“Lies” were responsible for the electoral success of Donald Trump and Brexit, and the role of teachers is to push students towards “progressive rebellion”, according to a piece in this week’s TES.
Writing in the weekly magazine for educators, which was formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement, Oliver Beach called victories for populism at the ballot box last year “frightening” and said teachers must counter the “post-truth” climate from which he claims they resulted.
Beach, who appeared on the BBC show ‘Tough Young Teachers’ before quitting the profession, cites “post-truth politics” as “the most frightening development” of the last year.
Asserting that the decisions of “naive voters” to opt for Trump and Brexit were “based on lies”, citing the property tycoon’s campaign promise to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Beach said educators must prepare students to ‘empower and encourage’ young people to “challenge and question” right-wing politics.
The former reality TV star said he fears teachers have become “complacent” in believing progressive politics will continue sweeping the West, and warned of “pitchfork”-wielding right wingers who support a “narrative of pro-guns, anti-gays, limiting women’s reproductive rights and building physical national borders”.
Educators should be prepared to combat a “reactionary counter-revolution”, Beach cautioned, stating that (unspecified) rhetoric from the president-elect had the power to “divide, terrorise, outrage and exclude”. If unchallenged, he warned that populist victories at the ballot box would give “new momentum to those with similar views here and across Western democracies”.
“The next world leader is sitting in a classroom today”, he noted, and asserted that teachers’ role of “curating minds” at this time in history “could not be more important”.
The world “[doesn’t] need more Donald Trumps, Nigel Farages or Marine Le Pens”, the former educator wrote. Instead, he concludes, teachers should prime children to become “Martin Luther Kings, Harvey Milks and Rosa Parks”.
Though Beach claims Trump’s pledge to erect a wall is an example of “post-truth politics”, one-third of the world’s countries have built or are now in the process of building fences on their borders, as physical barriers become an increasingly popular way of excluding illegal migrants.