Church of England wants better RE

(188 Posts)

"Church of England attacks Michael Gove over state of religious education"

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/05/church-attacks-gove-religious-education-schools

As an atheist, I'm delighted that RE is being squashed out of the curriculum and that kids leave school seeing religion as a "mystery".

Why can't churches keep out of school? I don't want Scientologists there or the Pope.

Discuss

ReallyTired Sat 05-Oct-13 21:21:49

There is a difference between relgious education and relgious instruction. Nowadays chldren learn about all five (or six) of the World's religions. Learning about what Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Buddism and christianity believe helps tolerance between groups of people. It also helps children understand the reasons behind certain historial events and current affairs. Whether we like or not religion has shaped our laws, history, literature and music.

I feel that it is a mistake that RE does not have a national curriculum. It allows faith schools to leave out the teaching of other religions. School RE lessons should be "some people believe" rather than "we believe".

I would like to see the rights of parents to remove their children from RE lessons to be revoked. Learning about other people's beliefs is useful to us all.

Theimpossiblegirl Sat 05-Oct-13 21:28:32

My children attend a church school but receive a really good standard of RE teaching, imo.

DD (10) came home last term saying that she was learning about Islam but didn't know much about it. She then proceeded to tell me all about the 5 Pillars in great detail and spoke about how it was good all of the religions she's learned about want everyone to be nice to each other. I really can't fault that.

I do think a comprehensive guide to teaching RE would be useful though, as DD may just have been lucky to have had a good teacher.

mummytime Sat 05-Oct-13 21:48:31

The syllabus for RE is usually set by the LA, or for a Church school by the Diocese. For C of E this does mean world religions are taught. It Christianity which is often taught the poorest.

JanuaryMadness Sat 05-Oct-13 21:55:55

I dislike organised religion as a whole. However religion forms the basis of world cultures, our entire history, politics and knowledge enables our ability to understand and empathise.

Lack of understanding is dangerous.

I think religious education is vital. However I dont think my ideas are really on the same page as the CoE. I would rather HE than send my child to a religious school.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 05-Oct-13 22:16:28

Our local primary school, our catchment school, which is a five minute walk from our house is a C of E school. It got Outstanding in its last Ofsted report and is always oversubscribed. I'm not too keen on the religious paraphernalia but as it's such a good school in so many other aspects I don't think it matters. They learn about religions in the same way that they learn about languages or history. It's just another subject. They dance, learn poetry, sing, play instruments, do a wide range of sports as well as all the academic subjects. I'm surprised they fit anything else in.

Good rebuttals.

However, religion is just one dimension of multi-culturalism and doesn't deserve special attention. History, social sciences, philosophy, anthropology, etc are the right places to illustrate the breadth of belief.

LittleRobots Sat 05-Oct-13 23:42:06

A good proportion of the syllabus when I taught it was philosophy and ethics.

Happier if religion is presented as a subset of Philosophy and Ethics, a means of delivery perhaps.

Not happy when RE is the place where P&E are explores as it implies the absence of morals and ethics outside religion.

Semantic perhaps and hopefully most students would see the distinction, but why get it wrong from the outset?

Yakky Sat 05-Oct-13 23:51:52

We were made to do extra RE classes as a form of detention at my school!
Religion should be taught at home (or not in the case of athiests).
Much more important that children learn how to read & write correctly first going by the awful spelling of some of my DS's friends.

ABitterPIL Sat 05-Oct-13 23:53:46

I challenge you to find established cultures which do not have religion at their core?

Trying to study philosophy, ethics, history, social sciences and even mathematics and physics (we need to have a basic understanding of the people who made scientific discoveries and how they reacged their conclusions) would be like trying to understand chemistry without a grasp of atomic structure.

Yakky Sat 05-Oct-13 23:57:55

I don't see how Newton and gravity had anything to do with RE.

LittleRobots Sun 06-Oct-13 00:02:57

Our A level syllabus started with Plato and Aristotle, looked at some of the historic arguments for the existence of God (and obviously their flaws, a good exercise in the practice of understanding logical argument). The problem of evil in its various forms and how religion and philosophy attempt to deal with this. The nature of knowledge and religious 'knowledge', what counts as a religious experience, etc.

It also looked at ethics of abortion, euthanasia, and all the usual debates. So much historically has been within the context of a religious society so it makes sense to discuss in context. Of course there's no suggestion a Christian viewpoint is the only or superior one. In fact the various inconsistencies are explored.

As for whether one needs God to discuss morality - yes that's on the syllabus too!

bbboo Sun 06-Oct-13 00:09:53

How strange that people do not want to learn about other religions - or any religion...it often explains the background to other cultures, beliefs, the basis of behaviour, the roots of extremism or tolerance .... the laws of a country are often based on their religion. Doesn't knowledge foster understanding/comprehension/tolerance?. Surely knowledge is power? Any decent RE teacher talks about 'some Christians believe' etc . It should not be taught of as fact but a belief .Any decent RE teacher will talk about 'some people (Muslim/Christian/Athiest ) believe etc . Some may even point out the similarities/differences between the religions and talk about how it ties in with morals and values. In the end, children spend far more time with their families,and absorbing their values and morals, than they do in the RE lessons at school. (Re lessons are one hour a week compared to 168 hours at home) - surely enough time to discuss the merits or not of religious belief? and time to explain why athiests do not agree with Islam/Christianity/Buddhism etc. History, anthropology, philosophy of a country are often built on their religious beliefs - it is difficult to discuss these without some knowledge of their religious background! I do not believe religious knowledge is the be all and end all of everything, but understanding of other cultures can be difficult without it!

Wow, it's like the enlightenment never happened. Philosophy, ethics and morals are not a subset of religion. It's the other way round, no matter how much history from the middle ages you bring to the table.

Religion is a historical legacy for promoting morals/ethics and philosophy. The classes should be Philosophy and Citizenship not RE classes. You would still get an understanding of religious culture and variety.

