Freedom needs no charter

13th December 1996 at 00:00
The article "Values and the curriculum" (TESS, November 22) by Conroy and Davis makes an unnecessary and unhelpful dichotomy between morality and citizenship. The ideal of "good citizenship" has no charter in Britain, as it has for example in the American, French, German and other constitutions. In schools in those countries, pupils often have to "salute the flag" at morning assemblies.

In Scotland we are not constrained in this way, and free to develop in multi-racial and multi-faith schools suitable and meaningful assemblies for children of different faiths or none, by finding an area of common ground, as well as space for individual and personal convictions.

Reminding ourselves as teachers that we must challenge the easy option of stereotyping people according to race, gender, religion and class, we help our pupils to progress further on their development to maturity, to being "good citizens". The "hidden curriculum" needs to be scrutinised for its overt and covert racism, sexism, negative nationalism, etc - and for its omissions (for example, Conroy and Davis have a Eurocentric list of texts which they recommend, and yet the list has no women writers).

We also take part in an authentic and humane dialogue with our pupils in the midst of the reality of the classroom, and not only in the aesthetic imagination. The school, the home, the street, the housing scheme and their problems must be treated as shared responsibilities and their goals as shared challenges.

Policy documents from More Than Feelings of Concern to the newest Higher Still publications show how urgently "good citizens" are needed, staff and teachers alike, if the schools are to survive into the millennium with credibility and conviction for all our pupils and their parents.

JANINE FITZPATRICK Havelock Street Glasgow

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