Critical scrutiny of military ethos initiatives continues
An example of how critical scrutiny of the Military Ethos in Schools programme is being sustained from people outside of ForcesWatch, comes from an Institute of Education conference in February 2015, where Victoria Basham, senior lecturer in Politics at Exeter University, gave a critical overview of the Department for Education’s Military Ethos in Schools programme.
Victoria made several key points:
* there is very little evidence as to why a ‘military ethos’ is good for UK schoolchildren
* the military have traditionally stated their need to be different from civilians, given their unique role of using armed force. Is it convincing that they can now fit into the education system in an acceptable way?
* there is a long list of workers in other organisations that exemplify and imbue values of hard work, teamwork, leadership, etc. Moreover, other values such as creativity, and questioning/critical thinking are being overlooked by the military ethos approach, which means that it is reinforcing a two-tier education system (though it is worth noting that the military ethos alternative provision organisation Commando Joe’s, who work with children as young as five, have the motto ‘No Child Left Behind’, and have recently stated their intention to work with all students – not just the most disadvantaged)
* any students that join the armed forces as a result of military ethos initiatives will almost definitely join as ‘other ranks’, with higher risks associated than commissioned officers
In the questions and discussion that followed Victoria’s talk, one teacher, a Navy reservist, said that they were sceptical of the Troops to Teachers scheme, given the different approaches to discipline in the military and schools. Other contributions pointed to the current hardships of teaching, with its exhausting workloads.