Sorry if you feel your faith has been demoted to a subset of something else, but if you don't allow that then I suggest you are prejudiced against agnostics and atheists as it gives precedence to belief over non-belief. Philosophy has no preference and at least could be taught with a starting point that looks at belief and non-belief on an equal footing.

blessedhope Sun 06-Oct-13 10:35:23

^Muswell- I disagree...the Enlightenment introduced worthwhile progress in science, but none in morality (in fact some strains of Enlightenment thought were markedly immoral and their baleful influence continues to this day.)

I hold a full blown Christian worldview, not a secular humanist one. If I was sending my children to a state school I would rather have no RE/moral education at all and would withdraw them from the former, because curricula are often produced by ultra-liberals working from the false assumption that people's religion is "true for them" and one is no different to another. Whereas I tend to believe that Christ's sacrifice was for all and He is the Way, Truth and Life so accepting or rejecting Him is sorta more important than picking your favourite drink or footy team...

These sort of books don't teach actual morals but are stuffed full of values clarification and affective education [who made Jerome Bruner, Lawrence Kohlberg and New Age self-esteemy types God? The One who purposed this universe sure didn't...] I am not willing to let trendy professionals introduce the wicked lie of relativism into any precious young souls under my care, thank you very much.

However, they are at a good Christian school so they will be getting a Biblical world view. This means they will be taught the Truth from God's Word (not just "my" or "our" truth or "our" "god" or "one of many equally valid ways") and will learn about other religions' good and morally neutral parts, but also where they go wrong and how to witness for Christ to those spiritually trapped in false faiths. Treating truth as subjective is 100% unacceptable to us.

What annoys me even more is the idea regularly pushed by faith bashers that teaching Christianity without any compromise as Truth leads to "intolerance" or not "understanding" other people and cultures; it doesn't pass muster in the VAST majority of cases. Almost every evangelical, Pentecostal or orthodox Catholic I know is loving and respectful to ALL people as Jesus told us to be, though I would love it if everyone accepted Christ I have no wish to force anyone to convert. And I can't speak for every anti-relativist Christian but I and my family certainly "understand" different faiths- I just don't agree with them! I'd prefer consistent Christians and consistent members of other faiths to be open with each other about their disagreements instead of all this inter-faith nonsense where people end up all believing pretty much the same, or not caring, just in case others are offended.

The simple fact that naturalistic atheists, who cannot possibly see my belief as "another valid way" because they deny the supernatural is valid in the first place, are perfectly civil and courteous to me and have been throughout my life is consistent with that.

I am not the greatest historian, so I'll accept your account of the enlightenment. I also accepted, at the beginning of this thread, the rebuttal that understanding religion is better than ignoring it, given the ubiquity of belief in culture and history. Listening to counter arguments and accepting new evidence is how I roll grin

I also think that our children get there beliefs, morals and ethics from home. Discussion in the school setting is not going to be central to their thinking compared to what Mum and Dad say/do/think. So I also like your idea that it isn't taught at all at school. As I said before, it will be captured plenty in History.

I'm, egotistically, disappointed that no-one seems to readily or explicitly accept my contention that RE is a subset of an agnostic topic, Philosophy, Morals and Ethics. People do seem very keen to forget that and keep presenting P.M.&E. as a subset of RE. Is the logic of my contention wrong or is it too humbling to admit its truth?

hmm

averyyoungkitten Sun 06-Oct-13 11:16:20

Can I just correct the misconception in the title here? It is NOT the Church of England who have said RE is badly taught, it is Ofsted. The C of E report has picked up on it.

However, I do not think anyone needs to be told this. Re has been taught badly for at least 20 years - the time I have been in teaching,- to my knowledge.

Whatever anyones views , Religion is an integral part of society and culture, especially as the country is now multicultural. Failure to teach about RE s a failure to teach about society.

Personally, I would be happy to have an education system where no religion at all were taught by anyone rather than one where RE is badly taught ( and overall mainly by atheist teachers in my experience, who have neither knowledge themselves nor depth of understanding. But that will not help our children adapt to a society and world like the one we live in - where religions (not Christianity) is very important in may aspects of world affairs and conflicts.

You cant understand 9/11, the middle east conflicts, most recent world history ( eg, Hamaas , the Taliban, The Kenyan shootings recently , if you ddo not understand the cultures, let alone understand the society we live in , which is far more complex in its conflicts. Hor can you deal with prejudice if you do not understand the cultures and religions underneath them)

averyyoungkitten

A failure to teach about History, which includes religion, would be a disaster. That doesn't need a dedicated RE class, that needs a good history class.

PS - I don't work for the Guardian, Ofsted or the CoE shockso can't take any responsibility for their poor headlines.

Like it or not, religion is a major part of our culture in this country (and most others, if not all others). So many of our laws and traditions originate from religion, as does a lot of our language and literature. I want my children to be well-informed and tbh would be a bit hmm about a school that didn't teach RE.

I agree that RE should be included with philosophy and ethics but I don't really care which order they are named in or which is a subset. What matters most to me is that my children learn about culture, religions, philosophy, morals and ethics both at home and at school.

FannyMcNally Sun 06-Oct-13 11:32:20

In primary it would help if it was called KUW (knowledge and understanding of the world) or just UW like in Early Years. It could still encompass RE units but would be less contentious and more relevant.

Thank you PuddleJumper. My ego is now a little more inflated. blush

averyyoungkitten Sun 06-Oct-13 12:21:10

What exactly are those ethics/morals that will be taught in schools?

At the moment it seems to be political correctness that is taught. Forgive me for my cynicism and my sinfullness even but I am not happy about many of those things that are currently taught.

At a very basic and practical level, like many people, I do not want my DC being taught someone elses idea of what is right or wrong.

