At the chalkface: Having opinions

Written by: Ian Whitwham | Published:

The key to Katie is that she doesn’t do doubt. The key to education is that it does. Creative doubt.

Roll Up! Roll up! Coming to a school near you! “The Katie Hopkins Stand Strong School Tour - November 2017”.

Yikes! Not Katie Hopkins, the Leading Thinker and Controversialist? With an ego like a raging tooth and opinions to the right of Ghengis Khan? Who sells these rancid opinions for large amounts of cash to the Sun or Mail? For whom migrants are “cockroaches” and “vermin”?

Afraid so. The very same. She’s now the Educator, the scourge of pinko, loony-left teachers everywhere and keen to unleash her bracing opinions on tiny young minds. She might even now be hanging round your school gates, like Grendel’s mum.

You better put some pupils on Katie Watch.

Let us regard her leaflet for this grand tour of the nation. She will be offering free one-hour sessions to key stage 4 pupils. They will be encouraged to become more brave, fearless, strident and shrill in their opinions.

“If your friends want you to change your opinions, change your friends.” You are what you opine.

“Own your opinions and stand strong!” “Own”? What does this silly word mean? Bernstein’s restricted code? Katie’s a bit light on conditionals. Or having a closed, fixed mind? Or just celebrating pig ignorance and vile prejudice? Who knows?

There will be “case studies” on controversial topics. To include the rise of Brexit, the ascendency of the Trump, and the Shaming of that bastard who demolished Cedric the Lion. The first two are presumably Good Things, the last probably not.

With 14-year-olds? One shudders. The key to Katie is that she doesn’t do doubt. The key to education is that it does. Creative doubt.

Having Opinions is the last thing children need. They’re increasingly encouraged to pontificate on the likes of global warming, immigration, abortion, bombs, gender, scroungers and, of course, the accursed Donald. It just prompts knee-jerk non-thought, a vacancy.

Difficulty, complexity, ambiguity and thinking are trashed. Adults are no better. Witness Question Time, the Mail online, shock jocks, PMQs, snarling phone lines and all the Babel of twittering, trolling, face-booking and resinous click bait. It keeps us stupid and coarsens the soul. So does Katie.

She signs off, quaintly.

“Go you good things, go.” Eh?

Katie shouldn’t really be allowed out, but she shouldn’t be banned. It will only encourage her. Heads will hopefully resist her. So far she doesn’t seem to have had many takers. If she does, key stage 4 pupils will surely be too sharp and sussed – and terminally bored by this grim tour – and send her packing.

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.


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