Wed 14 Jun, 2017

WWI was one of the most horrific conflicts in all of human history and its worst aspects are being normalised in our schools. Ross Greer MSP

The Scottish Greens have slammed government ministers for their failure to condemn a ‘Dragon’s Den’ lesson plan putting children in the role of arms dealers.

After questioning by Green MSP during portfolio questions, education secretary John Swinney said that it is up to teachers to “determine the appropriateness” of external organisations visiting schools, including representatives from the defence industry.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, quizzed John Swinney after it was revealed that school children are being taught using a lesson that encourages pupils to become WW1 era arms dealers in a Dragons’ Den-style scenario. Pupils are asked to come up with a battle plan, recognise the ‘advantages’ of their weapon and sell it to the Dragons. The lesson plan cites calculating the rounds per minute fired by a machine gun as an opportunity to learn numeracy and using words like ‘bayonet’ and ‘flamethrower’ to increase literacy. At no point do the resources encourage teachers or pupils to see the weapons as anything other than positive products to sell and use.

The lesson plan has previously been described as ‘popular with teacher and pupils’ by Tony McDade, head of education at South Lanarkshire Council.

West of Scotland MSP, Ross Greer said:

“It is not for politicians to approve or reject every lesson plan or teaching resource but some are just so clearly unacceptable, so grossly insensitive and so absolutely inappropriate that they should be withdrawn from classrooms. There is clear precedent for this. I cannot understand the Scottish Government hedging its bets on whether it’s ok to ask 12 year olds what problem a flamethrower or bayonet solve.

“Asking children for a sales pitch and ‘battle plan’ on how they’d use weapons is appalling and it’s absolutely outrageous that children across the country are being presented with mass slaughter not just as a game but as good business. WWI was one of the most horrific conflicts in all of human history and its worst aspects are being normalised in our schools.

“Everyone respects teacher autonomy, but I don’t see how the Scottish Government can sit on the fence on this. There was nothing remotely normal about the chemical weapons used by all sides, which burned, blinded and suffocated tens of thousands of conscripted young soldiers, or the machine guns which slaughtered many, many more as they were forced into suicidal charges towards enemy trenches. Surely the Scottish Government agrees."

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