Teachers avoid human rights ‘hot potato’, expert says

Teachers in Scotland avoid the “hot potato” of human rights because they learn little or nothing about it at university, according to an expert who fears that their views are shaped by the tabloid media instead.

Even those who do venture into the area may be discouraged by senior colleagues, while some new teachers believe that children “have too many rights”.

“The majority of [teaching] students will…complete their degree programmes with little, or perhaps even no, knowledge and understanding of teaching in this area,” said Alison Struthers, of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Human Rights in Practice.

She also highlights failings in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, where mentions of human rights are “relatively sparse”.

The result, says Ms Struthers, is “piecemeal” teaching. She believes that competence in human rights should be a precondition of becoming a qualified teacher.

Ms Struthers, writing in the latest Scottish Educational Review, also finds that even students with a passion for human rights education may find themselves discouraged in schools.

This is an edited version of an article in the 8 January edition of TESS. Subscribers can view the full version of this story here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. The magazine is available in all good newsagents.

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