A teacher at Eton College has attacked the ‘progressive ideology’ that he feels pupils are being ‘indoctrinated’ with at the elite school.
Dr Luke Martin has resigned from his role as head of ‘perspectives’ classes after his colleague Will Knowland was sacked over a controversial lecture on gender roles intended for one of these lessons.
The theology teacher, who is still teaching at the school, accused Head Master Simon Henderson of presiding over an atmosphere of ‘religious fundamentalism’, where deviations can lead to mockery or ‘formal discipline’.
Will Knowland was sacked over a controversial lecture on gender roles intended for one of these lessons.
Eton College, pictured, has been accused of ‘religious fundamentalism’ after a teacher was sacked for planning to deliver a ‘questionable lecture’ to pupils
Mr Knowland, an English teacher, had wanted to deliver a questionable lecture to boys in which he cited incorrect statistics about rape and approvingly quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’.
The talk, called the Patriarchy Paradox, was never used in a class but was uploaded to Mr Knowland’s personal YouTube page, where there is also a video of him weightlifting.
Mr Knowland refused to take down the video and was sacked, but has since raised tens of thousands of pounds to support an employment tribunal.
Many pupils are demanding his reinstatement, including a boy who was sent home after writing to Mr Henderson demanding that the head resign.
But other figures, including Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who initially supported Mr Knowland, have distanced themselves after being told the actual content of his lecture.
Dr Martin, in his letter posted online by a supporter of Mr Knowland, said he was resigning from leading perspectives classes.
He said he did not agree with Mr Knowland’s remarks, but added: ‘Why should I? The point of perspectives is that boys are exposed to various perspectives, some of which they will disagree with.’
He said that Mr Knowland had expected another member of staff to give a talk offering the opposite point of view, but a female teacher had ‘declined the invitation’.
Eton headmaster Simon Henderson. The decision to sack Mr Knowland was taken by a disciplinary panel that Mr Henderson does not sit on
Dr Martin argued that Mr Henderson was overseeing a ‘worrying trend’ at the £42,500-a-year school, which counts princes William and Harry among its old boys.
He added: ‘There is a growing promotion of a so-called “progressive” ideology, that claims to be inclusive, tolerant, and kind.
‘But what has dawned on me over the last few years is that it is remarkably similar, in a particular respect, to the forms of religious fundamentalism that I’m familiar with. If you disagree with it, you’re excluded; if you think differently, you’re not tolerated; and if you raise objections, you’re mocked or face formal discipline.
‘I’ve become increasingly concerned that some schools, including Eton, are moving towards a point where it will be accurate to say that they are trying to indoctrinate their students into this worldview’.
Dr Martin went on to call for Mr Knowland’s reinstatement. In an open letter, Mr Knowland said: ‘I made a stand for my freedom to express information but also, and more importantly, for the boys’ freedom to receive it.’
Eton firmly denies that the case is an attack on free speech, but relates more directly to discipline among employees and preserving the reputation of the school.
The school also pointed out that the decision to sack Mr Knowland was taken by a disciplinary panel that the headmaster doesn’t sit on.
An Eton spokesman said Dr Martin’s letter had been received by the vice-provost, who is chairing Mr Knowland’s appeal hearing. Dr Martin could not be reached for comment.