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The headteacher at “Britain’s strictest school” says she has faced calls for her to be fired after claiming children are born with “original sin” and must be taught how to be good.
Katharine Birbalsingh, co-founder of Michaela Community School, in Wembley sparked a Twitter storm after writing that children needed to be “habituated into choosing good over evil”.
The government’s social mobility advisor claimed that Twitter mobs had “demanded my head on a platter” and called for her to be fired after making the comments.
A Liberal Democrat Baroness hit back at her saying no child was “born hating others” whilst others called her “crazy” and bemoaned the mixing of religious theory in school.
The head replied to critics: “If children are left to it, they will not learn anything, including moral behaviour. They need to be taught. Toddlers fight over toys until they are shown how to share. They learn gratitude or sacrifice when taught. This is not inside them.”
She added: “Many are demanding my head on a platter.”“These people are demanding my job, throwing insults and all the while insist we are not flawed as human beings! You could not make this stuff up!”
The Twitter storm was started by a tweet to Birbalsingh which read: “We are all born ‘bad’, that is why it is so important to be morally educated and not just conditioned.”
Birbalsingh replied: “Exactly. Original Sin. Children need to be taught right from wrong and then habituated into choosing good over evil. That requires love and constant correction from all the adults in their lives over YEARS. Moral formation is a good thing.”
Baroness Hussein-Ece, a Lib Dem peer, waded into the debate, saying: “While agree no one is perfect, no child is born hating others, racist & evil. These things are taught or learned by example. I don’t need to quote from any scripture to form the view that love, support & nurturing are key.”
Birbalsingh replied: “Adam and Eve ate an apple. Were they racist? No. Were they evil? No. Did they hate others? Well no one else was about so . . . They are flawed. That’s it.”
Exactly. Original Sin.
Children need to be taught right from wrong and then habituated into choosing good over evil.
That requires love and constant correction from all the adults in their lives over YEARS.
Moral formation is a good thing. 👍🏽 https://t.co/dAg3Q8Kg0t
— Katharine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy) October 27, 2021
Neil Gray, an SNP MSP, added: “Children are not born bad. Children are born good & I would suggest trauma, poverty, [Adverse Childhood Experiences] & negative influences of adults are what drive negative behaviour into adulthood. We must nurture & protect our children not stigmatise them from birth.”
Economist Frances Coppola replied to the original Tweet: “The notion that children are “born bad” has been used to justify terrible abuse. Very worrying to see a high-profile head teacher using it. She may not be an abuser herself, but her endorsement of this toxic belief empowers people who are.”
Ms Birbalsingh was made chairwoman of the Social Mobility Commission after previous head, Dame Martina Milburn, resigned in May last year, telling Boris Johnson the role needed expanding to effectively tackle inequality issues.
She has been praised by Liz Truss for maintaining “high standards” as the founder and head of Michaela Community School in north London, a free school which has been described as Britain’s strictest school.
Birbalsingh’s school insists that the “adult is the authority in the classroom” with children made to walk corridors in single file and in silence.