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to want my child to be free of religion at school?

(230 Posts)
cherryade8 Sat 18-May-13 14:21:15

I've startedlooking at schools and attending open days for my dd. Even the supposedly secular schools teach about religion and seen to have display boards with posters and pupils work explaining the intricacies of each religion.

I'm not religious and don't wish dd to be exposed to more than a cursory explanation of religion at school. What people choose to teach their children outside of school is none of my business, why does the curriculum seem to want to force it on children? It seems to be the case in both state and private schools.

Aibu?

I am a very militant atheist, but I want DS to learn about religions. Especially if, as he gets older, he has teachers who can explain them in terms of the warmongering and misogyny that they fuel, as well as just This is Imaginary Friend A and this is Ritual B.

But I think collective worship has no place at all in schools. Why should kids have their time wasted talking to someone's imaginary friend?

VenusUprising Sat 18-May-13 15:21:13

It's been shown that the brain invents religion at an early age to make sense of the world, and to learn morality. Here's the new scientist God Issue

Explaining death to a toddler without a heaven is a hard job, and leaves very little comfort for the child.

I think the teen years are fine for reevaluation of personal faith system/religion.

Maybe choose a school where the worship isn't so strictly enforced, but religion is a part of our brains, and as such is part of our psychology and moral make up. Why would you want your child to be ignorant of that?

exexpat Sat 18-May-13 15:21:27

I'm an atheist, and while I think compulsory worship in schools should be abolished, I think teaching about religions is a very good thing. I think it promotes tolerance, and possibly encourages children to question the beliefs they are indoctrinated with at home.

If schools did not introduce children to the main ideas of the major religions, they would only ever get to hear about their own family's religion (if any), and since most religions have the view that what every other religion believes is wrong, that tends to be very one-sided. Learning about other religions might encourage an understanding of how much many of them have in common, and also raise the idea that perhaps no one has all the 'right' answers.

Members of very closed, fundamentalist religious groups are usually opposed to teaching RE in schools precisely for this reason - which makes me even more convinced it's a good thing.

scaevola Sat 18-May-13 15:22:17

If OP wants a school at does not follow NC, and does not adhere to the requirement for collective worship (though you can opt your DC out of that bit) then she needs to look in the private sector.

But I've never heard of a private school which does have either (indeed I can't think of one without both). Anyone know if such a place exists?

exexpat Sat 18-May-13 15:28:08

Most private schools are nominally Christian - at least all the ones in my city are. Most say they welcome children of 'all faiths and none', but they do about the same amount of 'worship' and RE as state schools, in my experience. There are a handful of well-known exceptions, eg places like Summerhill School, but they are definitely not the norm.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 18-May-13 15:33:06

Learning about religion is the same as learning about politics or history. YABU to want your child to be uneducated, in a very important subject.

YANBU to want your child to attend a secular school that has no worship/religious practices. Unfortunately these don't exist in the state sector and are hard to come by in the private sector.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 15:34:15

The amount of knowledge a child need on religion could be taught in one lesson, it certainly doesn't need a subject all of its own. Some people believe in fairy tales, very nice, why not have a subject on all the different football teams that people support, it would have the same educational value.

overprotection What a load of nonsense, I'm an atheist, but to deny the huge impact religion has had on our history, art, culture and politics, both negative and positive, and to compare it to football, is incredibly ignorant and naive.

CaramelLatte Sat 18-May-13 15:46:57

My 13 yo dd is an athiest(sp) but her favourite subject is RE. She likes to learn about and understand other people's beliefs.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 15:48:37

RE doesn't cover any of those things, it's basically a load of fairy story nonsense from whatever daft book applies to the religion the school chooses. The important historical events connected with religion are already covered in the History curriculum. Nobody needs to know the parable of the goat with 3 legs that flew Jesus to the top of Mount swizzle stick to collect a lollipop.

raisah Sat 18-May-13 15:49:10

I think it is really important to learn about other faiths, you may not agree with their teachings but the central message in all faiths is quite similar. To learn about other beliefs & practices is the first step to acceptance and understanding. Bigotry & prejudice stem from ignorance and lack of knowledge, the best thing you can do for your child is to instill knowledge.

Just on a basic level, if your child learnt about other faiths they would know that Muslims & Jews do not eat pork. Hindus do not eat beef and that Sikhs, Buddhists & Jains are vegetarian. Quite useful information for birthday parties & general socialising.

Also that not all children celebrate Christmas & Easter from a religious point of view. Knowing why would be useful for your child. My R.E teacher at school was v ignorant & made me stand up during assembly to explain why I did not celebrate Christmas. I said that Muslims regard Jesus as a Prophet not as a son of God & that we believe in his second coming. To which she replied 'No you dont, he belongs to the Christians!' says it all really.

WorraLiberty England Sat 18-May-13 15:52:13

YABU

Why would you want your child to grow up in ignorance of something that's so important to the people she's going to be around in her life?

I believe worship should be kept out of school but not something as important to other people as religion...we should all have a bit of knowledge about it.

And I say that as an atheist.

raisah Sat 18-May-13 15:53:38

I think it is really important to learn about other faiths, you may not agree with their teachings but the central message in all faiths is quite similar. To learn about other beliefs & practices is the first step to acceptance and understanding. Bigotry & prejudice stem from ignorance and lack of knowledge, the best thing you can do for your child is to instill knowledge.

