Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education says the "values clarification" method of progressive educationalists is a disaster.
Most people involved with local authorities who read The Sunday Telegraph investigation into 'Frank', the government's drugs helpline, will have been shocked but not unduly concerned. 'Frank' is a central government initiative, which they can do nothing much about.
'Drugs not harmful, children told by helpline' was the headline. 'Frank', it was reported, employs 75 advisers and received £6.5m in 2008-09 from the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
What makes it dangerous is not just its non-judgemental ethos, but its emphasis on how to dabble in drugs safely, instead of avoiding them altogether. The same applies to sex education. It's not about avoiding sexual activity, even for youngsters under the age of consent. It's about how to indulge as safely as possible. Harm reduction is the name of the game, not prevention.
As most teachers know, there are two ways to teach values, which lead to particular patterns of behaviour.
The traditional method is 'values transmission', where the values of responsible adults (families or wider society) are transmitted from one generation to the next.
The 'progressive' method is 'values clarification', where youngsters are given information (which may or may not be complete and unbiased) and told to make their own 'informed choices'/'informed decisions'.
The key point about 'values clarification' is that there are no right or wrong values. Nor right or wrong decisions. All that matters is that the choice or decision is freely made by the individual concerned.
It was invented in 1960s California by three psychologists, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Dr William Coulson. Recognising its dangers, Dr Coulson has opposed it ever since.
Carl Rogers' books, Freedom to Learn and Freedom to Learn in the 80s are often quoted. But an independent account can be found in The Road to Malpsychia: humanistic psychology and our discontents by Joyce Milton (Encounter Books, 2002). Milton explains how the psychologists hoped to make humanistic psychology the basis of a revolutionary, anti-religious movement based on the self. Their aim was to create an ideal society of ‘self-actualised’ individuals who, free from rules and restrictions, would all live in harmony.
Although many of their activities descended into chaos and many lives were ruined, this weird ideology spread like wildfire. (And leftists have the nerve to blame Lady T. for creating a self-centred society!) As Joyce Milton writes, “The encounter method [sharing feelings in groups, as in Circle Time] is problematical under the best of circumstances, but when people are dragooned into taking part in a ‘transformative process’, by facilitators with a pre-determined agenda, the only word for what goes on is brainwashing.”
Yet 'values clarification’ is now part of the National Curriculum. Its techniques are embedded in Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) and 'Circle Time'. Though the term 'values clarification' rarely appears in official documents, the words 'informed choice' or 'informed decisions' – either of which indicates the presence of 'values clarification' – appear with disturbing regularity.
Obviously, in a free society, people make their own decisions, so long as they remain within the law. But do 5- and 7-year-olds, or even young teenagers, have the knowledge and experience to decide for themselves?
What happens if a parent or a teacher tells a child to do something, but the child decides it's a waste of time? Whose decision prevails?
According to the principles of 'values clarification', it should be the child's.
As part of their job, almost every local authority 'expert' adviser on PSHCE follows this dangerous ideology. So it might make sense to check their documentation and teaching materials and decide for
yourself? And share your experience with others?