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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Newman and Logan on Propaganda in Schools

Former ACT Muriel Newman is sick of propaganda in schools. My good friend Bruce Logan is too.


From NZ Centre for Political Debate

Schools around New Zealand that are using Al Gore’s controversial film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ to promote the Government’s climate change agenda should be warned that a High Court ruling in Britain has just found that the film is unfit for schools.

Last Tuesday, a British High Court Judge ruled that school children need protecting from political propaganda like Al Gore’s creative film making. The Court action was taken by Stewart Dimmock, a lorry driver and school governor from Kent who argued that his 11 and 14 year old sons should not be subjected to political propaganda and ‘brainwashing’ in the classroom: “I wish my children to have the best education possible, free from bias and political spin, and Mr Gore's film falls far short of the standard required”, he said.

Mr Dimmock was responding to the Labour Government’s decision to send copies of Al Gore’s film to more than 3,800 schools in England. The film was part of a Climate Change Resource Pack aimed at children aged 11 to 14 years.

During the three-day hearing the Court heard that Al Gore’s film contained serious scientific inaccuracies, that it was ‘politically partisan’, and that it contained ‘sentimental mush’. The Government was accused of backing the film as a way of ‘brainwashing’ pupils on global warming.

As part of the evidence, it was pointed out that Al Gore himself has gone on record saying that it was appropriate to over-represent the facts on global warming in his film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in order to get the message across: “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is”.

While Mr Justice Baron will deliver his ruling in the case later this week, he has already stated that the film promotes “partisan political views” and that schools will need to issue a warning to the students before they show it. He has determined that the Government must amend the Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that the film is a political work that promotes only one side of the argument, and he has also decided that the eleven serious inaccuracies in the film that have been identified by the Court, must be pointed out to the children.

The eleven inaccuracies the High Court identified in the movie are:

1.The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

2.The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

3.The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.

4.The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.

5.The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

6.The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.

7.The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

8.The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.

9.The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.

10.The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

11.The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government was unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

This case against the British Government has only been possible because of amendments to the British Education Act which prohibit political indoctrination by banning the teaching of partisan political views and by requiring that political issues are presented in a balanced manner.

Section 406 of the Education Act 1996 states that local education authorities, school governing bodies and head teachers "shall forbid… the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school". And if political issues are brought to the attention of school pupils, the authority, the governors and the head are required by Section 407 to take "such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that… they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views".

The New Zealand Education Act does not have such clear safeguards to protect children from indoctrination by political propaganda. That is undoubtedly why the school curriculum not only teaches children about environmental activism (listing Greenpeace as a useful resource for primary school children) but also Maori activism by listing as a resource the Maori Independence site where the introduction states: “Maori have a long tradition of struggle and resistance against colonisation and the Crown sponsored theft of Maori land and resources. This site focuses on the ongoing struggle for Tino Rangatiratanga and the people who continue to "resist the pressures of colonisation and cultural and economic genocide”.

The infiltration of partisan politics is now imbedded within the New Zealand education curriculum.


Bruce Logan, a former teacher and founder of Maxim Institute, puts it this way: During the 1970s I taught in secondary schools in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and in each country, the process was the same - English and history curricula became politicised. Literature was distorted to promote ready-made social attitudes. Instead of taking a text for study in order to learn something about human nature, literature was beginning to be used as a lever for instilling fashionable social messages around topics such as ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’, or Neo-Marxist-inspired insights to ‘class consciousness’.

While many countries have now retreated from this outcomes-based approach to learning in favour of a more traditional focus on syllabus and standards, New Zealand is continuing down the radical path. Next month the Government’s controversial new curriculum will be released, which replaces the teaching of facts, figures and general knowledge, with the teaching of skills such as how to hold a conversation, and how to ask for help!

The British High Court case has reminded us that education should be free from political bias with facts being presented in a fair and impartial way. Given the increasing politicisation of our curriculum, surely it is time to introduce into our education act the same safeguards that British children have in theirs?

10 Comments:

Blogger John said...

The entire school system is designed to make students accept hierachy and to train them to do what they are told by employers for 8 hours a day, rather than highlight a liberal and rather conservative film you should be happy that almost all young people are forced to go through such a coercive institution aimed at creating a docile workforce. At no stage does Al Gore directly challenge the notions of growth, increasing consumption or the free market system, if anything he continues to indoctrinate young people to believe that "green" consumption and market forces can significantly slow climate change.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Parents can take some of the blame. Talk to your kids about what they are being told and what they are watching and reading at school. I must have the most skeptical 13 year-old who already knows how to write letters under the OIA, research a subject independently and challenge those he doubts. (I just hope he isn't too much of a pain in the ass:-))

1:17 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Most parents I know do just that Lindsay. They usually end up talking the headmaster re: classroom propaganda.

Then they pull their kids out of school because they're told its policy.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another of your climate skeptic posts aii trevor...?

6:03 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

John-explain to me why I "should be happy that almost all young people are forced to go through such a coercive institution aimed at creating a docile workforce"

10:17 PM  
Blogger John said...

Because if the education system was set up to encourage free thought and the challenging oof authority then capitalism would be unable to continue for very long.

I think you would be particularly interested in a docile population as every time workers or other groups whome capitalism is profiting off get organised and start challenging those in power you get angry.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trevor, you should try being a communist and working as a teacher in the New Zealand state education system.

It's far harder than you think dealing with the third way so-called social democratic bureaurats.

Talking to the parents is the best part.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the inconvenient truth is hardly hard propaganda - its tells people to use efficient light bulbs to fix climate chaos. its about market solutions - seeing as you are a climate skeptic trev that would anoy you and also that it isnt either far right wing or anti communist it is in the write a bad post about it catergory.

must be hard being a mc carthyist these days aii? all you can do is moan all day, post and look at your stocks.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You failed to mention that the judge quite clearly expressed that the movie won't be banned from schools, as Dimmock demanded, because the detected errors were minor in nature and that the movie contains four messages that are very well and truthfully documented: That climate change is made by man, that temperatures will rise further, that the climate change will have bad consequences and that it is possible for governments and individuals to do something about it.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Heine said...

Minor errors?? They were remarkably huge as they were used to back up his theories!

He used Hurricane Katrina, Lake Chad and Mt Kilimanjaro as examples when not one of them had a part of his crazy conspiracy theories!

3:21 AM  

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