The future of free speech: will tackling ‘radicalisation’ mean the death of debate?

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The government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy sees the sudden psychological ‘radicalisation’ of vulnerable children and young people as the cause of today’s apparently meaningless acts of terrorism. It has turned teachers and lecturers into spies looking out for signs of ‘radicalisation’ including signs of unusual behaviour and mental illness. ‘Prevent’ has many critics who often condemn it as ‘Islamophobic’ for targeting Muslims, while its supporters claim that the aim is to prevent terrorism in all its forms including that of extreme right or ‘Fascist’ groups and that of individual fanatics.

But is the idea behind ‘Prevent’ ineffective because it is essentially passive? Watching, waiting and hoping are hardly inspiring activities.  The celebration of freedoms, of fun and the enjoyment of life are what will challenge the tendency to nihilistic, misanthropic and often self-hating acts of violence. Instead of active assertion of values, lecturers and teachers are required to create an Orwellian climate of suspicion and fear. Some even welcome their community safety roles and go about seeking out supposed signs of radicalisation.

A duty to report suspicions to the police and other authorities leaves teachers and lecturers in a morally shameful state. Their only weapon in response to the challenge of narcissistic and nihilistic extremism is to use the one ability that any teacher or lecturer worthy of the name has, the ability to discuss and debate every issue, however ‘sensitive’ or ‘offensive’ it may be. That includes the necessity to debate ‘Prevent’ and its implications without looking constantly over your shoulder.

Teachers and lecturers have a choice, either they can live in fear and spread fear, or they can speak up and say what they think and encourage pupils and students to speak freely.

At this Battle of Ideas satellite we will uphold the motto of the Institute of Ideas: ‘Free Speech Allowed!’ and let nothing prevent people from speaking up. Come along and keep debate alive.

Date, Time and Venue: Tuesday 8 November at 7 PM, in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby. Tickets £5 (waged) £3 (unwaged) available on Eventbrite.

Speakers:

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Knowledge versus Skills: the great education debate 2016

callaghanDo we want children to learn ‘the best that has been known and thought in the world’ or do we want them to have the skills necessary for work and life in the 21st Century? Why impose an elite, Victorian curriculum on children today? Children need to be empowered to unleash their creativity and to develop the soft skills for a new world and a new workplace. Do really need latter day Gradgrinds pouring ‘facts’ into empty vessels and then examining them? Shouldn’t we look after the whole child and ensure they do not grow up unhappy with potential mental illness but become rounded personalities who can make a positive contribution to society? Our Salon on 18 October 2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the ‘Great Debate’ on education launched by then Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in a speech at Ruskin College Oxford on 18 October 1976. In that debate Callaghan invited business to suggest how education could re-vitalise the economy. The consequence was the introduction of instrumental and short-term schemes that didn’t train or educate young people. On the 18 October 2016 the East Midlands Salon (sponsored by SCETT) launches a new ‘Great Debate’: In 2016 do we need young people who have what might be called ‘old fashioned’ knowledge or ‘modern day’ skills?

Speakers at this Battle of Ideas Satellite  are:

Professor Michael Young (Author of Bringing Knowledge Back In)

Katie Ivens (Director, Real Action)

Professor Dennis Hayes (Co-author of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education)

Chair: Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (Programme Leader for Education Studies, University of Derby)

Date and Time: Tuesday 18 October 2016 7 PM

Venue: Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby

Tickets £5 (£3 Unwaged) available from Eventbrite.

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The autumn programme 2016

ArgumentThe East Midlands Salon is taking a summer break but will be back in the autumn with a whole new programme. We begin with a special event in September:

Wednesday 28 September – What is the role of a Salon in the 21st Century?

Speakers will include Simon Belt (convenor of the Manchester Salon) on salon organisation and Dennis Hayes on the origins of the Salon – from his talk on ‘Sex and the Salon’. This is an informal discussion for supporter of the Salons and is by invitation only. If you would like to attend please email the Salon.

And in October we have our Battle of Ideas Satellite event:

Tuesday 18 October 2016 at 6.30 PM in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby – Knowledge versus Skills: the great education debate 2016

Speakers at this ‘round table’ include the distinguished sociologist of education, Professor Michael Young and Katie Ivens, Director of the education charity Real Action.

Tuesday 8 November at 7 PM will be a post-Battle of Ideas satellite, sponsored by Academics For Academic Freedom- The future for free speech – will tackling ‘radicalisation’ mean the death of debate?

Speakers include, Abdullah Muhammed (Chaplain, University of Derby), Dr Roba Al-Ghabra (Solicitor with civil liberties lawyers Birnberg Peirce).

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Every Cook Can Govern: the life, work and impact of C.L.R. James

c-l-r-james-3Our unique June Salon is the Midlands’ premiere of Every Cook Can Govern, the first feature-length documentary to explore the life, writings and politics of the great Trinidad-born revolutionary C.L.R. James who died in Brixton in 1989.

This historical tour-de-force interweaves never before seen footage of C.L.R. James with unique testimony from those he knew, alongside interviews with the world’s most eminent scholars of James’ life, work and politics. Through a challenging overview of his life and his thoughts on colonialism to cricket, from Marxism to the movies, from reading to revolution, what emerges in this film is an understanding of what it meant to be an uncompromising revolutionary in the 20th Century.

