“…One of the most significant events of 2021 was the revolt of frustrated and angry parents in Virginia, against the teaching of so-called critical race theory in local schools.
The revolt precipitated the shock defeat of a one-time Virginia governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, at the hands of Republican Glenn Youngkin in November’s gubernatorial elections. This was not just a serious setback for the Biden presidency, in a state the Democrats won easily in 2020; it also demonstrated, perhaps for the first time in the current phase of the culture wars, that the social-engineering efforts of America’s cultural elites can be contained – and perhaps even defeated.
The parents’ revolt certainly laid bare the arrogance of the cultural elites.
These attempts to denigrate or dismiss the protests ignore their main driver – parents’ concern about the academic and moral education of their children. Many adults may silently put up with manifestations of woke culture in everyday life, but they will react when they realise their child is being encouraged to adopt values antithetical to their own.
This is not confined to the US. Parents in Great Britain and other parts of the Western world are also confronted by similar attempts to inculcate a woke worldview in their children.
Take Oregon’s ‘Kindergarten 2021 Social Science Standards’, which were approved for classroom use in March of this year. This curriculum effectively immerses youngsters in identity politics. It suggests that children as young as three should ‘engage in respectful dialogue with classmates to define diversity, comparing and contrasting visible and invisible similarities and differences’. On what kind of planet do three-year-olds conduct ‘respectful dialogue’ over ‘visible and invisible similarities and differences’?
The point of the exercise is to make children hyper-sensitive to racial differences and encourage them to internalise an identity-based consciousness. This is why this curriculum suggests that five-years-olds should ‘develop an understanding of [their] own identity groups including, but not limited to, race, gender, family, ethnicity, culture, religion and ability’. The main objective of this curriculum is to introduce youngsters to an identitarian worldview.
When small children are exposed to topics suitable for mature adults it is clear that indoctrination rather than education is taking place. One Virginia school district shared a video aimed at seven- to eight-year-olds on its website. ‘Woke Kindergarten 60 Second Texts: Safe’ featured such nuggets as ‘I feel safe when there is no police’. The author of this nauseating video, Ki, goes by the pronouns they / them and describes ‘their’ role as ‘an abolitionist early educator… currently innovating ways to unlearn, heal, liberate and create with their pedagogy’.
Advocates of politicising the early years curriculum claim that it is never too early to intervene and insulate children from the prejudices of their family environment.
The fightback against wokeness has begun
There’s a reason why social engineers are so keen on early years intervention. They believe that indoctrination is most effective when it is directed at those who have not yet learned to think for themselves – namely, toddlers. This is why advocates of ‘decolonising the curriculum’ and critical race theory insist that unconscious bias can be detected in children before they can speak.
The media and the publishing world have piled in, too. Read Buzzfeed’s ‘16 excellent gifts for woke babies’ and you will come to understand the kind of culture woke elites are trying to impose on your kids. Buzzfeed even suggests a colouring bookthat explores ‘the subjects of transness, gender creativity, intersexuality and sexism in a positive and playful fashion’.
And so the indoctrination of babies and toddlers continues apace. All with the intention of stopping children internalising the ‘unconscious bias’ of their family environment.
In some instances, pupils are told by their teachers not to discuss the content of their classroom discussions with their parents. A class of nine- and 10-year-olds in Minnesota was instructed by teachers not to repeat the questions on their ‘equity survey’ to their parents.
What some educators describe as ‘equity / inclusion work’ is best characterised as a project designed to estrange children from the values of their parents, nation and community. This ambition is captured well in the idea of ‘decolonising the curriculum’. This is now a thoroughly mainstream idea. England’s largest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), publishedguidance this summer calling for the decolonisation of every subject and every stage of the curriculum. ‘From curriculum to routines to classroom layout’, the NEU claims, ‘our education system has been shaped by colonisation and neoliberalism’.
What’s more, the NEU self-consciously urges its members to embrace the role of culture warriors, charged with the mission of undermining the cultural values of British society. The NEU also recommends what it calls ‘activist training for teachers’. Teachers are no longer there to educate – they’re there to serve a political cause.
The decolonisation movement has no interest in what happened in the colonies, or in the workings of British imperialism. Nor is it interested in providing quality education to children. Decolonisation is a roundabout way of destroying the foundational values of British culture.
The Free Churches Group’s Anti-Racist RE guide encourages religious-education teachers to challenge supposedly outdated ideas and promote the virtues of a ‘decolonised curriculum’. Anyone reading this document would struggle to find anything that has even a remote connection with religion. It is far more concerned with intersectionality, whiteness, white privilege, unconscious bias, cultural appropriation and microaggressions.
As we have seen in the case of the NEU, curriculum engineers are often marching in lockstep with teachers’ unions and official and quasi-official bodies. In Scotland, teachers are invited to take a white-privilege test to help them participate in the decolonisation of the curriculum. And the Scottish government itself has urged teachers to identify ‘white fragility’, defined as the clumsy defensiveness of a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice, which it says ‘upholds white supremacy’.
A threat to our way of life
Parents in Virginia and elsewhere have learned that one of the main casualties of the culture wars in schools is academic learning. Advocates of decolonising the curriculum are indifferent to the quality of children’s education. Indeed, they often denounce the attempt to uphold standards as an expression of white privilege, dismissing rules of grammar or a rigorous maths education as a threat to an ‘inclusive classroom’.
Make no mistake: this indoctrination is a threat to our communities’ way of life. It estranges children from the intellectual legacy of their society. It strips education of its academic and intellectual content and ill-equips children for their adult role as democratic citizens.
For too long, those concerned with the culture wars have focused their attention on universities. But it is the school where the battle for hearts and minds is really being fought. Finally, parents have realised that unless they rise to meet the challenge posed by woke pedagogy, they risk losing their authority and influence over their children. The parents of Virginia have shown that it is possible to protect education from the powerful forces trying to politicise and, ultimately, destroy it. The fightback against woke is just getting started…”
Frank Furedi’s 100 Years of Identity Crisis: Culture War over Socialisation is published by De Gruyter.