An R.E. lesson

I’ve found a page on teacher net where the faith schools have got together to issue a statement about how necessary they are, including a proud claim that they promote community cohesion.

This is my main objection to faith schools. I don’t really care that much – except because of an obscure moral objection to lying to kids – that they teach nonsense. If school students actually paid attention to anything they were told in school it would be a novelty. I assume most of the tosh gets ignored, when it’s not required for a test, and regurgitated verbatim, without passing through the brain, when it is.

I do object to kids getting separated out into religious camps, so they grow up to see other kids as the enemy. Kids are really good at fitting into a peer group and defining non-peers as the enemy. Generally, a lot better than they are at listening to what the teachers say.

(In fact, if anything, faith schools, particularly Catholic schools, seem really good at turning out atheists. Ask any non-believer who’s been taught by priests and nuns about their schools. You will usually feel you’ve been floored as collateral damage, as a result of the tsunami of anger that splashes out.)

What do the temporarily-unified faith schools present as arguments then?

The social inclusion page lists a school that take in traveller kids and lots of schools that take in special needs or school-excluded kids and have kids from other faiths. Hmm. I just assumed all schools did that. So I read some more pages and finally realise what they are saying – “We don’t just teach kids from our own religion.” So these are just multi-ethnic community resources then?

Well, why? Why have a religious school if you aren’t going to teach the religion. Maybe they don’t anymore? Hmm.
The Catholic community websites will put you straight there. It still seems to be a religious obligation to educate your kids as Catholics, if you are one.

Catholic parents have the right and duty to choose those means, in their local circumstances, which best promote the Catholic education of their children. Parents should send their children to those schools which provide for their children’s Catholic education. If they cannot do this, they are bound to ensure the proper Catholic education of their children outside the school. Where, despite all the efforts that have been made to provide a Catholic school, no suitable school is available, parents should seek help from the parish clergy and catechists to assist them in their duty to their children

So, as a Catholic, if you don’t send your kids to the Church school, you’ll be bothered in your own time by people trying to teach your kids the religious stuff. Sounds like a threat of being invaded by God-botherers if you don’t just let the kids take the flak for you by going to the school.

This certainly confirms that they are in fact teaching the Catholic stuff in school, along with the reading and geography, doesn’t it?

The more laidback Church of England lays less stress on the religious aspect but still refers to it as the historical basis on which it has these schools.

When it was founded in 1811, the National Society’s aim was that “the National Religion should be made the foundation of National Education”: education for all, firmly based on the Christian Gospel and Anglican principles

The UK Islamic education site is reduced to complaining about not getting a cut of the huge sums allocated to faith schools. Which is a fair point.

The upbringing of Muslim children, whether in state schools and local madrasahs or in full-time Muslim Schools, is an issue which should concern every Muslim…YOU pay for:

  • State funded Church of England schools
  • State funded Roman Catholic schools
  • State funded Methodist school
  • State funded Jewish schools

Who pays for Muslim schools?

I just feel that this is a case for saying – well, that applies to me, too. Who pays for atheist schools? Well no one, because of course there aren’t any. But that means I’m paying most of the cost of kids going to C of E (Episcopalian to you Americans), Catholic and Jewish schools, even to one lonely Methodist school, it appears. Why?

I am pleased that these schools are aiming to be less divisive. Though, I can’t feel that subjecting kids to religious propaganda that’s different from what they hear at home is a great leap forwards in community integration.

It would be even less divisive if schools were just schools. If only the Sunday schools got to do the faith teaching stuff, and parents had to sort that out in their own time and out of their own pockets.

I bet the ranks of the people who feel their kids somehow need this religious teaching would fall quite dramatically.

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