An Eton teacher who was sacked over a lecture attacking ‘radical feminist orthodoxy’ has said ‘controversy is essential’ in education and claimed he’s received support from Tory ministers.
Will Knowland was removed from his role at the prestigious Berkshire school after posting a lecture on Youtube challenging so-called modern feminist views about ‘toxic masculinity’.
The lecture, in which the English teacher quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’, was prepared for older pupils at the £42,500-a-year school.
But he was sacked after he repeatedly refused requests from the college’s head master Simon Henderson to take the video down.
The video, called the Patriarchy paradox, has since been viewed more than 100,000 times.
But now Mr Knowland, who last year lost his appeal against his sacking, has now claimed he has been backed by Tory ministers – though he refused to say which ones.
Will Knowland was removed from his role at the prestigious Berkshire private school after posting a lecture on Youtube challenging so-called modern feminist views about ‘toxic masculinity’
The lecture, in which the English teacher quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’, was prepared for older pupils at the £42,500-a-year school (pictured)
Students launch nationwide campaign to champion free speech
Students are launching a nationwide project to champion free speech in universities over fears that debate is being stifled in favour of woke culture.
It aims to address a free-speech crisis on campuses and encourage the young to embrace wide-ranging opinions without the fear of saying the ‘wrong’ thing.
The news comes after a survey found more than a quarter of students censored their own views on politics or ethical matters, and 40 per cent believed their careers would be harmed if they expressed their true thoughts.
There have also been concerns over speakers at universities being boycotted – or ‘no-platformed’ – because of views the student body finds unpalatable.
Oxford historian Selina Todd has been no-platformed for alleged anti-transgender views, and teacher Will Knowland was sacked from Eton last year for refusing to remove an online lecture on ‘toxic masculinity’.
The new students’ Free Speech Champions project is backed by the Free Speech Union set up by commentator Toby Young and the Battle Of Ideas charity.
He said: ‘To help you understand what that orthodox narrative is, the boys are given half-day training sessions by an external organisations called the ‘Good Lad Initiative’ and that has been described by one of its former members as ‘encouraging boys to seem themselves through a prism of toxic masculinity and dysfunction.
‘Now I don’t think it is fair and responsible to encourage boys to see themselves in this way exclusively.
‘I think it’s fair for them to consider the arguments regarding toxic masculinity but they should also be given counter arguments.
‘The aim (of my video) was to provide a counter weight to what they are normally taught on this topics.’
Mr Knowland, a father-of-five, was asked if the lecture was worth losing his job over, prompting him to reply: ‘Controversy is essential to any form of education, it is the clash of ideas that education really depends upon. It’s something if you take away fundamentally leaves education lacking in the most important respect.’
But he was also forced to defend himself over claims in his video that male-on-male rape in prisons outnumbered male-to-female rape outside of jails.
The claims were criticised as incorrect by charities and led some people who initially backed Mr Knowland to pull back their support.
‘I don’t think those figures belittle female rape, it doesn’t belittle rape at all, if anything it draws greater attention to the problem that rape is, whether male on male or male on female rape, is a real issue.’
He had earlier said his sacking put the exclusive school’s ‘soul at risk’.
Last month scores of Old Etonians threatened to withhold £2million in funding from the elite school unless Mr Henderson, often referred to as ‘Trendy Hendy,’ resigns.
Mr Knowland, a father-of-five, was asked if the lecture was worth losing his job over, prompting him to reply: ‘Controversy is essential to any form of education.’
Tory peer Lord Bellingham, a former pupil at the Berkshire college, warned a dining club of 45 alumni were incensed by the sacking.
In a letter to Eton College, Lord Bellingham said Mr Henderson’s ‘woeful handling of this issue’ has further damaged his ‘very shaky’ authority and inflicted ‘very severe reputational damage’ on the school.
In December, the school’s governing body upheld the decision to sack Mr Knowland, following an appeal hearing chaired by Princes William and Harry’s ex-housemaster.
Mr Henderson told parents in a letter that Mr Knowland’s sacking was ‘regrettable’ and called on staff to ‘continue positive dialogue between those who hold opposing views’.
Meanwhile, the Free Speech Union described the ruling as a ‘betrayal’ of the school’s history and vowed to take the fight to Parliament.
Mr Knowland is now raising funds to take his case to court.
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