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In Favour of Schools with Philosophical and Political Ideology

In Favour of Schools with Philosophical and Political Ideology published on 1 Comment on In Favour of Schools with Philosophical and Political Ideology

[This post is satire, my views on the subject are that school should be a place in which ideologies are scrutinized and challenged, and where young people can form their own worldview having been introduced to many different ideas without bias.]

Many groups and associations of people, notably the skeptic community, are pressuring very publicly against the association of any form of ideology with schooling. I take the opposite viewpoint and want to argue for what I call ‘political-schools’ which, not to be confused with a school which teaches politics, hold given political or philosophical ideologies which they infuse throughout their pastoral and educational structure. Parliament should adopt this policy and introduce schools of this type, strengthening and continuing the long-held ideologies of the United Kingdom and giving parents the opportunity to teach their politics to their children.

I am a Marxist and a parent, I wish that my and other Marxist children were able to go to a school infused with the teachings and culture of Marxism – this and other ideologies, especially forms of Socialism and Communism, have a great deal to offer young people as a method of structuring their thoughts and as a framework through which to see the world and their lives. It saddens me that my children will not benefit from the Marxist emphasis which such a school would offer, such as attention to the canonical  writings of Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Stalin, Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg. I wish that my children could go to a school where a unifying ethos, a centred system of beliefs which all students and teachers share, could strengthen the school culture, creating a structure in which high achievement can flourish. A unified ideology allows people, especially young people, the comfort of being part of a group of like-minded people who share a similar outlook, this conformity would help schools to move with a unified direction, rather than with chaotic and clashing ethoses. This is not to say that non-Marxist students, such as Liberal or Anarchist pupils, would be excluded. Rather, students would be expected to hold general Marxist ideas such as those surrounding contradiction and exploitation, and to be generally class-conscious and to believe in the equality of human beings.

I consider that it is my right as a parent to educate my children in my own ideology, currently this right is being infringed due to the lack of provision for the political-schools. Opponents of schools with a certain ideology often front their arguments with the misplaced idea that children have the right to be free from the direct instruction in specific moral viewpoints. The opposite is the case; political schools can be a place where children can receive the best loving care in support of their well-being, the provision of which is the responsibility of their parents.

A Marxist school would provide a solid structure to help children to develop as people through political practices, activities and traditions. Every classroom would display the hammer and sickle symbol, both as a reminder of the Marxist ideals as well as of the workers’ struggle against the tyranny of capitalism – Marxist schools would also be encouraged to include the hammer and sickle in their coat-of arms, to be displayed on the school uniform. Pupils would be discouraged from making any visible display of wealth so as to encourage equality. Such a school would also initiate a policy of referring to others as ‘Comrade’ so as to avoid discrimination through gender and any other factors.

Such a school would also feature the daily recitation of a single fundamental affirmation of Marxist ideology, I propose that a good candidate is the following adaptation from the Draft Communist Confession of Faith in the Communist Manifesto (the teacher would ask the questions and the pupils would be expected to learn the answers by rote):–

Question: Are you a Marxist?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What is the aim of the Communists?

Answer: To organise society in such a way that every member of it can develop
and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby
infringing the basic conditions of this society.

Question: How do you wish to achieve this aim?

Answer: By the elimination of private property and its replacement by community
of property.

Question: How do you think the transition from the present situation to community of property is to be effected?

Answer: The first, fundamental condition for the introduction of community of
property is the political liberation of the proletariat through a democratic
constitution.

Question: What will be your first measure once you have established democracy?

Answer: Guaranteeing the subsistence of the proletariat.

Question: How will you do this?

Answer: I. By limiting private property in such a way that it gradually prepares
the way for its transformation into social property, e. g., by progressive taxation,
limitation of the right of inheritance in favour of the state, etc., etc.