At a very practical levl also , from the other side of the classroom door, I know how difficult it is for any teacher to teach anythintg that may have any ring of morality. I dont teach RE , so its not my problem in a classroom and I often keep off the subject if it does arise just because I know someones mum/ dad/ carer/ guardian may not like it. So in many respects it would be better by far if there were no religion, philosophy or ethics taught in schools at all.That is a radical position I know.

Consider the dilemma of the RE teachers in the school where I work. We have no muslims, we have one Buddhist who doesnt seem to know very much about Buddhism but is Buddhist anyway. We have six pagans - but they do not all share "Paganism" Some are new age hippies and one is an old Wiccan. There is a small group of fundamentalist Christians - who withdraw their children from RE. There are a whole bunch of "anything and nothings" We have three sikh's and one non practicing Hindu. Then we have a small Jewish community in the school. Not all a rereligious.

Then we have a brad spectrum of ethnic groups beyond that, and beyond that, an even broader cultural/ social mix.

Several of the new age hippies are against It, let alone RE. It is like walking on eggshells to mention anything, especially the hot topics - abortion, marriage, homosexuality. I am told euthanasia is "safe" as most of the children agree on that one.

I am fortunate, I do not have to teach any of it. I feel for those who do.

I suppose the only message we really need is the difference between right and wrong in society. That's probably reinforced every day through rules and tolerance.

So now I'm torn between nothing or teaching Philosophy and Citizenship. Still not wanting RE as a topic in its own right. shock

Good RE will teach about different religions and about ethics and philosophy. If I understand the report aright then the number of schools who have teachers trained to teach this complex subject are diminishing and some schools have shut down the RE department entirely. RE is one of the few subjects which gives children some space to think about contemporary issues - how do we decide what is right and wrong? Do we take a utilitarian or consequentialist approach? Is natural law the way to approach right and wrong? How have the major religions approached these issues?

What all three of my children got from RE lessons was a good grounding in philosophy and one has gone on to study it at university. All of them have had to study practical ethics and think through issues such as abortion and euthanasia. They had got the basics of Christianity from Sunday School but what the school did really well was introduce them to the other religions and their festivals. It is a pity more children don't get this opportunity?

Kenlee Sun 06-Oct-13 13:59:25

I always thought Religious education was the basis of philosophy?

It should be taught as religious study for that reason. I don't think it has a place in the Science class. Although, I think it should be taught alongside Classics as an understanding of Western or even Eastern civilization.

Any Religion is all about peace and love. Well the big four are anyway.

meditrina Sun 06-Oct-13 13:59:31

I do think RE is best taught from an agnostic position,a NC that extends to other branches of philosophy and ethics.

But that's agnostic not atheist. I do not think a positive belief there is no god (from whatever subset of atheism you might refer) should be championed.

Meditrina
Spot on about agnostic starting point. I'd want that too, as an atheist.

Kenlee
That is the myth I'm keen to bust. confused Religion has a history of dominating philosophy.

meditrina surely the best way is not to champion any belief but to discuss and examine as many as possible? I have no problem with atheism being discussed, just as I have no issue with agnosticism or the assorted faiths being looked at.

averyyoungkitten Sun 06-Oct-13 16:27:36

In my experience, the problem with school teaching of RE is that it tends to teach all faiths and the children end up with little or no knowledge of any faith and worse, are confused about what they do know and what they are supposed to think.

With my own DC I chose a school which only taught one faith. - at that time anyway, although a change of RE teachers seems to have changed the approach somewhat now and I am not sure it is the right direction for my DC. My rationale was that if my children understood one faith well, then at least they would have a clear set of ethical standards and principles from that on which to explore other ideas. It seems to have worked. My eldest is reading philosophy and theology. My middle DS is considering law as his direction. They both seem to have developed the best qualities in terms of thinking and in terms of understanding "right" and "wrong". But more importantly, they are not confused.

ReallyTired Sun 06-Oct-13 18:09:01

"However, they are at a good Christian school so they will be getting a Biblical world view. This means they will be taught the Truth from God's Word (not just "my" or "our" truth or "our" "god" or "one of many equally valid ways") and will learn about other religions' good and morally neutral parts, but also where they go wrong and how to witness for Christ to those spiritually trapped in false faiths. Treating truth as subjective is 100% unacceptable to us. "

Do your children attend an independent school. I think that such an approach to teaching RE would not be appriopate to a mainstream state school.

I think its important for children to realise that not everyone believe the same things especially if the child is being brought up in a particular faith. Unless you choose to work in a church you don't normally have christian or muslim work places.

My son's primary school looked at a different religion each term. They visited a church, a mosque and a gurduara. The children were taught the main beliefs of the six world's most popular religions.

I think that secondary is a better place to discuss ethical issues. If a child is armed with the facts about different religions then it can only enchance an ethnical discussion.

Seems like each school can decide how and what to teach, especially church or indies.

My kids church school claims to teach all faiths, but when you get the RE work books at the end of the year it's clear that 90% is the church stuff. The 1 page on Judaism was still quoting the New Testament! I didn't see any work on Islam or the Asian religions.

ABitterPIL Mon 07-Oct-13 00:17:21

RE should be its own subject because of the vast content.

I dont necessarilly agree with how I was taught RE, and how I assume it it still taught. But even a very very basic understanding of the belief structures of world religions could fill a GCSE course without pausing for breath.

A decent analysis of the common denominators and links between religions only hilights the futility of religious arguments.

ABitterPIL Mon 07-Oct-13 00:18:40

You debate that churches should keepnput of school, yet send your children to a church school?

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 07-Oct-13 00:31:23

I didn't see any work on Islam or the Asian religions

That's why Ofsted are criticizing the state of RE in schools.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 06:53:30

@ReallyTired absolutely, there are about 110 ultra-conservative independent Christian schools in this country, half of them opened in the last ten years- between those and the Bible believing home-schooling population we should raise up a minority to witness to the anti-Christian majority in today's world and stand up for absolute moral values under Jesus Christ.

