In recent weeks my colleague Ben Scallan has been doing a series of reports on the things that are now being taught to children in Irish schools in the name of nice-sounding ideas like equality, anti-racism, combatting homophobia, and so on. All of these reports have a few things in common.
First, the material being taught often goes far beyond what one might expect from material designed to combat homophobia, or racism, or inequality. Instead of being taught that everybody is equal and worthy of respect, for example, small children are often being taught instead that their gender is an option, or that they are part of a structure of racial inequality, or that they are part of the patriarchy, and oppressors by their very nature. Much of this material seems to systematically divide people into two groups: Oppressors, and victims.
The second thing that Ben’s reports have in common is that almost all of this material originates outside the official education system. It comes from groups like “Yellow Flag”. I encourage you to read Ben’s report yesterday for a flavour of what I am talking about.
The basic problem here is not hard to understand.
Over the last decade or so, Fine Gael has been a constant in Government. And over that decade, Fine Gael has had one over-riding policy: To surrender, on every social issue, entirely to the demands of the most radical elements of the left. This strategy has primarily been political, based on a sense that young people are first, and foremost, social liberals, and therefore that by giving them everything that they want on that front, they will vote for Fine Gael. It has also been in part due to inertia: The civil service is full of young, radical, liberal graduates, and it is very capable of setting policy by itself when Government Ministers lack their own ideas.
Politically, this has not worked out, because Fine Gael appears to have forgotten two things: First, that young people also want jobs and houses. Second, that young people who identify as radical social liberals first will almost always vote for parties of the left regardless.
Part of that surrender, though, has been on education.
The country now has innumerable NGOs and groups and programs deeply involved in the education system. These range from Yellow Flag, to TENI, to various environmental NGOs. All of them have been given almost unfettered access to children for the express purpose of indoctrinating children from a young age in the tenets of modern progressivism. Previously, in my generation, you had to wait for third level to experience that.
In recent weeks, we have learned for example that “porn literacy” will now be on the curriculum for adolescents. Children are now taught in school as a matter of fact that the Green Party’s views on the environment are not in fact political views at all, but indisputable fact, and that their proposed solutions are not merely proposals that can be debated, but imperatives that children have a duty to pressure Government into adopting. We learned from Ben yesterday that Yellow Flag is pushing out material to schools that encourages teachers to ask children about whether policing is even really just, or necessary.
None of this is education. It is indoctrination. And it is not even a secret programme of indoctrination – it is the explicit aim of those who have sought the power to indoctrinate.
The good news here is, of course, that in due course all of this will backfire. No establishment survives the oppressive culture of ideological conformity that it seeks to create. After all, those of us who did sit through Catholic Sex Education in the 1990s did not produce a generation of nuns and monks. In many cases, once you go into schools, you become the establishment that young people instinctively rebel against. In time, this whole agenda will fail, and fall apart.
But in the meantime, politicians should be held to account for letting it happen. The single biggest story in Ireland over the past decade has been the abject surrender by the Government of the power to govern to state funded pressure groups, who now have unfettered access to the curriculum. In other countries, groups like BeLongTo and TENI and Friends of the Earth are external lobby groups – in Ireland, they are an integral part of the policymaking establishment. Getting them out will take years. Fine Gael, in particular, should never be forgiven for the way they have allowed this situation to arise.