Children in danger of becoming slaves of choice

26th July 1996 at 01:00
Fred Naylor writes ("Need to clear the fog around values", TES July 7): "Under this Government, drugs education is about making pupils aware that they have a choice whether to take drugs ... We'll be telling children next that they have a choice whether to lie, cheat and steal."

The corollary of this is that, when they do lie, cheat or steal, they are not irresponsible, merely disobedient.

There is one law in the rule-book, another in their members. Throughout this article, however, Mr Naylor does not once mention consumerism, the multiplication of meaningless gratificatory choice. Truly, children today are in some danger of becoming the slaves of choice, though one can perhaps always choose not to choose.

The weakness of the Government policy, therefore, is that not taking any drug is merely one option among a choice of drugs on offer: cannabis, opiates, psychotropics, Ecstasy, crack - or none of these.

Values clarification, the merely critical approach to morality, may be inadequate, like much therapeutic discourse, but justification for more absolutist instruction comes from the free human response which it seeks. Such a response can never be wholly uncritical or inert.

MARTIN TURNER Brocksett Cottage Kennel Lane Windlesham Surrey

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