12 November 2009


I was talking to a group of teenagers on a community education programme, and they started discussing the subjects they were doing. After a while, they got around to sociology, and the sociologist who is teaching them.

“It's all about feminism, nothing but feminism,” said one of the lads, “she's a feminist, and it's indoctrination.”

I know the person concerned, and this sounded extremely unlikely. Although she is no doubt a feminist (and quite right too), I never remember her ever having mentioned feminism – and her opposition to anyone either delivering or accepting indoctrination is strong and passionate. She would always be scrupulous about presenting both her own views and those of which she disapproved with equal neutrality

“Well”, I said, “you've only been doing it for six weeks, and feminism is a very important force in the way the world has changed over the past century – especially the past forty years or so. You need to learn about the forces which shape society, and the ways in which society is viewed by those who study it. Feminism is part of both. When I was at school, it would have been less so; but now you need to see it alongside others like Marxism and...”

“Marksism?” he queried, looking puzzled, “Is that about how our work is marked?”


Jim Putnam said...

What happened to the rest of the stroy - the bit that followed earlier?

Felix said...

It seemed to me, when I came back to it, to be a loose end. Perhaps I was wrong ... here it is, for completeness:

Today I met their sociology teacher and recounted the conversation. She shook her head in despair.

“They see anything in line with what they think as legitimate ” she said. “anything which involves questioning their own attitudes as indoctrination.”

We haven't come so far as I sometimes like to think.

Matthew Revell said...

I wonder why politics wasn't more widely taught in British schools when I was at one.

I grew up in the homeland of the Durham miner, the archetype to which Labour ministers turned up until the 80s, so I grew up in a superficially patrician, firmly socialist, society. Anywhere that one political ideology is so dominant needs a wider political education in schools ... and it wouldn't hurt in areas where there is a broader range of views.

Matthew Revell said...

By "firmly socialist" I mean firmly aspiring to and approving of socialism.