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HOW TO PRESERVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH…AND THOUGHT?

by Cheryl Lacey, ©2019

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

(Aug. 18, 2019) — It’s none of your business what other people think of you.

What are your views on this statement?

We can never be absolutely sure what anyone is really thinking at any given time, or know what is behind a thought that has just been expressed. In a ‘slip of the tongue’ moment, someone has a thought, and immediately ‘captures’ it in words, which can never be taken back. The same thought could be reversed just a second later – a second too late – and is never expressed.

Sharing thoughts, via speech or the written word, can have its advantages; sharing ideas can help solve problems. Sharing views can also be problematic – especially when they attract nasty comments.

Now that the ‘cult’ of pervasive political correctness is rampant across the globe, the default position might be silence – a welcome retreat from the fear of saying anything wrong. But silence can also be problematic. It’s no way to live.

The Australian Curriculum provides a good example.

The Australian Curriculum includes broad written statements that describe what students should know, understand, and be able to do, by the end of each year level. Schools can adapt the curriculum according to the needs and aspirations of the school community. Their choices, however, must include 3 cross-curricular priorities, one of which is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. In other words, this must be embedded, where possible, in all teaching across the curriculum.

On the Australian Curriculum website, a search for the term ‘stolen generation’ returns 78 results. Clearly, there is a great deal of material for teachers to access. A search for ‘endo-cannibalism’ on the same website returns zero results. Given that endo-cannibalism is well documented as having occurred in Arnhem Land as recently as 1939, this is of grave concern.

Is this inequity in the teaching and learning of history? Should this be discussed or ignored? Is this something worth thinking about and sharing, or thinking about and remaining silent?

To share one’s thinking on this topic might risk a possible outcry. To remain silent, on the other hand, might risk ongoing bias with regard to what is taught by teachers and learned by students.

It’s a dilemma.

Education includes the acquisition of accurate knowledge and the sharing of thinking, in order to understand. This is key to our freedom, our prosperity and our individualism.

The cult of pervasive political correctness is a problem. Could it be that concerns about freedom of speech merely scratch the surface? Perhaps losing our freedom of thought is the real threat?

You might choose to give this some serious thought. And whatever you think about me for writing this, you are free to think it. That’s none of my business.

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Cheryl Lacey is an Australian-based advocate for education. As a ‘navigator of the educational landscape’, she investigates landmark policies and practices and suggests directions for change. She works with parents, and professional educators, calling on them to make their voices heard in education-related discussions. In her latest publication Are Schools Marching Backwards? Cheryl Lacey challenges some of the basic concepts that underpin education and makes no apology for what are sometimes controversial observations.  With a focus on 20 important principles Cheryl opens a much needed debate on critical education reform.

www.cheryllacey.com   cheryl@cheryllacey.com

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