education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
The recent report on ‘shared education’ was more of a tirade against academic selection. I blogged about that a few days ago.
However, I wanted to address the point of ‘shared education’ – a concept that fits neatly into the ‘shared future’ nonsense that’s peddled by Alliance Party do-gooders.
‘Shared future’ like ‘shared education’ is all about institutionalising tribalism. It’s about constant referencing of the Prod/Nat “cultures” and “embracing” our shared “values”. No doubt we’d all have to go on some type of shared future “journey” where enforced understanding of “perspectives” would be at the heart of the nonsense.
When I was holding on the phone to do my bit on the Nolan Show yesterday there was a lot of discussion about mutual understanding around the proposed “Conflict Resolution Centre” – what surely must be one of the most inflated examples of public spending poppycock ever seen in Western Europe. Most of us don’t need any kind of conflict resolution monument because we were never involved in conflict in the first place. Respect is not something taught by conflict resolution centres. It should be taught by parents.
Shared future and shared education are cut from this conflict resolution block. They represent a kind of politically correct dystopia where we’re caught in a never-ending tribal-speak and where, try as we might, we’re never allowed to escape the navel-gazing, pathetic circular argument that is Northern Ireland.
Shared education requires our children to recognise ‘the other side’ when many of them didn’t know there was another side.
My own daughter was asked in some type of focus group discussion – related to the shared education consultation – what she thought about sharing resources with other schools from the other tradition. She wasn’t even sure what the question meant. She attends a school that isn’t integrated but draws students from right across Northern Ireland and beyond (from parents of several religions and those of none). Few of her friends have any religious faith. The focus of her school is on academic excellence. To ask her questions about sharing resources with another tradition is weirdly counter-intuitive to someone who is supremely intelligent. The question barely deserved an answer. But she answered because she is kind and polite.
That’s the rub. We’re blighted by the shared future/education nonsense that’s peddled by people who just aren’t very bright – who fail to see that people can see beyond the trivia of Northern Ireland’s two-tribe-machine. This society is normalising. It’s more accepting, more tolerant, less incendiary than it ever was. The Internet has made it more included in a global culture that moderates extremes and creates debate. The Internet has made this place less insular in a way that no other local cultural development could ever have hoped.
Our children and our adults are leaving behind the nonsense of the past – despite the shared future nonsense-mongers that follow us around and sap our public finances.
But it’s time to leave well alone. Leave our schools alone. Leave our children alone. Leave our people to just get on and move on. Because they’ll do it without any need for money, community workers or shared future initiatives. Although we could help things along by kicking the clerics out of all of our schools.