A new teaching resource has come under fire for advising British kids as young as seven to “write a letter to a terrorist” to understand their motives.
The guide, Talking About Terrorism, is aimed at helping students to understand the threat of terrorism, and attempts to explain the reasons behind terrorist acts.
“Structured in a question and answer format, ‘Talking About Terrorism: Responding to Children’s Questions’ will help teachers to face the most difficult questions children ask. Parents will also find it invaluable,” reads the book’s description.
The teaching resource was published just weeks before the Manchester Arena suicide bombing and describes the mass murder of civilians as a “type of war”, according to The Daily Express.
It teaches that one reason why some people commit mass murder is because they believe they are being treated “unfairly and not shown respect”.
The guide then gives historical examples of “terrorists” whose ideas were deemed extreme, but later turned out to be progressive.
“The Suffragettes used violence and were called terrorists … ” the guide suggests. “Today many people think of them as brave women and admire their struggle for the right to vote.”
The book also suggests teachers a range of activities for children aged seven to 11.
In on activity, for example, teachers are advised to “invite children to write a letter to a terrorist. If they could ask a terrorist six questions, what would they be?”
The resource has come under fire from education groups, slamming it as “a crackpot idea” and “dangerous”.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, told the paper that the task asking young children to write a letter to a terrorist could confuse and upset students.
“This a crackpot idea based on the misguided notion that primary school children must engage with, and show ‘respect’ for, religious fanatics who are seeking to kill them.
“It is part of the ‘British Values’ agenda that is being forced on schools by Ofsted and the educational establishment. The primary school classroom is not the place to humanise terrorism by ‘pretend dialogue’.”
McGovern added that by urging children to “understand” terrorists’ motivation, the resource actually invites sympathy for them, while comparing terrorists with the Suffragettes and Nelson Mandela could lead to thinking that terrorism could be justified.
A Brilliant Publications spokesperson told Heat Street that in response to the Manchester terrorist attack, the book won’t be promoted in schools, despite requests from schools.
“As the publishers of the book, were horrified by the events in Manchester, just a week after we published the title.
“Because of the attack in Manchester we have not marketed or promoted the book into schools at all, out of respect for the victims and their families,” said the spokesperson.
The publisher added that the book was written because they “had many requests from schools for materials that teachers could use to help younger pupils to understand this difficult and challenging subject.”