AbitterPIL

Yes - when there's so much religion about it can be a challenge to avoid it. Just because I'm an atheist does mean I'm suffer from intolerance. However, I am still allowed to present my idea of utopia, which includes an absence of religion.

But my post wasn't about me....

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 07:59:57

interesting how many people presume RE is the same as when they were at school!

THINGS CHANGE!
Now RE when taught well is WILDLY popular and many go on to do philosophy and ethics or even straight RE at 6th form. Its contemporary and VERY relevant and has no hint of proselytising.

RainierWolfcastle

I didn't notice anyone making reference to how RE was taught when they were at school. We all seem to be talking about today.
Did I miss something?

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 08:26:26

well when did you last observe and RS lesson then?

JakeBullet Mon 07-Oct-13 08:36:00

My DS is in a Catholic school, we are Catholic but one of the reasons I like the school is that nearly 50% of children are NOT Catholic. They either have no religion or other religion...predominantly Muslim.

As a result the RE curriculum is fantastic and very inclusive. The children learn about all faiths and none. DS knows that not everyone has the same beliefs and that he can follow anything or none. He respects other faiths as a result as he has a good understanding of them.

Religion is out there whether we like it or not, the more we can encourage our children to understand differences and respect them the better it will be for everyone.

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 08:44:36

Religious Education and Theological instructions are not the same thing. Of course the CoE wants the latter because it is a form of 'free advertising'. I wanted my children to be taught RE however because it is a fascinating subject encompassing philosophy, culture, history, art, politics, ethics.

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 08:50:56

NO ONE in any school i have been in ( altho i dont darken the doors of catholic ones) tries to convert kids

its counter productive

ReallyTired Mon 07-Oct-13 09:29:58

Knowing about other faiths helps evangelical christians who want to convert the world. If you want to convert someone then it helps to make friends with them and understanding THEIR world view is important for friendship.

I feel that learning about the 6 world main religions and that that some people have no religion is essential. Knowing that we don't all think alike and have different beliefs is essential for sucess in a multicutural world whatever your personal beliefs.

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 10:33:29

I'm confused that MuswellHillDad (on p1) thinks that it is simple to teach people right from wrong, and that experience and tolerance will just make the difference clear.

On the contrary, any serious moralist will tell you that knowing right from wrong can often be difficult and complicated. One thing that RE can do, if it taught well, can be to how different deep ideas about right and wrong can have very different consequences in the real world.

Take the 'trolley problem', which asks you to imagine that you are driving a train full of passengers which is approaching a junction. On one fork of the junction a person is tied to the line. The other runs over a cliff. What should you do, given that you can't stop the train?

Do you believe that what is right and wrong depends entirely on the situation, and that there aren't any absolute standards? Do you believe that right and wrong are subject to means and ends (the end, or right, justifies the means used to achieve it)? Do you believe that right and wrong are universal? Do you believe that right and wrong are illusions? All these different ideas (some associated with religious beliefs, some associated with atheist philosophers) will have different outcomes in terms of what you decide to do.

The complexity of such debates means that they have to be taught by skilled teachers. Like it or not, the world's religions have a longer and richer tradition of moral and metaphysical thinking than atheism, and were historically prior to atheism -- the idea that you can separate philosophy from religion would have been viewed as nonsensical for most of history.

Ofsted is saying that the teaching of this difficult important subject is not good enough, and that is what RE teachers have been saying for years.

RainerWolfcastle

I haven't sat in on an RE class, but I've been to plenty of other classes and assemblies and I see how the school teaches "across the curriculum" ... so today's literacy exercise will be based on a passage from the new testament ..... any excuse to get the bible into English, Maths, History, Geography etc.

I'll repeat the observation I made about homework books below for ease of reference too.

"My kids church school claims to teach all faiths, but when you get the RE work books at the end of the year it's clear that 90% is the church stuff. The 1 page on Judaism was still quoting the New Testament! I didn't see any work on Islam or the Asian religions."

niminypiminy

I loved your example and I will take your comment on the chin. Teaching right from wrong is a challenge. What your example tells me is that there is so much to talk about with regards to Morals and Ethics that you could spend hours and hours and not mention God once.

Now that's a class I'd love my kids to take - Philosophy, Morals, Ethics and Critical Thinking. Ideally, as an atheist, I'd like that class to be banned from referring to religion as it has nothing to add (IMO). I would much prefer the study of religion to be in History and Culture classes. I'm also pretty confident that because we live in London, one of the most multi-cultural places on Earth, it wouldn't escape their attention that people "believe". It didn't escape mine and I never went to a temple.

mignonette

I want my kids to be taught "philosophy, culture, history, art, politics, ethics" too. Why does it have to have an RE wrapper on it?

JakeBullet

Our kids church school has less than 5% that got a place without clerical letter proving regular church attendance etc. Obviously quite a few stop going so much once their in ... shock

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 11:58:51

In my experience, the problem with school teaching of RE is that it tends to teach all faiths and the children end up with little or no knowledge of any faith and worse, are confused about what they do know and what they are supposed to think.

I explicitly do not want anyone, myself included, to teach my children what they are supposed to think. I want them to learn to think, not to think what other people believe to be correct. Teaching right from wrong should be a challenge. We should all go through life questioning what we are told and what we see, otherwise we are no better than sheep.

I'm quite worried that there are 100+ Christian fundamentalist schools in the UK, that's a lot of brainwashing going on...

As an atheist and a parent, I absolutely do not feel that I have a right to decide what my children believe. What worth is a faith or a lack of faith if the believer/unbeliever has not walked their own path to it but been spoonfed it instead? I want my children to be taught philosophy, cultulre, history, art, politics, ethics and human respect for those who believe differently.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 07-Oct-13 12:01:34

In your case Muswellhilldad, you chose to send your DCs to a church school, so it stands to reason that they will receive a faith based education. I am confused as to why you did this when you oppose what they do.

