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"Army Style Free School, that'll teach them"

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by 576, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. 576

    576 Established commenter

    This is an 'RE' forum.
    That blog has nothing to do with RE.

  2. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter


    I disagree quite strongly to the idea that this blog has nothing to do with RE. RE is about life and right and wrong. This blog is exploring some very important issues including racism, Islamaphobia and whether it is right or wrong to give ex-soldiers preference in becoming teachers - and the future education of all our children.

    I am summarising the blog here for any who may not have time to read it in full. Then you can decide for yourselves whether or not you consider it to have anything to do with RE or not.

    The blog reports that 'the first ?army-style? Free School is due to open in Greater Manchester, staffed entirely by ex-British soldiers. According to the Huffington Post ?The Phoenix School? will take a no non-sense attitude to education promoting a child friendly not ?child centred? approach to education. ....

    The Troops to Teachers initiative is one of the current government?s attempts to fix ?broken Britain? and serve up some quality morals in the process. The driving force behind the school, Captain AK Burki, said ?We plan to revolutionise the way children are taught,? he says.... ?

    I found myself working in a school in the North East of England that was running a Cadet Force programme for its ?challenging students?. The school cohort had over twenty five nationalities, various languages etc. During a staff inset day, I was sat eating my lunch with two colleagues in the staff room where various groups of people were mingling. My two colleagues, one whom is mixed race (British Indian) and the other, White British, were talking about a recent Dispatches documentary about child labour in India. I listened reverently. Out of no-where, the Cadet Force leader, ex-soldier and uniform wearer, butted into the conversation and said in a serious tone ?They would all be eating themselves anyway if it wasn?t for us.?

    My two colleagues simultaneously said ?Pardon??

    And 'Captain Mainwaring; then said ?They would all be eating themselves anyway if it wasn?t for us? the bunch of cannibals....?

    Talk about killing the conversation. (the author of the blog made a complaint and this teacher did apologise ...

    but then went back to teaching his army programme with his multi-cultural students. How much did he let his own personal views affect his treatment of his students? If this person couldn?t contain his views with his colleagues, what was he saying to his students?

    Now obviously I?m not saying that all ex-soldiers are racist pigs or ranging colonialists dying for the days of the Empire but I think it is worth bearing in mind the bigger picture.

    Fact: the UK invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in 2000s. I?m not discussing the legalities of these wars but the fact is, we did invade these two countries. Since these invasions, the treatment of Muslims across Europe has nose-dived and Islamaphobia is commonly accepted. I?ve heard ignorant comments about Muslims, Islam and the Middle East at dinner parties and in staff rooms. It is the accepted norm for many....

    I work with teachers from Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. I?ve had a lot of political conversations and most my colleagues have a very balanced view of history, religion and politics in the western world and in the Middle East. I have also experienced the firsthand mis-treatment of Palestinians, who have not been allowed back into their country, have had family members withheld in their country, passports removed, food rations burned and generally been treated as people without any human rights or country at all.

    So if the government is allowing a military free school, what are they doing to ensure these ex-soldiers are projecting a balanced view of the world, the Middle East and the wars that we have initiated?

    I have a problem with the British Army?s recruitment campaign. A friend of mine visited Catterick Garrison with her students who were interested in the ?lifestyle? advertised on T.V. It was never once mentioned that in the army, you are most probably going to war, there?s a chance you will have to die, and there?s also a chance you will have to kill someone. This was never mentioned to the young people. They heard about the ?travel? and the wonderful team games you play to get to know each other, but they never once mentioned death. If this is their projection of the army, what are they projecting about everything else?

    My concern is that a free school can choose its own curriculum, staff its own school and educate in anyway it chooses within the law. In the UAE, all of the ?free schools? (villa schools in the UAE) are being closed down because they have led to fundamentalism, lowering of standards, lowering the value of the profession and rogue school owners projecting their politics on the students. Sound familiar?.....

    By allowing an army style free school, staffed by ex-servicemen, who could have served in the two wars mentioned above, are we saying that we are less concerned about our children?s well-being and understanding of the world and we are more concerned about ?keeping our children in check??

    These are the other alarming things that are screaming at me when I think of this concept:
    What evidence is there to say that an ex-serviceman is better at managing classroom behaviour within the law than a qualified teacher?

    What qualifications do these people have in relation to education?

    What do they understand about the nature of human behavior and the brain?

    What is their view of international events that the UK is involved in?

    How will their curriculum reflect the diversity of the UK and the world?

    What will the representation of Islam be in the school?

    How will they tackle a tricky subject like religious fundamentalism?

    I?m going to leave you with this: on the TDA website it states ?The Coalition Government believes that Armed Service leavers can bring great benefit to schools and can have a positive effect on teaching and learning. Under the Troops to Teachers programme it is likely that there will be opportunities for both non-graduate and graduate Armed Service leavers to enter teaching, work in schools or undertake leadership opportunities.?

    It also notes that there will be a ?special? course developed so that former troops can bypass training and enter the profession. ...

    Some will be great for society but a great many will result in a complete polarization of society whilst lowering the teaching profession, completely de-valuing learning and developing young people not fit for an international, global community.
  3. oggs26

    oggs26 New commenter

    Very interesting points x

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