‘Give me a child at an impressionable age'

Interesting article here from Bernard Moffat, Public Relations Officer for Mannin Branch of the Celtic League. It follows the news that a group called Isle of Man Freethinkers are donating copies of a book called 'What is Humanism? How do you live without a god?' to schools on the Isle of Man:

‘Give Me A Child At An Impressionable Age'

As if life for Island schoolchildren isn’t confusing enough they are according to this article in the newspaper going to be gifted a tone or two by a body called Isle of Man Freethinkers.


The story interested me for a number of reasons. For a start I don’t think there is enough freethinking on the Island and come to ‘think’ about it if Howard Quayle has the same attitude to ‘freethinking’ as he does to Facebook I would imagine the government are not that moved by the thought.

After all I suppose some social media sites are the ultimate expression of freethinking especially the one’s that let all and sundry give collective expression to their views.

I’m not at all impressed by God because some of the things he will (if he exists) have sent both my way and the way of others over the years. Back in my school days however the ‘Christian’ god was a given and no morning assembly was complete without him and we sang his virtues with gusto.

However in recent years ‘faith’ has been undergoing an equal opportunities trajectory and I can recall my late wife (a school teacher of some commitment) preparing for multi-denominational assemblies by researching the backgrounds of different faiths to the accompaniment of much sneering from me – until I was put firmly ‘back in my box’.

Although a non believer herself she felt children should be able to have all the beliefs and viewpoints placed in front of them.

To be honest I’m not sure. I don’t think religion should have a place in schools at all or for that matter something from an organisation called ‘Isle of Man Freethinkers’. I mean think about it to have an ‘organisation’ of freethinkers seems to be a contradiction in terms.

I note also the article is accompanied by a picture of Juan Watterson lookalike – the film actor Daniel Pullman it says that Pullman (aka Harry Potter) has contributed to it so he’s a ‘freethinker’ then. But why is it suggested even indirectly that this should be a plus? Is this a bit of concealed propaganda? A kind of personality placement to enhance ‘freethinking’ like George Clooney does for beverages in those coffee ads.

I’m sure all the ‘Isle of Man Pullman Freethinkers’ are very nice ‘open-minded’ people but I think a better way to engage with schoolchildren would be to let them make there own view as I did over the concept of ‘a supreme being’. It took a bit of time but at least it was a concept of my own freethinking.

It seems that these ‘freethinkers’ are somewhat contradictory because with this move they are following the Miss Jean Brodie path and DfEC are a sort of ‘Marcia Blaine’ academy:

“Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life”.

I wonder to about what the score is with the Department for Education and Children in all this. They seem to have embraced ‘freethinking’ so does this mean there’s a ‘freethinking’ lobby abroad in St George’s Court.

How do the DfEC quantify what is acceptable in schools. I mean years ago there was a furious debate and hostility to allowing education to focus on gay issues which arguably are matters concerning issues which are critically important to the lives of children both in terms of their own sexuality and the attitude they have towards others.

At the other end of the scale there was a positive welcome given to military recruitment bodies that come ‘banging their drums’ around Island schools yet I don’t recall the DfEC engaging with Mec Vannin which opposes the practice.

The acceptance of the Isle of Man Freethinkers books into schools suggests to me that they are not ‘freethinkers’ at all but they are an accepted part of the establishment. Of course I may be wrong but then again it’s just my ‘thoughts; on the matter!

Image: Maggie Smith as Miss Jean Brodie.

Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch

Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.


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