For a certain type of educational progressivist, Katharine Birbalsingh is Emmanuel Goldstein. It’s been this way since she first gave a speech at the UK’s Conservative Party conference in 2010, all through her attempts to set up a Free School in London, and it has continued despite the manifest success of that now well-established school community.
For some, to encounter Birbalsingh’s tweets is to bridge the air gap between the ground and an overhead, high voltage power-line, causing them to twist, contort and become grotesques in response. In answer to an observation we may imagine it took Birbalsingh all of a few seconds to compose, we read the ugly personal attacks and equivocation of bad faith social media argument. And yet this time, Birbalsingh’s thoughts on the concept of original sin have taken the mania to a new plane.
Pascal Triangle ☺ @CisceroToday@lmfaoallin @Miss_Snuffy We are all born "bad", that is why it is so important to be morally educated and not just conditioned.
Demonstrating the centrality and importance of Birbalsingh’s every utterance, we have been subjected now to days of commentary on the theology and philosophy of original sin and, whichever critic you pick, Birbalsingh’s own sin is that she DOES NOT UNDERSTAND IT.
To someone with generous intentions, it is plain what Birbalsingh is saying - children are not born saints, corrupted by the world. Instead, they are born with all of the complex qualities possessed of adults, including the capacity for evil. Without moral guidance, children can and will be selfish and cruel.
I’m not sure I fully agree with all of Birbalsingh’s thesis, but I know I disagree with its antithesis, a core concept of educational progressivism and a widely shared romantic view - that children are born morally perfect and it is the adult world that corrupts them.
It is this belief that informs Rousseau’s views of the education of his fictitious Emile. Rousseau must hide Emile away from the corrupting influence of the world for as long as possible.
And it is this belief that hobbles any sensible attempt to discuss school behaviour. For if children are born good and only ever corrupted by adults then their dysfunctional behaviour can only ever be a response to this corruption. The adults need to reflect, differentiate, adjust, negotiate, placate and restore. And if that doesn’t work, they need to do more of it.
Alternative views are unwelcome at best, demonic at worst and heretics such as Birbalsingh must be cast out, because children are born good.