By Tim Ball
Frontier Centre for Public Policy
My grandson is five years old. After his second week in school, he asked his father what he was doing about global warming.
Think about that for a moment. Does anyone believe that a five year old can even understand the controversy surrounding the science of global warming, let along question what he is being told?
Rather than teaching my grandson the knowledge he will need to succeed academically – analytical skills and open mindedness, among others – his teacher is spending time indoctrinating him with her beliefs on global warming.
I am outraged. As Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, said, “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” and classrooms today are definitely practicing what he preached.
For example, Ken Corley, a teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, recently attempted to recruit students to lobby for climate change. His effort, called the Manitoba Power Shift Team, part of the Manitoba Environmental Youth Network, plans to hold seminars ending in a rally on Parliament Hill, at which they will “deliver our message of change to our elected officials and push the federal government to take bold steps in tackling climate change.”
I certainly commend students who become involved in the political process but, in this case, their cause is totally politically biased. Are these recruits to Mr. Corley’s cause being given all sides of the controversy?
These types of activities, which should not be promoted in the classroom, do underscore the biases of some groups and individuals who have direct access to our children, their classrooms and the curriculum. It was Clarence Day, an early 20th century author, who warned that “Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism are the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.”
Imagine what the reaction would be if Mr. Corley was urging students to promote business and free enterprise? The justifiable outrage would be thunderous.
Proselytizing, that is attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another, has no place in our children’s classrooms. We must be constantly vigilant to ensure that all information our children receive is balanced and delivered with an open mind. There is no room in our classrooms for indoctrination.
Appropriately, the public school system removed the influence of organized religion and politics from the classroom. But was that only so they could be replaced by the new religion and politics of environmentalism?
Environmentalism is invariably taught in social studies, yet it is a scientific subject. Most people teaching the subject have little to no knowledge or understanding of the science involved.
A few years back, a United Kingdom court, citing nine serious errors, ruled that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was politically-biased. It ordered the government to provide information to teachers to warn students if the movie was used as a teaching tool. Would you be surprised to learn that it wasn’t a teacher who had serious misgivings about the content of the movie, but a parent whose son reported what was happening in the classroom? The fact that the government had to inform teachers of the errors confirms their lack of knowledge.
Can the students participate in the Manitoba Power Shift Team? Of course: it is important to encourage political participation. Can teachers participate outside of school hours? Of course: we are all entitled to our personal activities and political views. But it is not all right for teachers to use of children’s classrooms or the school system to promote their biases and personal political views. As educator A.B.Alcott said, “The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.” We need to be vigilant of those who don’t.
Tim Ball is a retired University of Winnipeg climatology professor who now lives in Victoria BC and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, http://www.fcpp.org