Young people should not be dismissed as “woke” and adults who feel unable to say certain things because of political correctness must accept “times have changed”, a leading private school head has warned.
Samantha Price, the headmistress of Benenden School in Kent and the president of the Girls’ School Association – which counts more than 100 girls’ private schools among its members – criticised adults who mock young people for being “woke”, “snowflakes” or for promoting “cancel culture”.
In a speech at the GSA conference in Manchester on Monday, she is due to laud young people for embracing the Black Lives Matter movement, along with campaigns related to sexual harassment, gender identity and climate change.
“It is fair to say that these are themes that our students are genuinely very anxious about, that they feel a responsibility to address and expect us to lead and support them in this” she will say. “There is a sense more than ever that they will be inheriting this world from our generation, and it is their responsibility to fix it.”
In the speech, she is expected to say that “every generation believes that the older generation does not understand them”.
“In recent years there have been many references to this generation being ‘woke’ – meant in a derogatory sense – and adults commenting that they feel today’s teenagers are speaking a different language to them and that they can’t say anything without being corrected or ‘called out’ by these politically correct – or ‘woke’ – children.
“To a certain extent, as parents and school leaders, we can probably all relate to this in some way or other, but I am getting a little weary of hearing the older generation say, ‘you can’t say anything anymore’. The fact is that times have changed, and we simply need to keep up with them.
“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.”
She will add: “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.”