School head warns of 'righteous generation' of children

School head warns of ‘righteous generation’ of children ‘entrenched in culture of outrage’ that is leaving teachers ‘walking on eggshells’ and ‘terrified to say wrong word’ in class

  • Nicholas Hewlett came out as gay to students at St Dunstan’s College, London
  • Warned that teachers were becoming worried of pupil backlash in classroom
  • Some children are looking for staff to ‘trip up’ or make ‘micro-aggressions’ 
  • Suggested ‘healthy debate’ have become ‘anonymised mudslinging match’ in online lecture

A headmaster has warned that teachers are becoming ‘incredibly anxious’ of being pounced on by pupils over micro-aggressions.

Nicholas Hewlett, head of St Dunstan’s College private school in southeast London, said staff were worried by a ‘righteous generation’ of children who were looking for their teachers to ‘trip up’ on even ‘small, persistent slights’.

Mr Hewlett made headlines earlier this year when he announced he was ‘happily gay and in a same-sex relationship’ during a school assembly.

The 41-year-old today warned that the younger generation were becoming ‘entrenched in a culture of outrage’.

Nicholas Hewlett, head of St Dunstan’s College private school in southeast London, said staff were worried by a ‘righteous generation’ of children who were looking for their teachers to ‘trip up’ on even ‘small, persistent slights’

Speaking to the Sunday Times he said: ‘We cannot have in schools everyone walking on eggshells terrified of using the wrong word…

‘What I am seeing starting to emerge as part of the huge national backlash against wokeness… is young people entrenched in a culture of outrage.

‘We have young people coming through the system who because of hateful rhetoric have decided they are going to dig into their positions of outrage.’

The school leader also recently appeared in a webinar he titled ‘Woke Independent Schools – Why are we so afraid?’ that looked out how debate over cultural issues had changed between the 1980s and today.

He described how some children were growing up ‘pre-determined to be outraged’ and that ‘healthy debate’ had been replaced by ‘an anonymised mudslinging match of increasingly entrenched positions of outrage’.

The Batley Grammar School teacher sparked fury by allegedly showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a RE lesson. Pictured: Protesters outside the school in March 

‘(Say) we demand a greater diversity to the curriculum, but then some teachers become scared of how to teach racially diverse material, worried of putting a foot wrong, worried of being accused of microaggressions or being or being homophobic or transphobic or misogynistic,’ he added.

‘I believe firmly education must step up we must start having meaningful dialogue with the young about issues that matter to them.’

Mr Hewlett added that he had set up working group for pupils and teachers to look at changes for what was taught in the curriculum and the way it was taught.

Last week Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman said schools are facing a new ‘confrontational brand of activism’, and insisted that it was ‘unacceptable’ that some pupils and teachers are suffering abuse and violence ‘simply for being who they are’ amid a rise in activism both inside and outside schools.

She told the Festival of Education that children should not be ‘all but forced to support a fellow student’s campaign, no matter how compellingly presented, nor feel that they will be ostracised if they do not’.

An unpublished survey by Flair, a company that has conducted race audits of staff, including non-teachers, at more than 30 private schools, suggests two per cent are black.

Last week Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman said schools are facing a new ‘confrontational brand of activism’, and insisted that it was ‘unacceptable’ that some pupils and teachers are suffering abuse and violence ‘simply for being who they are’ 

Flair also analysed dozens of open letters published by alumnae of private schools who complained last year about racist abuse they had endured in schools and a lack of black role models among teachers.

‘Microaggressions’ previously reported included someone saying during a lesson that ‘slavery was bad but the Holocaust was worse’.

Her comments come after protests were held outside Batley Grammar School in March after a teacher showed Year 9 pupils a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed during a Religious Studies (RS) lesson.

In 2019, some primary schools in Birmingham faced protests at the school gates from parents who opposed allowing children to be taught about the existence of LGBT+ relationships.

A motion passed at the National Education Union’s (NEU) conference in April called for support for staff and pupils who face protests against teaching age-appropriate Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). 

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