ReallyTired Mon 07-Oct-13 12:02:03

I don't think that RE lessons are going to go away. Surely humanists are better off campaigning for balanced RE lessons to be provided by law. Ie. learn what festivals and beliefs that different groups have. I am glad that my children are in schools that follow the Hertfordshire agreed curriculum for RE. The primary RE curriculum has been well thought out and my son learnt about all the major religions. Prehaps the Hertfordshire agreed curriculum should be a legal requirement in all schools.

It doesnt' say much about the strength of beliefs people have if they seriously think that an RE lesson once a week can indoctinate a child.

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:05:44

It doesn't have to have an RE wrapper upon it but taught well, RE can encompass all of them and it is interesting for pupils to see how religions have addressed these aspects of Human existence. Take Syria for example. There's an important example of how colonialism, the imposition of political and geographical borders and religion have all come together in a big theoretical and actual car crash. Yes, you can address RE in other subjects but I see that as problematic as merging the Humanities into one lesson or teaching two languages in one class. Studying a subject pure gives greater scope for knowledge. Then you can apply it across the educational timetable.

Agnosticism and Atheism have their place within RE too.

mignonette

I agree that merging so many topics into one is problematic. RE trying to cover topics that are worthy of their own class is problematic then. Especially when RE is a subset of those topics. RE is a subset of history, philosophy, ethics.

DioneTheDiabolist

I was trying to keep the post away from my personal circumstances, but failed. I only bring up my experience to counter those who bring up theirs to illustrate inconsistency and variety. I don't think I need to explain the choices we made being inconsistent with my beliefs. I don't claim autonomy and unilateral right to make decisions in our family. Do you?

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:19:00

RE is not necessarily trying to cover Geography, History, Philosophy etc, rather it encompasses these subjects. I think you are taking what I write a bit literally smile.

RE is not a subset of history any more than history is a subset of another subject or Politics is a subset of history.

I know - a bit literal, semantic and pedantic. Bit still RE doesn't "encompass" History, it's part of it. RE doesn't "encompass" philosophy, it's part of it's legacy.

Sorry, I just can't help myself - petty, but important to me smile

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:34:13

But history is also part of RE. Philosophy is also part of RE's legacy

<<<eagerly launching self into pedants debate because I too am one grin>>>

If the curriculum could guarantee that RE would be included in History and other topics and the RE class could be replaced with Critical Thinking, then I'd be happy.

Would anyone here like to see RE "encompassed" elsewhere and replaced with Critical Thinking?

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:36:40

Critical thinking is worked into most subjects though. For example Historiography is part of History.

No, just because RE has history and is part of history, doesn't make it encompass history.

Sorry to continue the pedantry, but history is not a subset of RE.

smile smile

So if you are happy with Critical Thinking, crucial life skill, being part of other subjects then surely you'd be happy with RE .... OK, OK I know what you're going to say .... wink

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:38:34

I would say that RE does encircle history. Whether we like it or not or agree upon how it circles it. It is both circle and fulcrum sadly.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Mon 07-Oct-13 12:41:37

As an atheist, or perhaps agnostic, I'm not going to be campaigning for RE lessons in school. That said I do think it is important for children to learn it as it is a historical subject as well as a religious one - even if you don't believe in the miracles and so on it is still the case that there was a bloke called Jesus who did stuff, some of which was considered to be a miracle and I reckon the bible does give some interesting insights into how people were in the past.

"I would say that RE does encircle history"

So we don't need History classes then as its covered in RE? Let's replace History with Critical Thinking then? biscuit

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 07-Oct-13 12:42:49

It is precisely because you keep giving examples of your experience with your DC's school that I have asked you about it. If I strongly objected to the ethos of a particular school, I would not send my DC there.

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:44:42

Why the biscuit? That's not very nice.

You are not really getting what I am saying I think so am bowing out of the debate.

Thanks KatyPutTheCuttleOn. I was feeling like the Lone Ranger until you showed up.

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:46:25

BTW I am an atheist.

mignonette, sorry if that was deemed offensive. It's listed as No Comment in the smileys list and wasn't meant to be offensive. I was enjoying our debate. Not sure we were ever going to agree though.

mignonette Mon 07-Oct-13 12:49:02

OK Muswell Have just been tortured at the dentist an hour ago (nine injections and still not numb enough) so the thought of gnawing on a biscuit was the last straw smile

Yes, agree to disagree I think.

alemci Mon 07-Oct-13 12:53:48

It does make it very difficult in history when you are trying to discuss Henry VIII and the destruction of the monasteries. Lack of knowledge about protestants and catholic differences and about christianity which is part of our history and heritage makes it harder.

The reformation is a very important turning point in English history and the moving away from Rome.

Also I think christianity gives insight into british culture to some extent.

ouryve Mon 07-Oct-13 12:54:59

As an atheist, I'm delighted that RE is being squashed out of the curriculum and that kids leave school seeing religion as a "mystery".

As an atheist, I would rather there was no mystery involved with religion. Children need to grow up with an informed understanding of the religion and culture of those around them so that there is no room for ill informed prejudice or misconceptions. You only need to look at the US to see the result of keeping other people's beliefs a mystery.

DioneTheDiabolist Fair enough. The decision was not mine alone and I make compromises even when I feel strongly on something.

ReallyTired Mon 07-Oct-13 12:55:53

RE lessons work well at many schools and many parents of all creeds ar happy with the arrangements made at lots of community schools. Why break something that doesn't need fixing?

Surely its better spread good practice across the coutnry.

alemci Mon 07-Oct-13 12:57:44

Where I worked RE was taught well and the students learnt about the main religions. At GCSE it was taught from a christian perspective

e.g. evil and suffering
Euthenasia

but on the AQA paper there were other faiths but our students were told to do the christianity paper as that is what they had been taught.

ouryve - I agree and I had accepted your view (and others with the same view) since my original post. smile Always happy to change my mind with good evidence and debate.

