“I’m a teacher, not a…”: the problem of mission creep in schools

Clio et cetera

It is a well-known problem that schools suffer from ‘mission-creep’. It is common these days for just about every problem in society to be placed at the door of education: crime, social and economic inequality, health (including mental health), radicalisation, and so on. Lobby groups fall over themselves to tell politicians what ought to be taught in schools. It has become an easy way for politicians to show that they are making a difference: “because of problem x, we shall introduce y in schools”.

This is why perhaps one of the most important ethical questions in education is not what should be taught in schools, but rather but what should not be taught in schools. I no longer take seriously anyone who has a view about the school curriculum unless their argument is accompanied by an associated argument for what schools ought not to be responsible for.


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