This is an approach by Nicky Morgan to counteract extremism and radicalisation, both very sensitive issues featured in the news fairly frequently recently, and to give parents, teachers and educators advice on protecting children against them.
Whether this will help is another matter. But however much we feel this is never going to be an issue in our own lives the site is perhaps worth investigating.
Looking round the site there is some valuable information for all, whoever we are and whatever involvement with parenting and education we have. It is clearly laid out and easy to use with a question and answer format covering all the concerns we might have like; what the threat is, how our children can be affected and what signs to look out for, among other things. With links to further resources and support.
Reading the information almost evokes a sense of unease. Not only because of these delicate issues we perhaps don’t want to acknowledge, but also the worry that bringing our focus to it may somehow trigger it off; like a self fulfilling prophecy! And we’d rather the whole scenario would just go away. But it is a real concern in our new multi-cultural and technological world, as pressing as the concern over children being safe on the Net.
Miss Morgan’s strategies so far in her position as education minister have not won much favour. As with others before her she seems far removed from the world of teaching and learning and parenting that most of us inhabit. And this might just be another strategy to make us all feel our children will be safe in her hands.
Yet this site holds useful information should we need it. And there’s no doubt this is a subject we need to broach with our children and young people and not shy away from as many do on similar contentious subjects like racism, sex or drugs.
But whether we can educate against hate – a rather negative approach – is another matter. And we also have to ask the question whether radicalism and extremism are always bad. For example, Steve Jobs had pretty radical ideas, not to mention Einstein in his day, and we’re all glad they did.
What we can do as parents and educators is perhaps consider educating for the opposite; for care, consideration, knowledge and respect, through our connections with our young learners and by our own example, making sure that any form of hate is never part of it. And we can do that by the way we communicate.
The connections that children and young people have with the people nearest them will be what determine their interests, opinions, ideas and ideals.
So perhaps our job is to make sure we keep an honest, non-judgemental and supportive channel of communication open at all times with our kids. That we give time to engage, listen and share. Even sharing views on the subjects of radicalisation and extremism and what forms may do us harm.