How about teaching children to think critically?

I was going to note that the refusal by students at a Jewish school in north London to answer an exam question on The Merchant of Venice as a protest against antisemitism may open a can of proverbial worms. But Seth Freedman, writing at Comment is free, beat me to it noting:

[T]here could be similar boycotts of TS Eliot, Wagner, Ezra Pound, and any number of other artists whose personal ethics are called into question by students. Similarly, the precedent has now been set for his pupils to opt out of studying any texts where they feel the author was a misogynist, Islamophobe, or any other type of bigot. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, and sanctioned by the school’s teaching staff, it will prove very difficult to seal again further down the line.

After all, all forms of prejudices, bigotry and discrimination can be found in almost all kinds of writing. So, where do we stop?

What if religious students decide some aspects of biology (i.e. evolution), are against their moral and personal beliefs and refuse to sit an exam on that basis? What then?

Rather than applaud such efforts, schools be encouraging their students to think critically. Is The Merchant of Venice antisemitic? If so, why? What does that tell us?

Of course, such critical thinking skills may also lead to the questioning of other dogmas…


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