A Scottish secondary school will remove classic novels addressing racism and rural poverty from its curriculum in the name of "decolonising" education.
Allan Crosbie, English curriculum leader at James Gillespie's high school in Edinburgh, called Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men "problematical" and said they should discarded in the name of "decolonising" education.
"Probably like every English department in the country, we still have Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird [on] the shelves," he said in a speech at trade union the Educational Institute of Scotland's AGM.
"They are now taught less frequently because those novels are dated and problematical in terms of decolonising the curriculum," Crosbie asserted, claiming: "Their lead characters are not people of colour".
"The representation of people of colour is dated, and the use of the N-word and the use of the white saviour motif in Mockingbird — these have led us as a department to decide that these really are not texts we want to be teaching third year anymore," the English teacher said.
Crosbie said more recent works by black authors, such as The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Of Mice and Men deals with the plight of itinerant farm labourers during the Great Depression. The two poor, white protagonists are impelled towards a tragic doom due to the cruelty and callousness of others.
Scottish devolved government education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said curricula were being re-written in the name of "anti-racist education".
"Curriculum Reform will be a key aspect of the programme... to ensure that our education systems and our curriculum are embedding and promoting anti-racism at every opportunity," Somerville said.
But the Scottish Conservatives opposed the move.
"I believe that completely removing certain works from the syllabus would be a mistake," MSP Oliver Mundell said. "Before imposing any form of censorship, we should have a meaningful debate about what the policy for excluding specific books should be".
"Rather than denying children access to specific works of literature, perhaps we should introduce them with a subtext highlighting how times have changed and what we can learn from them," Mundell added. "Schools have the responsibility to educate, not dictate."
And Broadcaster and Workers' Party of Britain leader George Galloway called banning Steinbeck a "crime" a "'woke' cultural vandalism".
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) July 6, 2021