According to Sally and Nigel Rowe, the parents who’ve taken their child out of primary school in protest at a fellow classmate wearing a dress, politics is complex: “A six-year-old is not really able to, does not have the mental capacity to work out those kinds of things.”
I couldn’t agree more. As an atheist whose children were allocated places at a Church of England primary school, I, too, often have the feeling that “there’s a political agenda that’s driving and pushing” the beliefs my sons encounter in the classroom. Alas, unlike the Rowes, I don’t have the Daily Mail and millennia of patriarchal ideas about male and female conditioning on my side.
One person’s education is always another person’s indoctrination. Indeed, ever since my ten year old informed his grandma that “Theresa May’s a numpty”, I’ve been suspected of running my own Young Pioneers club on the quiet. We pretend this is all a question of whether or not children are mature enough to understand particular concepts, but really it’s something else. As adults we use the raising and educating of children to thrash out our own ideas of right and wrong. We know how powerful childhood conditioning is, and each of us wants our team to win.