II. By employing workers in national workshops and factories and on national
estates.

III. By educating all children at the expense of the state.

This should serve to remind the children of what they believe, while providing a regular structure for their days at school. I anticipate that many readers may be surprised that Marxists are so committed to democracy – in fact, many Marxist ideals are concurrent with modern British ones, and by creating and supporting Marxist schools the government would be genuinely forwarding the current tradition of government. The pupils would participate in regular lessons on Marxist theory, such as on the Marxist historical projection, on the alienation of the workers from the means of production, on the necessity of the abolition of private property and the ultimate need for a people’s revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The fact that this ideology would take up the sole or main portion of the pupils moral and ethical education may cause people to disagree with my proposal, with some arguing that many of these theories are inaccurate, have been disproved or that young people should be allowed to find their own sense of ethics. However, it is my right to bring up my children according to my own ideology – this right is currently being restricted. Marxist theory and ethics are a good way to nurture strong values in our children such as a devotion to equality and happiness. Pupils would also be taught the standard subjects through a Marxist viewpoint, such as the Marxist conception of history, Marxist literary criticism and the aesthetic ideals of Socialist Realism with respect to art. Pupils would also sing rousing Marxist songs together such as The Red Flag and Bread and Roses. The pupils’ social studies curriculum would mean a Marxist approach to sexual and personal matters too, including the ideas of Marxist Feminists, Engels’ ideas on the family as a construct of the capitalist means of production and how sexual relationships can be understood with reference to the division of labour. Finally, the pupils would benefit from a weekly lecture on Marxist theory and ideology together as a school, delivered either by a teacher or from an certified Marxist philosopher, while celebrating Marxist holidays such as the workers’ events on Mayday and in remembering the October Revolution.

The reader, I’m sure, can imagine how this template could be applied in a similar way for political-schools as they cater to different ideologies. Christian Communist children would be able to see the Cross and Sickle symbol in classrooms, Nationalist children would learn and sing songs praising the strength of the nation, Postmodern children could approach sex and relationships within the context of deconstruction, Anarcho-syndicalist pupils would be taught the economics of local political organisation. Some people may argue that some philosophies are not themselves compatible with education, yet I have a close friend who is a Nihilist, his Nihilist children are home-schooled in his ideology and I am convinced that even a philosophy as divergent as this is capable of providing a balanced and productive education.

Another aspect of the need for political-schools is that so many of these ideologies make up a fundamental part of British culture, it is important to maintain these traditions so that they are not lost in time. Given my own ideology as an example once more, it would be impoverishing for Britain to forget the legacy which Marx gave the nation. Phrases like: ‘Religion is the opium of the people.’ attest the necessity of inculcating ideology in our children. In some respects, one cannot know Britain unless one knows Marx.

My ideal political-school, also, would be allowed to select a certain proportion of its pupils according to their ideology, thereby allowing it to establish the political character of its ideology among the pupils. Of course, schools should be allowed to hire all teachers according to their ideology. In that schools would be unable to restrict entry for all their places, the community would include, for example, a variety of non-Marxist pupils, maintaining diversity though within a generally Marxist outlook. Of course, any independent political-school would be able to select for all its pupils. Some people may argue that it is unfair to select for the political ideology of a child, however, without doing so it would be impossible to establish the political ethos of a school and the related benefits and therefore to maintain the right of a parent to determine the ideology of their children. Some claim, also, that separating young people in this way would create division and possibly friction between the different ideologies – however, I move that it would create a lively and diverse environment. I personally know a Romantic Nationalist family and an Illegalist family who both home-school their children in their respective ideologies, though their Romantic Nationalist and Illegalist children play together very cordially when their lessons finish. In addition, some may identify that given philosophies may be antagonistic to certain groups or other philosophies, which is necessarily expounded in a political-school’s teaching. However, following Marx’s example in his friendship with Engels (the wealthy son of an industrialist) it is possible to have long and productive relationships with people whom one knows to be part of an immoral class, the extirpation of which is necessitated by history. The same example could be followed for Keynsian children within Anarcho-capitalist schools, and for Paleoconservative children within Anarco-queer schools. As such the separation of children into groups according to their worldviews doesn’t infer division outside school, while it can coexist with fairness and cordiality within schools.

Political-schools represent a fundamental right of all parents – to pass their ideologies onto their children, while offering the government and the independent education sector a means to improve the quality of education through strong unified ideologies. I anticipate that many will seek to present political-schools as potentially divisive and discriminatory. This doesn’t need to be the case, in reality these schools could allow the continuation of proud and long-held beliefs alongside the strengthening of the moral standard of the United Kingdom; providing children with the strength and confidence which results from knowing that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

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