Coupon Mon 07-Oct-13 13:05:22

Knowledge, education and information are the keys to tackling misunderstandings, intolerance and bigotry. Usually schools will present the mainstream information about each religion. So, when children are older and encounter any type of fundamentalism or extremist religion, they'll realise how far removed from the average version of that religion it is.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 13:08:48

>You only need to look at the US to see the result of keeping other people's beliefs a mystery.

Yes - prominent atheists such as Dan Dennett want to see RE taught in US state schools.

From what I've seen of DDs RE, its way better now than when I was a child (when it was pretty much just Bible stories, pretty much assumed to be 'the truth'). I'm sure it could be improved but I doubt that will happen on Mr Gove's watch.

I think perhaps it needs refocusing - possibly taking apart into different subjects. I agree with the OP that P&E is important and absolutely is not a subset of RE. But P&E alone isn't enough. There also needs to some study of a wide variety of religious and non-religious systems - so that children don't just know about what their parents believe; I also think that there probably needs to be some additional historical/cultural education (which would mostly be Judeo-Christian in this country) to help pupils access literature, art etc and understand our history.

(The one thing there shouldn't be is any 'RI' or actual worship)

ouryve Mon 07-Oct-13 13:08:55

I figured I'd give my hapenn'orth before trawling through the responses, just in case I felt like hurling my laptop before I got to the end!

All the evidence needed is in some of the posts in this thread, although the posts I'm referring to probably had the opposite intention.

Inertia Mon 07-Oct-13 13:14:52

My personal viewpoint is that education should be secular- there is no need for faith-based schools, people can follow their religion in their own time in their respective place of worship. The state doesn't fund non-religious allegiance-based schools- we don't have vegan schools, for example, or West Bromwich Albion schools.

However, I think there is room for RE to be taught within Humanities based contexts as long as children are taught that there are many different faith systems, there is no 'right' religion , and it's part of a wider cultural curriculum.

Bottom line, though, is that schools are now so governed by results that they generally have to focus as much curriculum time as possible on the League Table subjects, with everything else being squeezed. Science , PE, Geography etc probably don't get anywhere near the curriculum time they should - but then they aren't tested.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 07-Oct-13 13:20:55

I'm a deist and I agree with Ouryve and now yourself OPwink, that children do not leave school with religion as mystery.

I was unable to read the Guardian article, but I do know that Ofsted particularly criticized the lack of teaching of non-Christian religions in RE (it was the Ofsted report that prompted a response from the CofE). Most people in the world have a religion. Having a basic understanding of religions gives a basic understanding of people. I think that is a good and necessary lesson for our children (and ourselves).smile

KatyPutTheCuttleOn and Inertia

Three's company in my books, shall I put the kettle on? brew

Coupon Mon 07-Oct-13 14:55:26

Should we really teach the pluralistic or secular opinion that "there is no right religion" though Inertia? Or would it be better to teach that people have different opinions on what is right? If you say there is no right religion then a religious child may wonder what is "wrong" with theirs.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 15:43:59

While 'teaching that there is no right religion' would probably upset many religious people, it is surely the case that schools should not teach their pupils that there is a (specific) right religion.

Aren't we mixing up right and wrong with the right or wrong religion?

The first one is the important one, the second one is just dressing.

The excellent Trolley dilemma below is useful. Wouldn't we all struggle to answer and make a choice in the same way, regardless of our beliefs? Therefore whether you are CoE, RC, Buddhist or atheist you would still have the same moral maze to navigate. Again, no religion gives you the answer or an advantage. Morals are actually agnostic and religion is merely a way of communicating them.

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 17:48:09

As the person who brought up the trolley problem, I would say we have the same dilemmas, but we have different resources for negotiating them, because different ethical systems have different ideas about what is right and wrong.

In my view, the richest moral traditions, those where people have put the most serious thought into ethics, are world's great religions. In my view the systems of ethics developed by atheists, particularly utiltarianism and situational ethics, are seriously, profoundly wrong -- and to understand why they are wrong you need some of the concepts that are fundamental to (some of) the world's great religions.

Inertia Mon 07-Oct-13 18:02:18

Ok, there is no universal consensus about religion would perhaps be better.

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 18:02:24

i think your kids school must be very bad OP. no AIsian religions? In our area Islam and christianity are compulsory
really!
Mind you if I read letters from the doctor and sit in the odd surgery then i can formulate a REALLY good idea of what its like to be a doctor and how to do it right? hmm

unless you really know about the RS curriculum and what teaching is like I would zip it grin

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 18:18:12

Niminy - but then again, there are parts of the 'moral codes' of some religions which appear to many people today to be profoundly unethical.

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 18:39:50

Errol, I do agree that some parts of the the 'moral code' of some religions appear to many people to be profoundly unethical. But that's something that needs unpacking.

Firstly, I think you mean that people don't agree with some of the moral code -- that they think it is wrong. That's not quite the same as unethical. For example, the RCC's teaching on abortion is viewed by many as entirely wrong -- yet it proceeds from exactly the same line of ethical reasoning as the RCC's opposition to capital punishment, which many of the same people, I'm guessing, would think was right. (By the way, I'm not an RC!)

Also, there is a distinction between systems of ethics and moral codes. Moral codes arise from systems of ethics, but they're not the same as them. A system of ethics is the underlying principles that underpin any moral code -- such as, say, there are universal moral principles such as right and wrong -- or there are no universal principles, and right and wrong are purely determined by the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. The moral code arises from applying the ethical principles.

And one of the problems about moral codes is that they lead you into difficult situations. It's wrong to kill, for instance; or it's right to kill someone if you prevent the deaths of other people. What I am saying, really, is that even though they get things wrong the world's great religions have greater resources for helping us to deal with these questions than secular philosophers have yet come up with.

