A piece published in the Telegraph three days ago:
Dr Luke Martin, who teaches Divinity at the college, recently stood down from his role as the Master in Charge of Perspectives
An Eton College Master has resigned his position in protest and broken ranks to attack the school’s “indoctrination” of students, The Telegraph can reveal.
Dr Luke Martin, who teaches Divinity at the 580-year-old institution, recently stood down from his role as the Master in Charge of Perspectives and said he is beginning to “lose faith” in Eton’s ability to promote independent thinking among its pupils.
His intervention came as the row over free speech deepened with parents as well as pupils and Old Etonians said to be increasingly troubled by the school’s handling of events.
The Telegraph revealed last week that Will Knowland was dismissed for gross misconduct after recording a lecture which questioned “current radical feminist orthodoxy”.
The lecture was part of the Perspectives course taken by older students to encourage them to think critically about subjects of public debate. Mr Knowland alleged that he was banned from delivering the lecture to pupils and then dismissed after he refused to remove a video of the lecture from his personal YouTube channel. Eton College has said that the dismissal was “not a matter of free speech” and instead one of “internal discipline”.
But in a letter to the school’s vice provost, Dr Andrew Gailey, seen by The Telegraph, Dr Martin insists that “free speech and independence of thought” are at the heart of the matter.
He said he has become aware of a “worrying trend” over the past few years at Eton College, which he has previously raised with both the Head Master and Lower Master.
“There is a growing promotion of a so-called ‘progressive’ ideology, that claims to be inclusive, tolerant, and kind. This ideology is, of course, present in other institutions,” he explained.
“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.”
Dr Martin said he believes Eton is “moving towards a point where it will be accurate to say that they are trying to indoctrinate their students into this worldview”.
He added that since Mr Knowland’s dismissal his concerns about “the prospect of indoctrination” have returned.
Dr Martin went on to tell the vice-provost that the dismissal has had a “disheartening” effect on the rest of Eton’s Masters.
“The question for some of us is: if [Will Knowland] was disciplined for expressing unorthodox views, might I be next?” the letter said.
“I am beginning to lose faith in the college’s commitment to one of its core aims: that of promoting the best habits of independent thinking in the boys.”
Last week Eton pupils published a petition which accused the school of “institutional bullying” claiming that it was a “gross abuse of the duty of the school to protect the freedoms of the individual”.
The petition, which has been widely circulated among current and former pupils, has so far amassed over 2,300 signatures but Dr Martin’s letter is the first time that a current Master at Eton College has spoken out.
His letter has been shared widely among parents, with one source saying: “They are getting more vocal about this now. But there would need to be a critical mass of support [for Mr Knowland] for them to speak to the school.”
Mr Knowland’s internal appeal against the Head Master’s decision to sack him is due to be heard next week and a crowdfunding page has so far raised more than £50,000 to cover his legal costs for a potential employment tribunal if the appeal panel does not rule in his favour.
The vice-provost will chair Mr Knowland’s appeal panel after the provost recused himself on the basis that he publicly backed the Head Master.
A spokesman for Eton College said: “Once again, there are attempts to conduct or influence the College’s disciplinary process in public rather than via the proper procedures.
“This letter has been received by the Vice-Provost. As he will chair the appeal hearing it is not therefore appropriate for us to comment further.”
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