Teach your children well

I was asking if Brendan O’Neill and his clone-allies at the “Institute for Ideas” have become so enamored of their own contrarianism that they’re now actually promoting bullying…or at least I was asking if O’Neill has, and I at least thought about mentioning his clone-allies too. Anyway the answer is yes, they have. Here’s Claire Fox – one of the ally-clones – doing just that a few weeks ago:

Schools should abandon their anti-bullying programmes because they make children more “thin-skinned” and less resilient, according to the head of a thinktank.

Speaking in a debate on “character education” at the London Festival of Education today, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, said schools should focus on teaching core academic subjects, rather than “grit”.

“I think young people need to be more self-critical and less self aware,” she said.”They should stop worrying about themselves.

“If you want to encourage grit in schools get rid of anti-bullying programmes. We are taking the grit out of kids and we could do with backing off.

“We have a generation of cotton-wool kids afraid to take risks.”

What a stupid, callous, reckless, irresponsible, brutal thing to say. “Get rid of anti-bullying programmes” – for children. Because bullying is so fabulously good for children, as any fule kno.

udith Suissa, a reader in philosophy of education at the Institute of Education, said to suggest abandonig anti-bullying programmes was “ridiculous”.

Earlier in the debate, she questioned why schools focus on building “grit and resilience” in pupils.

“To me, the emphasis on grit and resilience is sending the message to teachers that their main role as educators is not to challenge society but to prepare children to compete in this sytem; not to get children to think about what’s wrong with society but to give children grit and resilience to cope with poverty. It’s deeply troubling.”

Really. Never mind teaching children how to put up with bullying; get rid of bullying. Don’t teach people how to accept bullying, teach them that bullying is unacceptable. Don’t teach underlings how to keep quiet when the boss punches them in the face; fire the boss who punches underlings in the face. As Bertrand Russell’s grandmama liked to quote, do not follow a multitude to do evil.

In December, education secretary Nicky Morgan said England was to become a “global leader” in teaching character, resilience and grit to students.

Oh dear god. How very Tory.


  1. says

    Excellent article very well argued. The IOI is full of crazy people, even when they were left wingers they had some weird ideas now they are just the most exstream kind of right wing looney.
    An Anti bullying policy should be a legal rerquirement for ALL schools not just LEA schools, failure to stamp out bullying should be grounds not merely for sackings but for procecutions. Bullying should be treated as a crime as it involves violence, intimadation, extortion verbal assault and in some cases hate crimes. Children should be taught from the earliest age that they must neither bully or put up with being a victim. Anyone who holds the sort of views being peddled by the IOI is not fit to be around children as unfit in fact as convicted peodphiles

  2. Lady Mondegreen says

    You know how you make children more thin-skinned and less resilient? You bully them.

    “I think young people need to be more self-critical and less self aware,” she said.”They should stop worrying about themselves.”

    Yes, that would be good. But bullying achieves the opposite of that. Bullied people are hypervigilent, because of the need to protect themselves. Bullied people can’t forget themselves, because they are constantly being made the center of humiliating attention, by bullies. Bullied people haven’t got the luxury of healthy self-criticism; they’re too busy trying to remember that they might after all be worthwhile human beings with a right to exist.

  3. karmacat says

    Bullying doesn’t make anyone resilient. People are resilient DESPITE bullying. Bullying just leads to anger and a sense of helplessness and worthlessness. I’m guessing the people who are advocating doing nothing have never been bullied.

  4. Anne Fenwick says

    I homeschooled my daughter through the primary years partly as a result of this ‘she needs to toughen up’ attitude.

    Sink or swim? Call me an over-protective mother, but I’m not prepared to let those be my child’s only options, especially when I can see it’s going to be ‘sink’.

    Notwithstanding the disapproval sometimes encounters on atheist sites, I’m convinced that the first and most important lesson I taught her was ‘you don’t have to put up with this.’ She’s gone from a child who systematically hid behind or beneath objects to a confident, though quiet teenager, btw.

  5. Dunc says

    You know how you make children more thin-skinned and less resilient? You bully them.

    Maybe they’re hoping for positive outcomes for the bullies, not the bullied? Can’t make a an omelette without breaking some eggs, and if you’ve got to sacrifice a few kids to let everyone else have some group-bonding fun, well, that’s just how life is, right?

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