I read "Aslan" religions there smile

I can't say with absolute certainty that Islam is not discussed at all in the class as, clearly, I'm not there. However, their workbooks show no evidence of that and their knowledge of other religions seems no more than they might have picked up along the way. Maybe they're just "slow" kidswink

Niminypiminy. Matters such as murder, abortion etc have group morals reflected in Law. A soldier at war is licenced to kill, a gangster with a gun is not. Abortion is legal. All of that is secular. No need for guidance from religion. Of course, you might choose, as a Roman Catholic, not to have an abortion and that be in keeping with your personal moral code and the law.

pyrrah Mon 07-Oct-13 18:54:49

KatyPutTheCuttleOn - "even if you don't believe in the miracles and so on it is still the case that there was a bloke called Jesus who did stuff, some of which was considered to be a miracle"

Actually there is ZERO contemporaneous evidence for Jesus at all - or even historical evidence.

Just one of those things we were all taught in school and never really questioned, even as a life-long atheist it was a surprise to me when I found it out!

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 18:55:55

MuswellHillDad, where do you think we got those group morals and laws from?? Indeed, where do you think we got the idea that law should cover moral matters?

Imagine Potterism in 2000 years. smile

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 18:58:26

>Moral codes arise from systems of ethics

They should; however too often in practice, religious 'moral codes' seem to derive from particular interpretations of what one ancient book or another says.

Its not at all clear to me what resources religions could have which would give them any advantage over secular philosophers.

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 18:58:32

plus most of the legal system has its basis in the Judeo Christian tradition

and literature

theyd never understand the swoonability of Aslan

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 18:58:55

lol asian
obvs!

Then Aslan

alemci Mon 07-Oct-13 19:03:27

Pyrah

I think there are some records of Jesus existing in Roman Documentation. Have a book about it somewhere upstairs.

People. Laws came from people that collectively agreed it served their purpose and agreed to be bound by them. The fact that those people may have been religious is relevant but wouldn't those laws come about in some form anyway? Or is a secular society anarchy?

RainierWolfcastle Mon 07-Oct-13 19:10:02

no but to have a kind of tabula rasa approach where you dont try and teach where these came from is a bit... extreme.

Your issue is ( I think ) that you dont realise that RS is NOT instruction as French in school isn't trying to make people French.

Until you sit in a lesson and look at a Scheme of work from the teachers point of view I dont think you will get this.

Plus, how much of the Philosophy of Religious thinkers is actually standing on the shoulders of Greek giants?

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 19:14:23

Hm. I just had a look at the National Secular Society web site. Funnily enough their latest campaign is ... a reform of RE, dispersing the subject matter across various curriculum areas, and casting RE as a form of indoctrination.

Exactly what MuswellHillDad is saying! Can I ask, MuswellHillDad, whether you are a member of the NSS? Because I think it would be, um, ethical to say where you are coming from on this.

Do you know what? I'm loving this thread. I hope my constant twisting and turning isn't putting people off but I feel like I'm learning and developing as I read others point of view and debates. smile

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 19:15:39

Little of the philosophy of religious thinkers is standing on the shoulders of Ancient Greek giants -- but I guess you would have to know something about the history of religion to know that.

I'm not a member of the NSS, nor had I seen that campaign. It might be that the Ofsted comment and the campaign are linked though.

I have avoided any kind of secular or atheist societies quite deliberately. I am put off by the aggressive approach they take. That said, I clearly agree with many public figures (Hitchens, Dawkins).

I did go to the Sunday Assembly a few weeks back to see if I could get into "Group atheism" but it felt too "churchy" for my liking.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 19:20:14

>plus most of the legal system has its basis in the Judeo Christian tradition

does it though? Civilizations from the Sumerians on have had legal systems which covered matters which we might consider 'moral' but also the more practical (tax etc). I'm not an expert but I thought some of our legal system (for instance being tried by a jury of your peers) stemmed from the Vikings.

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 19:23:02

Ok fair enough smile

Catmint Mon 07-Oct-13 19:25:32

Ethics, morality, cultural difference, religious education. Yes to all of those, I think they're all very important frameworks for thinking about the world and our place in it.( as long as it is done well and without dogma).

Assemblies with mandatory religious content? no! No! A thousand times No! I HATE it!

Niminypiminy

{reaches for copy of History of Western Philosophy}

I'll get back to you on the Greek shoulders thing. wink

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 19:36:41

Here is the NSS's comments on the Ofsted report.

This is the campaign alluded to, I assume - I'm not sure niminy quite represented it correctly - the 'dispersal' was in addition to a reformulated 'RE'.

Seems a pretty reasonable proposal to me - and not 'aggressive'. (Though perhaps faith groups defensive of a privileged position might not agree)

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 20:04:33

A lot of Christian tradition is directly nicked from its pagan predecessors. It's impossible to determine exactly where in human evolution human morality begins - but at the heart of it all having a society with laws and rules that benefit the population as a whole is a simple survival trait.

<just throwing another spanner into the ring>

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 07-Oct-13 20:28:19

Ancient Greek giants? Ancient Egyptian giants more like. And Babylonians and Sumerians and no doubt plenty of lost to history, smaller civilizations that predate the written word.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 20:31:11

MuswellHillDad we are too far removed to ever agree unless you get born again, but though I generally believe in obeying the law, I do not see it as a source of morals in any way. I will teach my kids that the word of God is the ultimate source of morality- NOT man's laws or social consensus.

