a programme of cognitive behaviour therapy to tackle issues including anger, low self esteem, eating disorders and drug addiction.
Staff hope the voluntary lessons will help pupils avoid developing such problems in the first place.