An open letter to Daily Mail and the residents of Guernsey
Having read the article ‘Dear Mum, I am going to be a Muslim’ I felt I had no option but to respond.
To recap: 12 and 13-year-old pupils were given a homework assignment for the subject of Religious Education and asked to write a letter to their mums and dads explaining why they were converting to Islam.
Let us all be clear here. This was merely a homework assignment. There was no mass conversion ceremony at this school. No pupil was asked to actually convert. The purpose of this assignment was to explore the reasons why some people believe in a religion and the way they practice that said religion. It was a task to promote empathy and understanding, and yes, as an English and History teacher, I have used it many times myself many times in the past.
When I asked my pupils to write about being a soldier in the first World War or about their reactions after the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, did I really worry about them going off and either fighting in the trenches or developing radiation poisoning and cancers and having malformed children for generations to come? No. I did not. Because our children are not that naïve and stupid to be influenced by a single piece of homework.
What they are influenced is the massive over reaction of their parents and newspapers like the Daily Mail, a mainstream media outlet that has shown itself to be more right wing than Fox News itself. Some of the comments under the article actually felt that they were either written by someone who attended the Donald Trump’s personal scriptwriter’s class or by Sarah Palin’s fan club. Here are just a few
“Time for this indoctrination to be stopped!” and “Sick of this Muslim stuff being rammed down our throats”. Yes, like a piece of homework is really going to lead to your children being converted by a Pied Piper-esque teacher!
If I was going to be marking this homework, the kind of letters I would be happy to read would be along the lines of “watched Hollyoaks, ate fish and chips and then took mick out of jihadi-wannabe idiots who sod off to Syria to fight for ISIS when they can’t even wash their bums without their mum’s help on twitter and Instagram” because THAT’S the reality of being a Muslim teenager in the UK today. Having to fight against those who think that just because you’re Muslim you want to see people in orange boiler suits, and against those who think that because you’re British and Westernised, you want to see people in miniskirts and drinking shots.
If this level of hysteria carries on, pretty soon teachers will be too scared to set any homework and pupils will learn instead how to be prisoners of bigoted and ill formed views.
So let’s stop the scaremongering, get a grip and if any Guernsey parent or Daily Mail writer wants lessons on community cohesion, give me a call!
PS. As a leaving thought, I do remember setting a homework task asking one Year 11 group to write to the then Education Secretary Michael Gove 😉