The grandfather of modern physics, Sir Isaac Newton, has become the latest target of the woke mob in the push to “decolonise the curriculum”, as Sheffield University is reportedly set to contextualise lessons on Newton with claims about him benefiting from “colonial-era activity”.
Students at the university in the north of England will reportedly have lessons on Netwon’s groundbreaking three laws of motion, including the law of gravity, with explainers detailing the “global origins and historical context” of his theories.
Professors in the engineering department of Sheffield University will seek to “challenge long-standing conscious and unconscious biases” among pupils and to confront the supposed “white saviour” and “Eurocentric” view of science and mathematics, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.
A diversity consultant at several top universities in Britain decried the efforts to decolonise the curriculum, warning that the movement is expanding from the traditionally left-wing humanities departments into the hard sciences.
“I’m employed by universities to do this training but for me equality, diversity and inclusion training is equality of opportunity, diversity of thought and inclusivity of action – that’s all,” the unnamed consultant said.
“This is something different altogether. It is blatantly teaching people to be activists,” the consultant added.
A leaked copy of the university’s “draft inclusive curriculum development” strategy developed by the Russell Group research university claims that “much important engineering content and curriculum resources is based on maths developed in the 18/19th century”.
It goes on to say that scientists such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Paul Dirac, Pierre-Simon Laplace, and Newton could all “be considered as benefiting from colonial-era activity”.
The documents did not explain how Newton benefitted from colonialism. On the contrary, it is known that he lost some £20,000 in investments in a failed slave trade company.
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Science writer and Isaac Newton biographer James Gleick said: “Whether Newton’s foolish investment in South Sea shares in 1720 means that he participated in the slave trade is arguable.
“I doubt he thought about it. I would say that all England benefited from colonialism. The correct response to that is to teach it.”
The general secretary of the Free Speech Union, Toby Young, added: “Newton famously said, ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Everyone studying maths or engineering deserves to stand on Newton’s shoulders so they, too, can see further, regardless of their ethnicity.”
Newton is not the only celebrated British scientist to fall foul of the woke mob, with samples collected by English naturist Charles Darwin being swept up in a review of potentially “offensive” exhibits at the UK’s Natural History Museum in September.
Amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK following the death of George Floyd in the American city of Minneapolis last year, universities seized upon the moment to push their anti-British Empire agenda.
In February, for example, the University of Leicester scrapped studies in Medieval English, including Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowolf, in favour of courses centring around diversity, race, and sexuality.
The government’s universities minister, Michelle Donelan, has warned that the leftist push on campus is similar to the Soviet Union’s efforts to “whitewash” history.
“The so-called decolonisation of the curriculum is, in effect, censoring history,” she said, adding: “It otherwise becomes fiction, if you start editing it, taking bits out that we view as stains.”
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