Centre for Citizenship Rejects Call
Following the Birmingham schools affair Prime Minister David Cameron has called for children to be taught to “respect for British institutions”.
The Centre for Citizenship believes that some British institutions are worthy of no respect. And that to teach children to respect institutions that deny them their democratic rights is to show a lack of respect for children as well as for democracy.
The institutions that do not deserve respect include the House of Lords, the monarchy, the Church of England and the state class hierarchy.
If Cameron’s statement is put into practice it will mean that British children are taught to respect hereditary and religious privilege, rather than democratic practices and the equality of citizens.
Children would be taught that it is right for families to own a seat in parliament and for legislators to be unelected and unaccountable. They would learn that church and state should not be separate, and that people of one religious affiliation should be privileged. An absurd state-sponsored class hierarchy will be taught as superior to the democratic spirit.
The teaching of respect for such institutions would be an act of political partisanship, not of good education policy. It is best that children be helped to think for themselves, to understand that political ideas are contested, and not to believe that if it is British it must be best.