Every Cook Can Govern marks the culmination of a three year multimedia project arranged by the education charity WORLDwrite and its Citizen TV station WORLDbytes. Its unique production history – crowd-funded, crowd-featured and crowd-filmed – does credit to James’ conviction that every cook can govern. The film brings to life James’ thought and shows what it means to be uncompromising in one’s principles to the very end and to fearlessly question received wisdom and the world around us.

Ceri Dingle, the producer and Director of WORLDwrite, will introduce the film. We hope you can join us.

Date, Time and  Venue:  Tuesday 21 June at 17.30 at One Friar Gate Square, Derby, DE1 1DZ.

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The morality of tourism

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From the 1960s, tourism was encouraged as an unquestionable good. With the arrival of package holidays and charter flights, tourism could at last be enjoyed by the masses. The UN even declared 1967 ‘International Years of the Tourist’, and recognised tourism was as ‘a basic and most desirable human activity, deserving the praise and encouragement of all people’s and all governments’.

Today, however, tourism is no longer seen in such a positive light. Since the 1990s there’s been growing criticism of the tourist industry, and tourists themselves. Mass tourism is deemed to have wrought damage to the environment and host societies, while many tourists are seen as caring little for the countries they travel to. To remedy this, new forms of tourism have developed that proclaim themselves to be ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible; that can help make a positive difference to the world, or at least minimise our negative impact.

However, in recent years responsible tourism has also face criticism. On the one hand, ethical tourists are often regarded as naïve, patronising and more interested in salving their own guilty Western consciences than genuinely helping people. On the other, some argue that such tourism constitutes a burden that actually hinders progress and development in countries that need it the most. It is also claimed that, while such tourism may have the language of responsibility, it is really about restricting travel for the masses and keeping it for the privileged ‘ethical’ few.

So is tourism an innocent pleasure, or is there a need to curb the excesses of the holiday industry, and even holiday makers themselves? Should holidays be solely about enjoyment, or do we have a responsibility to the places we visit to ‘tread lightly’ or even ‘put something back’? What is ‘ethical tourism’ and who does it benefit?

Our speaker for this topical Salon is Dr Jim Butcher, reader in the geography of tourism at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Date, time and venue: Tuesday 24 May at 7 PM in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite

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Is ’empowerment’ empowering?

Empowerment 1‘Empowerment’ is a term in widespread use today and one that is often considered to be a self-evident good. In this talk Ken McLaughlin will explore its emergence in the 1960s through to its rise in the 1990s and ubiquity in present day discourse in education, social work and health and social care discourse. He will examine how it constructs and positions those being empowered and those empowering and will argue that a focus on empowerment has superseded the notion of political subjects exercising power autonomously.

Date and time: Tuesday 26 April at 7 PM

Venue: The Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby

Tickets: £5 waged / £3 unwaged available on Eventbrite or at the door.

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Parenting, neuroscience and the state

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David Cameron argues he wants parents to see parenting classes as ‘aspirational’. He and others involved in policy making across the political spectrum argue there is a pressing need for more and more such early intervention in the lives of children, starting in-utero. This is where the opportunity exists to make lives better, or impair them for good, they say, claiming neuroscience tells us this is true. In this talk Dr Ellie Lee (Reader in Social Policy at the University of Kent and director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies) will argue against the rise of ‘neuroparenting’ and explain why it degrades both family autonomy and tarnishes science.

Date, Time and Venue: Tuesday 22 March at 7 PM in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby

Tickets available on Eventbrite.

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Is there a ‘rape culture’ or is it a dangerous myth?

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It is now an accepted view that we live in a society in which misogyny and everyday sexism have created a so-called ‘rape culture’, in which rape is pervasive, under-reported and ignored. Luke Gittos – our speaker – does not believe that the police and the law courts are failing women by failing to convict rapists. On the contrary, he will argue that the obsession with a ‘culture of rape’ has seriously distorted our view of sexual violence, and that the expansion of laws to protect women is eroding areas of privacy and inviting state regulation of our most intimate affairs.

 

This is dangerous for us all – not just men who may find themselves dragged into court following a sexual encounter they believed was consensual. The drive to prosecute (and improve conviction rates against) more and more people has dangerous implications for the fundamental principles of justice, and for basic freedoms. The situation as things stand does no one any favours: it undermines society’s ability to deal adequately with extreme assault, and it undermines our ability to live intimately with one another.

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Can a boy grow up to be a woman?

hermaphroditus4219‘Bruce Jenner, Lana Wachowski and Chelsea Manning all made the news recently by coming out as trans. This wave of high-profile cases prompted feminist campaigner Julie Bindel to condemn the prescription of hormone blockers to prospective trans kids as ‘child abuse’. She was widely censured as a result.
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East Midlands Salon Programme Spring 2016

microphoneThe East Midlands Salon Programme for the New Year brings ‘controversial views’ to Derby. Please put these dates in your diary:

Tuesday 26 January 2016 ‘Can a Boy Grow Up To Be a Woman?’ Speaker: Chrissie Daz: cabaret performer, teacher and, author.   Chrissie is currently completing a book on transgender and gender variant identity. Continue reading

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