Just on a basic level, if your child learnt about other faiths they would know that Muslims & Jews do not eat pork. Hindus do not eat beef and that Sikhs, Buddhists & Jains are vegetarian. Quite useful information for birthday parties & general socialising.

Also that not all children celebrate Christmas & Easter from a religious point of view. Knowing why would be useful for your child. My R.E teacher at school was v ignorant & made me stand up during assembly to explain why I did not celebrate Christmas. I said that Muslims regard Jesus as a Prophet not as a son of God & that we believe in his second coming. To which she replied 'No you dont, he belongs to the Christians!' says it all really.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 15:58:22

Overprotection RE DOES cover those things when taught well. And anyway if the OP got her way and religion wasn't touched on at all it would make big chunks of history impossible to teach anyway.

Its a shame the OP hasn't come back yet, it would be interesting to see why she wants to her her children from religion and how she thinks that is even going to be possible.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 18-May-13 16:07:31

overprotection I don't know if you're basing your views on your experience of RE or what your DC's are bing taught, but somewhere a teacher is failing. RE should cover all those things, and certainly did when I was at school. We never learnt any specific stories like your example of the 3-legged lollipop goat. It was all about the effect of religion on people's lives and beliefs.

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:15:21

overprotection - you can be an atheist and still be respectful.

cory Sat 18-May-13 16:20:54

I'm a pacifist: do you think I could request that my children shouldn't be taught about war? Because after all, the important thing is not that they should learn about the world around them but that my sensibilities should be protected.

Parajse Sat 18-May-13 16:30:53

The only part of school life in which religion is 'forced' on children as such is assemblies in which prayers are said at the end. You can opt out of assemblies if you don't want your children to be exposed to that. My mum pulled me out of assemblies in primary school for that reason- she comes from a country torn apart by religion (among other things) and wanted nothing more to do with it by the time she came to the UK. By secondary she just told me to bow my head politely but not join in

RE doesn't really impose any religion more than any other tbh, they learn about a wide range. The violence in my mum's home country if anything has made me think more than ever that we all need an understanding and respect for other religions, even if we believe in non of them ourselves. The trouble starts when we think our own beliefs are the only way, which is less likely to happen if we have an understanding of all different cultures and different people who are a part of them.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 16:35:23

ShadeofViolet my version of being respectful does not mean I am prepared to stay quiet about the educational void of RE to be foisted up the backsides of children for years on end when vastly more useful subjects like modern language aren't even compulsory for GCSE. Ignoring the very real modern languages used by billions across the globe to focus on hocus-pocus and it's cultural significance and this apparently makes children less ignorant and insular. Hmmm sure.

Euphemia France Sat 18-May-13 16:38:43

YABU.

You don't want your DD to understand the community and the world she lives in?

You don't want your DD to grow up understanding why other people look, behave, worship, etc. the way they do, rather than viewing them as "other"?

Are you going to complain if the school wants to teach her about Europe? The Second World War? Anti-Semitism? Where does it end?!

I don't know about the curriculum in England, but the Scottish curriculum for Religious and Moral Education states:

Learning through religious and moral education enables me to:
• recognise religion as an important expression of human experience
• learn about and from the beliefs, values, practices and traditions of Christianity and the world religions selected for study, other traditions and viewpoints independent of religious belief
• explore and develop knowledge and understanding of religions, recognising the place of Christianity in the Scottish context
• investigate and understand the responses which religious and non-religious views can offer to questions about the nature and meaning of life
• recognise and understand religious diversity and the importance of religion in society
• develop respect for others and an understanding of beliefs and practices which are different from my own
• explore and establish values such as wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity and engage in the development of and reflection upon my own moral values
• develop my beliefs, attitudes, values and practices through reflection, discovery and critical evaluation
• develop the skills of reflection, discernment, critical thinking and deciding how to act when making moral decisions
• make a positive difference to the world by putting my beliefs and values into action
• establish a firm foundation for lifelong learning, further learning and adult life.

I like that. smile

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:40:07

Well it obviously didnt work to make you less ignorant.

Everyone else on the thread seems to have been able to discuss religion without being mocking or poking fun at the things people choose to believe in. You post however is bordering on offensive.

Wellthen Sat 18-May-13 16:42:03

RE is not compulsory at GCSE to my knowledge.

English is the most widely spoken language in the world - MFL is a fabulous subject but useful is not a word I would use to describe it.

Children who have had good RE understand that others believe and behave differently to themselves and are tolerant and respectful. Religion has a huge impact on culture, including our own. This is not taught in history or, in my opinion, in any other subject.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:43:40

RE is compulsory - not the exam itself though

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:46:18

Only up to year 8 in our school.

YABU - as lots of other posters have said, it's part of the curriculum, but more that that, it's important to have an understanding beyond the cursory 'Muslims believe in Mohammed, Jews don't believe in Jesus' in order to have a tolerant, reasonable country. If you're not talking about faith at home, then it's good that the school is filling it in. And understanding faith has knock-on effects to lots of other subjects - it's referenced in art, literature, history, architecture to name but a few.

fwiw, I find evangelical atheism as unpalatable as evangelical Christianity.

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