Following her shocking cancellation from a recent education conference, the Free Speech Union (FSU) was delighted to be able to re-platform the debate between Dr Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, director of Don’t Divide Us (DDU), film studies teacher Toby Marshall, Dr Ruth Wareham, lecturer in Philosophy of Education at the University of Birmingham, and John Marrill, teacher of history and politics. The debate took place on Monday 16 October with audience members both ‘in the room’ and online.
Back in September, Dr Sehgal Cuthbert was due to speak on a panel at the Rethinking Education conference in London, debating how we should distinguish education from indoctrination. However, two days before the event Dr Sehgal Cuthbert was notified by the organisers that a handful of delegates had expressed concerns that their ‘psychological safety’ would be undermined by being in her presence, due to the campaigning work of DDU.
Rather than explaining to the complainants that the purpose of the event was to debate challenging educational questions and that no ‘safety’ issues would be posed by Alka, the organisers decided to no-platform her. Commendably, her fellow panellists withdrew from the event in solidarity and the debate was cancelled.
When news of this incident broke, the FSU wrote to the CEO of Rethinking Education, urging him to respect #freespeech and reconsider his decision. The CEO did then issue an apology to Alka — but alas, this was after the conference had ended, which meant that delegates lost the opportunity to hear an open debate on this contested topic.
Thankfully, however, Alka and all three of her ‘psychologically resilient’ fellow panellists agreed to speak at this alternative event organised by the FSU in partnership with DDU and the Academy of Ideas Education Forum.
Watch the debate here: