I have been impressed with the writings of Kelvin Smythe and, with his permission, I have selected some of his thoughts to share. He is calling for moral courage to be shown by principals and teachers in the face of increasing authoritarianism - of a state imposed regime of education that has little to do with what most teachers hold dear to them.
Teachers , increasingly, now live in surveillance culture where compliance is becoming a way of life.
There are courageous schools who stand against such impositions while others show a growing corrosion of character and fall into compliance mode -who go along to get a long. And, worse still, there are a few who see current doctrinal directions as as worthwhile!
Sophie Scholl, who has had a German film made of her short life (1921-1943), was brought to my attention by Clive James in his monumental book of essays, Cultural Amnesia.
Hans, her brother, did his best to keep his sister out of the White Rose resistance group, but she insisted. They managed to distribute a few handbills before, inevitably, they were captured. Hans and Sophie, from a well-educated German family had glittering Nazi futures, were a few of the very few Germans to protest the treatment of the Jews. Throughout her interrogation, the Gestapo offered her a choice of freedom if she recanted, a choice not extended to her brother. Plans by the Munich party office to publicly hang them were scrapped for fear of the resultant publicity. She walked bravely to guillotine, glanced up at the steel, said not a word, put her head down and was gone.
She had borne witness to goodness against evil, and in doing that provided a point of idealism for her country to begin regeneration.
‘The real damage is done,’ she had said, ‘by those millions who want to survive. The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own weaknesses. Those who don’t like to make waves – or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature.’
In some ways, these people she speaks of are, to some extent, all of us, but there are still some who will rise to her challenge.
But what of those people who go beyond acquiescence to active participation and become the willing executioners of our ideals? History is replete with such people, and perhaps it is wrong of me, but for them I feel a sharpening bitterness'.
In another posting Kelvin continues:
I have a tremendous feeling of urgency about all this.