Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Friday, June 16, 2006
"Ever wondered what our schools are teaching children about terrorism?" Mick Hume asks in the Times.
To judge by some of the material in an education pack being used in my London borough, the questions might include: could al-Qaeda poison your burger? Did the American Government stage the September 11 attacks? And what lessons for the Middle East can you learn from arguing with your mum?
Hume writes that this story was first reported by the Walthamstow Guardian.
When the Walthamstow Guardian asked if the 9/11 attacks should be used as a teaching tool, one educationist said the pack was not about “preaching” to children, but about providing “impartial and unbiased information” and “letting them make sense of it”.

That would be information such as: “The terrorists had shown that, despite America’s size and military power, careful planning and complete faith could defeat them.”

So al-Qaeda defeated America. Or did it? After all, according to this impartial pack, “it is not known whether Flight 93 was taken over by passengers or shot down by the military”. The only people to whom this should be “not known” are conspiracy theorists. You might as well tell kids it is not known whether men really landed on the Moon.

From Hume's article I had the impression that the Walthamstow Guardian had expressed concern about the contents of the pack. However if this is the story Hume saw, I was wrong. It is almost as bland as this press release covering the launch of the pack.

There is one oddly defensive sentence in the press release, "The images used are those that have been published in reputable newspapers and magazines." Another oddity turns up at the end of Naomi Wright's article for the Walthamstow Guardian. The last sentence says, "Ms Wilson said the design on the front of the pack had been changed to the current picture shortly before the packs were printed." The oddity about this is not the words themselves, but the way this sentence is stuck on the end with nothing leading up to it. If I were not the idle wastrel that I am, I would go sniffing around for some earlier controversy about a picture used in the pack.