Edinburgh City Council’s warning to teachers regarding the sharing of political views reeks of paranoia.
I accept that an odd fervent nationalist or unionist zealot will endeavour to mesmerise SQA examinees into Manchurian candidates who will sleepwalk into the polling booth and vote according to their master’s voice. However, the majority of staff will ensure balance in any classroom discussion and allow all views to be heard.
I have every faith that youngsters will bring up important issues that concern their futures, unlike some of the scaremongering by the political elite which has been puerile and embarrassing.
For example, our youth will not be worried that Luxembourg, that great European superpower, has broken ranks with the western world and come out against independence.
Instead, teenagers will wish to talk about how the referendum result will affect their job opportunities or their chances of a free university education.
It’s inconceivable that students will not try to ferret out the opinion of their teacher on independence.
However, teachers are professional people and are very aware that sharing one’s thoughts on controversial subjects is fraught with danger. Hence, they are as impartial as Question Time’s David Dimbleby when in charge of social education classes discussing matters such as euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment and same-sex marriage.
Ironically, school is probably the only forum where pupils will hear both sides of the argument. The lop-sided opinions (or apathy) of parents, peers and the media will inevitably have a greater impact on teenage voting intentions than one lesson each week delivered by a pedagogue.
Edinburgh’s advice that teachers should “Be Like Dad, Keep Mum” when conversing with colleagues within possible earshot of eavesdropping teenagers beggars belief. As any parent of an adolescent would confirm, teenagers never listen to a word an adult says.