I explained this in terms of the old guard of teachers in those departments. These teachers had typically gone to uni at the height of student radicalism in the early 1970s. They were lefty true believers and very political. It was difficult to challenge them because they were so fiercely committed to political leftism as a world view. But they were on the verge of retirement. My hope was that things would improve after they left and a new generation of teachers replaced them.
And nearly all of those teachers have now retired. But, if anything, things have gotten worse not better.
Why? The problem now is the mummy teacher. The mummy teacher is a very nice person. She bakes for students and staff. She hugs the students and calls them "dear" and "darling". She gives them cards in little decorated envelopes. She is a feminine creature and very "emotionally empathetic".
In a family setting that would be an undoubted virtue. Who would not want to be loved by a mother like that? But what is a virtue at home can be a vice at school.
The mummy teacher is not very political. Sometimes she is not political at all. But she is addicted to issues of white racism. It is what drives her commitment to teaching. She needs it and feeds off it. It is her constant obsession.
I've pondered this for some time now. I've come to believe that the mummy teacher obsesses over issues of white racism for two reasons. First, it creates a powerful emotional moment for her. She can create an emotionally charged journey for herself and her students by studying the holocaust, or lynchings, or apartheid, or refugees or Aborigines.
She does not find this journey unpleasant. She likes to get emotional. Ordinary life does not afford her the opportunity to experience her emotions as she would like to. It is something she looks forward to, the way that some women might enjoy getting caught up emotionally in a romance novel.
It seems natural to her to choose to focus on such things. Why would she focus instead on, say, the creation of Ancient Greek civilisation? What depth of emotion is there for her in that? And why would she focus on correct usage of grammar? Again, how would that motivate the career of a highly emotionally empathetic woman? She might as well stay home with the kids - there would be a greater emotional experience in that. If she's going to come to school, she has to have what seems to her a worthwhile reason to do so.
And what is the second reason for her obsession with the holocaust, apartheid, refugees, the civil rights movement etc. Experiencing life as a highly empathetic woman, she wants to mould her students to be the same. She assumes that the point of teaching history and English is to instill empathy in her students. To identify emotionally with the "other" becomes the ultimate educational aim of both English and history.
For that reason, what she enjoys most is teaching students to create "emotionally persuasive" arguments in their class presentations. And she does not shy away from encouraging students to adopt a stance of advocacy rather than one of dispassionate analysis of the facts.
The result is that white communities, already suffering from a lack of self-belief, get hammered over and over in the school curriculum. And not by radical liberals, but by emotionally feminine women.
What can we do about this? I would suggest the following:
a) Ideally traditionalists would set up independent schools. In Australia close to half of students already attend independent schools.
b) It would help if more men were encouraged to become English and history teachers. That's not an automatic solution: there are plenty of "soft liberal" men in the education system. But the more men, the less likely it is that the feminisation of English and history will run out of control.
c) We need to set out clearly an alternative view of what the teaching of English and history aims to achieve. There doesn't have to be one single aim. The study of history, for instance, might aim to encourage a sense of connectedness to a longstanding tradition; it might set out to encourage an appreciation of art and culture; it might aim to develop analytical writing skills; it might aim to equip students with sufficient general knowledge to take part in educated conversation; it might aim as well to encourage an interest or inquisitiveness in the past and a sense of its relevance to people today.
d) We can encourage parents to take up the role neglected at school by teaching their children about the history and culture of their own tradition. This can be done through books, films, projects, trips to historic sites, family trees and family histories etc.
e) Even a small group of traditionalists could run an after hours programme, offering informal courses in history and culture. Alternatively, a small group of traditionalists could commission books and resources and make them available to parents.
f) We can encourage parents to be careful in looking over the history and English programmes when considering schools for their children. Parents can ask which books and films are analysed at different year levels. If they are mostly about white racism, then parents could opt for a different school.
Finally, to finish on a positive note, there's a story in the Daily Mail today about plans to encourage parents to visit local history sites with their children:
Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: ‘In the high street, the housing estate, the park, riverside and field, every town, city and village is full of places in which significant events have taken place.
‘We want every child, their parents and teachers to enjoy and take pride in the heritage of their local area.’