Absurdism, Books

The Strange Murder of Emile Durkheim

Education news.

AQA, the largest exam board in the UK, has dropped the theme of suicide from its Sociology A-level syllabus from September. Rupert Sheard, qualifications manager, said the AQA had to exercise a duty towards students taking the course and “make sure the content isn’t going to cause them undue distress.”

What splendid news. We should do more to sanitise course material and insulate 17 and 18 year olds from the fact that society can be disturbing and distressing. They should instead be prepared to be integrated into a infantilised, distress-free world of sunshine and happiness. Emile Durkheim, in the seminal sociology text Suicide (1897), which of course will now no longer be referred to in the classroom, wrote that suicide was a result of an individual’s lack of integration in society and was socially determined. Since austerity there has been a significant increase in suicide rates in Greece; Durkheim would have called these anomic suicides. Durkheim also argued that there is a consistent relationship between amassing wealth and suicide. Students in England and Wales should be quarantined from these interesting ideas. I hope that studies of racism, domestic violence and sexual crime will be likewise removed from study. Perhaps they could watch the Disney channel instead? Durkheim had a theory that music creates society; the theme tune from M*A*S*H* should be digitally altered before transmission of course.

Further I propose to Rupert Sheard that the Holocaust should no longer be taught during history A-level because the Nazis (if they did anything) caused “undue distress”, particularly towards the end. The one text that should be removed from the religious studies A-level is The Bible, which has some very distressing scenes, particularly in the beginning. For that matter shifting tectonic plates are a big worry; Geography A-level could surely be made stress-free by their expulsion.

Education should not, under any circumstances, be used as an excuse for educating young people.

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