The Mail is reporting warnings from ‘behaviour tsar’ Tom Bennet that students who demand protection from controversial views are the product of a mollycoddled ‘snowflake generation’ and has called on schools to do more to expose them to controversial views.
Tom Bennett said the problem began at school when too many children were protected from the ‘harsher realities of the world’ and then had trouble coping with challenging ideas at university.
Schools should do more to teach children not to feel ‘scared that other people will disagree with them’ and instead encourage discussion and debate, he said. Pupils as young as four should be taught to confront difficult truths in life, including discussing prejudice against gay people.
Mr Bennett’s comments come after a number of ‘no-platforming’ incidents, in which students have campaigned to block controversial speakers appearing on campuses over their supposedly ‘offensive’ views…
‘If you want to create a healthy community of people who are liberally minded and prone towards compassion and democracy, you need to start encouraging those values quite early on and principally by role modelling,’ he said.
‘Help them go to university, and encourage children not to be scared that other people will disagree with them. [With] generation snowflake, sometimes, there is an element of truth that children are a little bit inoculated perhaps against the harsher realities of the world.
‘And then when they go to university they might then encounter a truth that may overwhelm them. No wonder they are seeking safe spaces, because they can’t handle that truth.’
Speaking at a conference on free speech last week, Mr Bennett said that he had not seen no-platforming in schools, but some teachers were keen to steer clear of difficult topics…
He said it was ‘irresponsible’ for adults to pretend that offensive views did not exist and instead should ‘create a kind of healthy space – not a safe space – for debate to appear…’
It’s hard to know how much it is a media phenomenon or how much it is real, but there do seem to be some worrying signs amongst the current generation of students of an intolerance of free speech or opinions that might be seen as disagreeable.
What do you think of Tom Bennett’s suggestions that schools should do more to encourage discussion and debate in the classroom from an early age, rather than sheltering children from controversial issues and viewpoints?
Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…
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