Not written for a few weeks as you will have gathered. Was really not sure what to say after Trump's victory on top of the rest of the weirdness in 2016. However, I have been shaken from my lethargy by the appearance on our school calendar of 'British Values Day'.
We have not been told what this encompasses but it rang major alarm bells for me in the wake of Brexit. A friend who is a school governor elsewhere says it's about tolerance and decency and so on and therefore should be embedded more into the curriculum on a daily basis. She was surprised to see a whole day labelled this way. As was I.
I come, as my regular reader (not sure if there is plural here!) will know, from an Anglo Indian background on my father's side. I have done a great deal of family research and general reading about these mixed race people. Early soldiers and male settlers were actively encouraged to integrate into India by taking native wives. But the offspring of these partnerships gradually were prevented from marrying white settlers themselves and ended marrying within their own community. But they were (are) Christian, Europeanised in dress and manners and not well received by the Indian population. Mainly because the British used the Anglo Indians to prop up their rule of the sub-continent. Railways, Post Office, telegraph systems, lower civil service levels - the nuts and bolts of the administration. But socially the Anglo Indians were discriminated against by the British for their colour. So 'British Values' changed over the course of the occupation of India, to accommodate whatever best suited those trying to maintain the Empire. These chameleon tendencies are a pattern of all governments - whatever their political flavour - as they seek to control populations and advance their own agendas.
Why, for example, we are now classing basic human characteristics such as tolerance and decency as 'British Values'? Does our government believe that enforcing a nationalistic tone in schools will drown out the news which our children are bombarded with elsewhere? Of ministers refusing to help refugees. Of cuts to all the services which children see around them - from doctors surgeries and hospitals to libraries or museums. Of open racism.
'You are British, children. That is the best thing to be.' Repeat until you are convinced and ignore the evidence to the contrary.
And how does our media fit into 'British Values'? The gulf between headlines continues to grow. The spin taken on different issues varies madly. If you took your British Values from the Daily Mail, where would you be? Some of their current stuff is beginning to look horribly like the pre-First World War headlines as regards antagonising Putin and Russia.
I am all for teaching our children tolerance, respect etc. But in the current climate I am definitely not convinced that adding a 'British' aspect is helpful.