WHY RICHARD DAWKINS WOULD NOT TEACH SCIENCE AT FBS: WE ONLY APPOINT GOOD SCIENTISTS!
Teacher recruitment and retention is one of the big issues facing schools today, particularly in London. Which is why groups and organizations now applying to open new free schools have to demonstrate a proven track record in recruiting and retaining outstanding teachers.
At FBS, we are very proud of our recruitment and retention rates. We’re now in our fifth year and since opening only 5 teachers have left us, either because they have moved out of London or for promotion. It is something we work hard on as we believe it is vital to have outstanding teachers if we are to realize our ambition of being among the best schools in the country – state or private.
As a free school we have, and use, the freedom to appoint unqualified teachers and train them up ourselves – the FBS way. Three of our best teachers have been unqualified. When we interviewed them, we were struck by their great subject knowledge and saw a natural talent that we were keen to hone and develop. When we look at our teaching team we have great confidence, especially as we embark on our inaugural sixth form. Every department and subject area with strong A Level expertise.
We’ll be bringing in more staff for September as our pupil numbers continue to expand. One of the departments we’ll be further strengthening is Science as many of our boys are keen to study the sciences at A Level. We will be looking for someone who is an outstanding practitioner, can bring out the best in boys and is a really good scientist. This is why Professor Richard Dawkins would not be appointed; quite frankly, I don’t think he’s a very good scientist
The professor has recently branched out into children’s literature to ‘protect them from religion’. Following on from his lively science book for children, ‘The Magic of Reality’, next year he publishes ‘Outgrowing God’ for teens, and he is doing a picture book for younger children with realistic illustrations of “the horrific parts of the Bible”. Indoctrinating children is wicked says Dawkins, “I want to present them with evidence”, he says.
But is he scientific in this approach? He has vociferous critics and some of his former intellectual allies, even, now question his science. He is no longer looking at the evidence scientifically but with a deep bias. For example, the prominent non-believer and philosopher John Gray is quoted in the Guardian as saying “Dawkins imagines an atheist is bound to be an enemy of religion, but there is no necessary connection between atheism and hostility to religion”, that his “unquestioned view of the world” excludes any alternative interpretation. Not good science. It seems to me that Dawkins’ particular brand of atheism has gone from ‘non belief’ to ‘hatred’, with this hatred now blinding his scientific reason. It isn’t that Dawkins doesn’t believe in God he most certainly does; he just hates him! As Libby Purves (@LIB_THINKS ) commented in The Times on Monday 27th August, Dawkins’ “irritable atheism swings to its own extreme… his ceaseless rude denunciations may cause hostility to science itself”.
I agree with Dawkins that indoctrinating children is wicked. So stop doing it professor! Again, like Dawkins, I am keen to present our boys with evidence; but all of it, not some of it, and none of it coloured by bias and prejudice. As Winston Churchill said, ‘True genius resides in the capacity for the evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information’. I want to walk into science labs at FBS and find boys (and teachers) who question, challenge, explore, analyse and consider, critically, absolutely everything. I don’t want FBS boys to just accept things because everyone else does. I want FBS boys to be risk takers, discoverers, courageous, unafraid of making mistakes or going against the crowd, showing the ability to back up their views with reasoned arguments, kindness and respect. Be that evaluating the theory of creationism or that of evolution.
The Education secretary Damian Hinds said recently that he thinks alternatives to the theory of evolution must be presented, allowing for critical assessment in schools. At FBS we believe it is the role of a school to make students question and think openly, not be blinded by bias.
So, Professor Dawkins, if you can overcome your bias and one day decide on the teaching profession in a school context, then please apply! But if you can’t, you’ll never be able to teach science at FBS. We only want good scientists!