Some people argue this is all part of the feminisation of schooling. A reduction in the number of male teachers, as a proportion of the overall teaching population, has led to a greater emphasis on emotions and feelings in the classroom. I think this analysis is patronising, rude to women, and intellectually limited.
What we do know is that over the past few decades, there has been a gradual voiding of knowledge from our schools. Academic education has been systematically attacked, and while proper schooling — in the traditional sense of passing bodies of knowledge down the generations — has been preserved for the rich, what the poor have been given instead of schooling is skilling. The rise of vocational education and the rise of emotional literacy in the classroom are both a consequence of the flight from academic education.
But there is something more fundamental going on too, which Professor Frank Furedi, pictured, described in Paranoid Parenting more than a decade ago. We are cultivating vulnerability in the classroom, just like we’ve long cultivated it in the playground. “The teaching profession is being reformed as a therapeutic profession,” Dr Hayes, a close associate of Furedi’s, writes, “often prioritising the delivery of therapy over education to ‘vulnerable’ children and young people.”
The emotional policing of school children, including various bans on best friends, is designed to protect them from each other. Its main effect may ultimately be to stop them from protecting themselves.
March 22, 2012
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