The normalisation of political extremism in schools

By Mark Lopez

Currently, political correctness has enormous momentum and no brakes.  Adverse consequences for promoting left-wing extremism are difficult to find, while reporting the adverse consequences for questioning it keeps Sky News presenters busy seven days a week.  To advocate for left-wing extremism is not rebellion but conformity. 

In regards to the education system, it has gone beyond expressing a politically correct left-wing bias to actively recreating Australia in its own image. 

Here is an example from the annual professional development day run by the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English (VATE) held on 16 February.   

A presenter on the new creative-writing dimension of the year 12 course advocated that teachers encourage their students to attend a ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ rally (which involves wagging a day of school) and then write a ‘reflective’ piece on it. This would be part of their school-assessed coursework that would contribute towards their university entrance ranking. 

The presenter also encouraged teachers to find material on the ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ movement to inspire students in their creative writing. 

The presenter was not off on a tangent, but precisely teaching the state-sanctioned curriculum produced by the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority that is unambiguously designed to orientate the young into the culture of left-wing activism.  Students are encouraged to write on the theme of ‘Protest’: 

Explorations of conflict and contest, what it means to protest, the value of protest, the outcomes of protest, personal stories of protest, struggle and war.

Students could explore established figures like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Vida Goldstein, marginalised figures like Pemulwuy and Claudette Colvin, and figures and movements like Greta Thunberg and the BLM [Black Lives Matter] protests.  Events like massacres in Australia and the Frontier Wars could be explored as expressions of protest  ̶  and the attendant tragedy.  There could also be explorations of the success and failure of protest  ̶  and the prescient protests that gained ground after the original protest had faded.  Students could consider individual protest and group protest. Victorian Certificate of Education, English and English as an Additional Language Study Design (2022)

Not the slightest hint that students could consider protests against, for example, the intellectually stiffing oppressiveness of political correctness.  The intellectually stifling oppressiveness of political correctness in schools is far too effective to allow even a hint of that. 

Any pretence of the education system appearing even-handed went long ago, gobbled up by anti-Trump hostility (the election of Donald trump as US president in 2016 enraged the left-wing establishment and inspired it to do whatever it takes never let anything like that happen again), #MeToo campaign enthusiasm, anger over the Coalition’s shock win in the 2019 federal election, the siren call of Black Lives Matter and Antifa militancy (‘Burn baby! Burn!’), and the enormous resentment over the defeat of the Voice referendum in 2023 and the desire to proceed anyway with the ‘decolonisation’ agenda with or without the democratic support of the Australian people.  (English teachers were explicitly mobilised by VATE to promote the Voice to their students in the hope they would influence parents and others old enough to vote.) 

Radical left-wing politics is normal in schools, an atmosphere reflected at the VATE training days and conferences.  Radical left-wing politics is so normal at these events it can seem mundane.  Radical terms like ‘decolonisation’, which delegitimises the Australian settlement, drip unceremoniously off the tongues of presenters, while the equating of ‘capitalism’ with injustice (and nothing else) is completely normalised. 

When I first attended these VATE events over 20 years ago, it was like being at an ALP meeting. (On several occasions, I even overheard chatting teachers calling each other ‘comrade’.)  Now, I feel I’m at a Greens or Socialist Alliance meeting. 

I am not sure how much longer favourable references to US civil rights campaigners from the 1950s and 1960s will last. They look increasingly antique and conservative in their advocacy of equal rights, which has been displaced by the postmodern notion of ‘equity’, which involves discriminating in favour of so-called victim groups and against white males, demanding quotas of representation in institutions coveted by the Left. 

What we may call the politically correct Left, or woke, or identity politics, or cultural Marxism (all names for the same thing) has evolved into something more than an ideology featuring: pacifism, feminism, environmentalism, anti-racism/multiculturalism, Marxism/socialism and gay rights.  It has become a profoundly intolerant mindset where individuals are primed to be triggered to hostility at positive references to Western civilisation.  It resembles the tragic religious intolerance of the Reformation with its inquisitorial panels and smashing the heads off the statues of saints. 

And another thing.  Teachers can become victims too. 

Indoctrinated woke young people can report their teacher to the school Wellbeing Coordinator for misgendering or using an offensive term.  Last year, a teacher trying to teach John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men deliberately used the euphemistic ‘n-word’ to avoid using the word it stands for, which frequently appears in the novel written and set in California during the Great Depression. But with some misbehaving kids fixated on baiting the new teacher, all they had to do was report that they felt ‘shamed’ to precipitate a bureaucratic process that led to the union becoming involved to save the arse of a decent teacher who had raised her own mixed-race family.  No wonder there’s a teacher shortage. 

Mark Lopez is the author of School Sucks: A Report on the State of Education in the Politically Correct Era, Connor Court, 2020

This was published as ‘Comrade Teacher, Young Minds are Yours’, Quadrant Online, 24 February 2024

The published version differed from what I originally wrote.  This is the authentic version.