Article on The Question Of Teaching Respectful Citizenship In Schools (In The Face Of Objections, Such As Religious Ones)

This article examines the question of schools teaching students to be respectful citizens with a view to universal human rights.

From the article: “Teaching tolerance in schools cannot avoid controversy”

“The children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three (2005) tells the true story of two male penguins who raise a chick together at a New York zoo. Initially pulped in Singapore and then removed to the adult section of the country’s libraries, and the cause of protests in seven US states, this book by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell has been controversial. State schools in Birmingham, England, read the book with four- to six-year-olds as part of their ‘No Outsiders’ programme, leading to lengthy protests during 2019. The (predominantly, but not exclusively, Muslim) protestors bore slogans such as ‘My Child, My Right’ and ‘Say No to Undermining Parental Rights and Authority’. In the words of one Birmingham parent, Fatima Shah, who first raised the issue with her daughter’s school: ‘We don’t send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English.’

Teaching programmes such as ‘No Outsiders’ are often justified as part of a wider drive to teach children the value of tolerance. In pluralist societies such as the United Kingdom – where there exist many different opinions on what is right and true – how should ‘tolerance’ as an aim of education be understood, and what does it imply in practice for what goes on in the classroom?”

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