Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Right and Wrong

Justice is blind. Well blinkered at the very least, not to mention stupid, bigotted and incontinent, if one is considering the justice meted out by your super-annuated Pedant-General. You will be glad that I have avoided commenting on another incarnation of [ruffles copy of Daily Mail and says "Harumph"]
Political Correctness Gone Mad.
But even your slothful and agnostic Pedant-General, disengaged-from-the-political-process as he is, cannot but be roused into action by this load of tosh that blots the blameless escutcheon of the Letters Page in the Times today:
 
All education has a moral dimension.
Correct.
Yet a narrow focus on right and wrong is morally sterile, reducing right to what is not wrong.
Ummm... No. For example, "Helping Little old ladies across the road" is "right", assuming of course that he other side of the road is the destination sought by the little old lady. Punching people, unprovoked, in order to steal their dinner money is "wrong". Watching TV after a long hard day at work is neither. Whoever said that this was some kind of binary issue?
School rules by themselves do not make a good school.
True. It is the enforcement of school rules that helps make a good school. It is the fact that the rules ought to be respected, that it is wrong to break them and that you will have only yourself to blame if you do that makes a good school. See?
The good teacher does not go into teaching to become a policeman.
No, but that's what they end up being, "good" teacher or not, if they end up in a school that is "not good" and where there is scant regard for individual responsibility and the rule of law in general.
 
Phew. A new paragraph. I needed a break there. What does this bring?
It would be a great pity if multicultural Britain settled for a "lowest common denominator" approach to moral education.
On the contrary: it would be a huge improvement.
The Government has already saddled schools with "citizenship".
And, without wanting to morph into a frothing avatar of DK, what do you expect when the state gets involved in morality? The state should be a reflection of its citizens, not the other way round.
The late Cardinal Hume advised schools to educate into goodness. That is a far more liberating proposition, because it raises so many questions.
But it's not likely to do much good if you haven't sussed out the very basics of the "right" from the "wrong" end of the scale.
Unlike citizenship, which expresses a value-free view of the societal contribution of schools,
We've already covered this.
the search for goodness is the open road into humanity — and one from which future citizens of multicultural Britain can develop their own informed standards of what is wrong and what is right.
I give up. Who on earth could possibly write such drivel? Does this chap have any contact with the stuff that most teachers have to contend with?
PATRICK TOBIN
Principal of the Mary Erskine School and Stewart's Melville College 1989-2000
Ah. No, then. Mary Erskine's is an extremely nice, extremely expensive private school in the centre of Edinburgh. Everything that Mr Tobin writes is eminently sensible in the context of the nice, well-behaved, middle-class children of the nice, well-behaved, middle-class parents that he would have encountered in his tenure at that noble seat of learning. But if your clientelle and especially their parents need to be strong-armed into signing up to
I think you will find that these loftier aims might just be the problem not the solution.
 

3 comments:

james higham said...

Precisely, Pedant-General. Precisely. I gave a speech at a recent educational seminar about this, I wrote a post called 'the interesting logic of political correctness'as well. It gets the bile rising.

fafnir_u_fasolt_AG said...

And 'clientele' has a single 'l'....

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

James,

My goodness: we do get around don't we? I shall go and have a look at your post.

Fafnir,

You aren't perhaps related to the excellent author of the "faf blog" are you? Either way, a very hearty welcome to Infinitives Unsplit. It is always nice to have a properly educated readership. And it serves me right for dashing off a post without a liberal dash of the proof-reader's pen.

PG