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Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Write a letter to terrorists! Children told to ‘respect’ killers in new teaching aid
A NEW teaching aid that recommends schoolchildren as young as seven “write a letter to a terrorist” to help understand their motives has been condemned as “dangerous and misguided”.
GETTY STOCK IMAGE New teaching aid that recommends schoolchildren as young as seven 'write a letter to a terrorist'
The book, Talking About Terrorism, published weeks before the Manchester Arena atrocity, describes the indiscriminate mass murder of innocent members of the public as a “type of war”.
It tells primary age children that terrorists kill people because they believe they are being treated “unfairly and not shown respect”.
It gives examples of “terrorists” whose ideas then turn out to be right: “The Suffragettes used violence and were called terrorists...” it stated.
The book, Talking About Terrorism, was published weeks before the Manchester Arena atrocity
his a crackpot idea based on the misguided notion that primary school children must engage with, and show 'respect' for, religious fanatics who are seeking to kill them
Chris McGovern - Campaign for Real Education chairman
“Today many people think of them as brave women and admire their struggle for the right to vote.”
In an activity recommended for pupils aged seven to 11, teachers are urged to “invite children to write a letter to a terrorist. If they could ask a terrorist six questions, what would they be?”
The book, published by Brilliant Publications and containing a foreword by Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC, has been slammed by critics who say it is potentially dangerous.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the letter task would confuse and potentially upset pupils.
He said: “This a crackpot idea based on the misguided notion that primary school children must engage with, and show “respect” for, religious fanatics who are seeking to kill them.
“It is part of the “British Values” agenda that is being forced on schools by Ofsted and the educational establishment.
“The primary school classroom is not the place to humanise terrorism by ‘pretend dialogue’.”
In trying to help children “understand” terrorists’ motives, the book invites sympathy for the killers, critics claim.
And by invoking the Suffragettes and Nelson Mandela, it leads children to question whether terrorism might be justifiable, they say.
McGovern said that while the book did condemn terrorism, it strayed in to dangerous territory in its attempt to help children understand the issues.
He added: “It provides plenty of ‘explanation’ for excusing it. It strongly urges teachers to ensure young children, ‘Show respect for people who are different to ourselves’.
“This admirable rallying cry can result in a call to respect the point of view of terrorists, too.”
But Alison Jamieson, one of the co-authors of the book, defended the publication and said children’s letters were not to a specific terrorist and were not intended to be sent.
She said: “I disagree that understanding terrorism is a short step away from sympathy and I challenge Mr McGovern to show any example of our book showing sympathy for terrorism.
“Especially when dealing with ideological indoctrination, it is difficult to see how terrorism can ever be defeated unless one understands the grievances that drive it and where anger and hatred come from.
“Military force, even where it is possible, is never enough.”
She went on to say that to dismiss terrorist motivations as “not worthy of attention” will not make them go away.
“We state quite clearly in the section on Al Qaeda and Islamic State that these sections are not necessarily subjects for discussion in the classroom,” the author added.
“As we clearly state in the Teacher’s Tip we are providing this information primarily for teachers. There is no suggestion that they should relate all of this to pupils.”
A NSPCC spokesman said: “Terrorism is a difficult issue for children to understand, but we know from calls to our Childline service that terror attacks can often make children feel anxious, worried and upset, so it is important that they are able to talk openly about it and understand why terrorism should not be tolerated.”