Adults shouldn't dismiss 'woke' students, top head teacher warns

22 November 2021, 00:22

Labelling students 'woke' could lead to them giving up on campaigns, it has been warned.
Labelling students 'woke' could lead to them giving up on campaigns, it has been warned. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Dismissing "woke" children will lead to them giving up on important equality and sustainability campaigns, a leading head has warned.

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All schools should host talks with parents on inclusion, diversity and gender to help them understand the "new language" of the younger generation, according to Samantha Price, head of Benenden School in Kent.

Mrs Price, president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA), will call on school leaders to challenge anyone who dismisses the younger generation as "woke", "cancel culture" or "snowflakes" at her organisation's annual conference.

She is set to criticise the references being used in a derogatory sense, while adults complain that they cannot say anything without being "called out" by young people.

"I think that if [children] are consistently dismissed in this way then what will happen is that they will just give up," she said.

"As they go into their 20s and into further maturity, what was such a passion for them when they were younger will end up just going by the wayside.

"Therefore, we probably won't see the level of progress in society - from sustainability through to equality - that I think we have the opportunity to be able to see and sustain now if we, our generation, handle this effectively."

Read more: John Cleese pulls out of Cambridge University talk over 'woke rules'

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It comes as young people have become more vocal, in recent years, over matters that hold a particular importance to them. For example, Black Lives Matter and Everyone's Invited gained momentum during the pandemic.

At the recent COP26 climate summit, thousands of young people also took to the streets, demanding action on the crisis that will impact their generation.

In her speech to over 100 heads from across the country, Mrs Price will say: "It would be unforgivable for the older generation to close its mind to new ideas, to retreat to 'the good old days' and dismiss the energetic changes of this generation as something to be referred to in derogatory tones and sighs.

"What has really struck me is that this so-called 'woke' generation are actually simply young people who care about things: about causes, about the planet, about people.

"It ultimately comes down to something very simple: being kind."