Byline: Katie Grant
ANYONE contemplating a career in primary school education may quietly beshelving their ambitions this morning, having learned their future duties willinclude teaching their small charges about 'gender identity', ie, why it's OKif Dad wants to dress as Mum or if Charlotte suddenly decides to be known asCharles.
An 'expert' (naturally) huddle of educationalists, equal rights campaigners andcommunity groups have written a report for Scottish ministers sayingtransgender, gay and bisexual issues are appropriate classroom fodder forprimary children - and, like nodding donkeys, Scottish ministers are likely toconcur.
I have nothing against transgender people but I have everything against thisludicrous proposal. For reasons obvious to anybody with one ounce of commonsense, such 'issues' have absolutely no place in a primary school. But what iseven more worrying than the spreading of sexual confusion in the prepubescentis the educational message such a proposal sends out to both the Scottishpublic and the wider world.
In recent years, with the rise of hugely powerful pressure groups, often withpartisan sexual interests, the academic content of Scottish schooling has beenwhittled away and replaced by social and moral engineering.
Never mind that more than half our 14-year-olds can barely read, it'scross-dressing that matters. Never mind that fewer than half of 11-yearolds cando basic arithmetic, so long as the boys can happily wear lipstick.
Denigration It's not only in state schools that this creeping denigration ofreal education is going on. Government inspectors ensure that in someindependent schools, personal and social education is given greater prioritythan physics - and God help poor old Latin, which is being increasinglysidelined, as though a working knowledge of Cicero is somehow an elitistembarrassment when a class could be studying chlamydia, cottaging or condoms.
The watchword of the day is, of course, 'relevance', a word that has beenhijacked to justify every assault on the kind of education parents want fortheir children and increasingly don't get. No debate on education is completewithout somebody condemning history or algebra as 'irrelevant' and gettingcompliant schoolchildren to join in the chorus of disapproval.
Yet, while relevance certainly has a place in the educational spectrum, Isometimes think that our political masters have actually forgotten what, in aschool context, the word means.
School is not just about preparing for life, it's about learning how to get themost out of it. Maths teaches children accuracy. Reading and writing are aboutcommunication.
History teaches us lessons for the future. Geography keeps us from believing weare the centre of the universe.
Learning a foreign language, one of the things that often gets discarded, isrelevant because it opens you up to how languages are constructed and to howother cultures work. If you don't end up speaking fluent French, that stilldoesn't make it a waste of time. You'll know something more about France.
Above all, when you leave school, you should know that knowledge itself, ofwhatever subject, is power. Get a child to understand that and the cry 'it'snot relevant' soon dies away.
This is not to say that the whole school day must be spent poring over books.I'm all for domestic science classes turning out children who can producedecent macaroni cheese and know the difference between a cabbage and acauliflower. …