So on abortion, for example, I could explain why God is against slaughtering an unborn child and only then tell them the civil law in this country permits it, due to (among other things)
1)the deception of MPs in 1967 by forces of wickedness- they urged them to pass a Bill permitting "hard cases" then turned round and declared the new law should mean abortion on demand with no limits but the then 28-week cutoff;
2)the perverse secular humanistic view of right to life which claims it is a "human right" granted by men to "sentient" beings that no state can take away for punishment of a crime, as opposed to the truly moral God-given right which does not depend on a conceived human being's capacity to feel pain and which He aiuthorises to be withdrawn upon conviction for a capital offence and
3) certain people are so given over to the sensual nature they want to make it as convenient as possible to have illlcit SEX. Many justify themselves by reference to the "time" that they live in; actually men and women are morally responsible beings and the date on the calendar is NOT forcing you to be a libertine who values pleasure above the off-chance of a pesky baby. As extreme proabortion leader Ann Furedi has said:

^Legal abortion was essential if women were to enjoy their sexuality.
To argue against 'the right to choose' was to argue that women should fulfil their traditional domestic destiny as wives and mothers at a time when sexual freedom and women's economic independence were celebrated.^

Furedi focuses on those of us who can get pregnant, but I would add men too- you nearly always find the sexually ultra-experienced "cosmopolitan sophisticates" and men in the music/Hollywood etc. crowd standing with their partners in concupiscence behind the strict litmus test.

You will likely find those premises abhorrent because of your anti-Christian worldview but they are what I and several million of my fellow law abiding citizens believe and we are not a threat to anybody for doing so (hardly any violent or criminal anti-abortion extremism has ever happened here; believing that the "human rights" framework is inappropriate to apply to convicted killers doesn't make us take things into our own hands.) I am called neither to change laws through the political process nor to move away from this part of the world, but to remain in peaceful and principled disagreement.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 20:35:19

and pointythings typical anti-Christian smear, I will not even dignify such trash with a response! God not man is the author of morals.

Also there are few if any "fundamentalist" schools out of the around 110 I cited. Ultra-conservative meant in comparison to what militant humanists believe, not the "far fringe" within evangelical Christianity (which would be pretty narrow and zealous places.) Trust a godless person to throw words like "fundie" and "indoctrinate" around to bash people over the head- they already have most of the state system and some apparently feel threatened that not every child is coaxed by the state into buying what they are selling.

If you're going to rebut the statement made then you need to provide some evidence that Christian philosophers didn't draw on predecessors as much as asserted. Or perhaps you can't because they did?

My response to that question was to go find my old history of philosophy books and reread them, not to dismiss it out of hand.

I'm always open to change my kind given good debate and evidence, are you?

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 20:55:18

blessed you are calling me a militant humanist - I am not. If I were arguing for the closure of all faith schools then I would be, but I'm not. I am simply stating that their existence makes me uncomfortable. Just as you find that the 'godless' State system (with its compulsory daily act of Christian worship) makes you uncomfortable.

Your assertion that God is the author or morals is a matter of belief and no more. Since I do not believe in God, it is meaningless to me and just smacks of the condescension of a particular brand of believer towards those who do not believe - that secular morals are inferior to yours. A lot of my friends are believers and we are able to have discourse without descending to slurs.

And I do believe that raising children in the faith is a form of brainwashing. It's legal, you are free to do it, I am free to prefer allowing my children to find their own path - within the law of the land we live in, of course.

Lastly I'd just like to point out that the essential tenets of all the major faiths, which are about treating each other decently, not committing crimes, mutual respect etc. are all pretty similar no matter what faith path you choose - that includes the laws of ancient pagan society. Human decency is innate and is a strong driver of morality, God is just the face some of us put on it.

Cup if tea pointy things? brew

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 21:02:42

Don't mind if I do, MuswellHillDad. Can I have cake with it? smile

I sense you might have been in this debate before.

Cake?

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 21:18:15

Yep, it's the new cake emoticon. I've been asking for a chocolate one for years now but MNHQ are putting us all on a diet grin.

FWIW I think you have made some very eloquent points, much better than I could have made them. I tend to see red when people play the 'pity the poor unbelievers, they know not what they do' card. All I want is for my DDs to have a solid grounding in what religion is, what people across the world believe, how religion ties in with philosophy and how it can be an influence for good as well as the reverse. Let's face it, religion gave us the Taliban but it has also given us St Matthew's Passion and the Messiah.

Fortunately my DDs have had a solid grounding in comparative religion - they have both been to a C of E primary school (and yes, I was honest about my atheism on the application form). The school has a Christian assembly - obviously - and my DDs have not been withdrawn from that. When they teach RE, it is however not RI. I chose the school purely with my gut - two primaries in our town, both 'satisfactory' at the time, so I went with the one we felt happiest with. It is a lovely school.

I currently have one DD who is an agnostic and another who is a pagan. Good for them, I say.

I get the sense we're in a virtual tea room and we're sitting on one side of the room and there's a bunch of people on the other side. It's only a matter of time before the harpsichord music is interrupted by a food fight. Such a waste of cucumber sandwiches.

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 21:28:18

I'm not sure it's just the two of us, I think dione might be on our side of the room. As long as we have all the cakes I don't really care. And can I have a G&T instead of just T?

wine

Vodka martini

Inertia Mon 07-Oct-13 21:49:45

Blessed Hope - your comment about the godless having most of the state school system is somewhat disingenuous. Religious indoctrination is not (or at least, in my view, shouldn't be) the main purpose of schools - schools are there to provide a broad and balanced education. It'd be like atheists protesting that the religious had all the churches ( which is not to be sniffed at btw - lots of money, land and political power wrapped up in religious organisations).

If a religious organisation needs to commandeer the education system as well as its own system of worship and practice, that seems to suggest that it isn't really convincing enough on its own.

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 21:58:06

Inertia - welcome to godless corner! Have a wine wine or two grin.

Niminypiminy, so here's my first reference, but they'll be others, probably from the same book. Happy to take the flack for choosing famed agnostic Bertrand Russell as the source, but I have read History of Western Philosophy cover to cover and I think many would agree his account is a brief but authoritative summary and tour de force:

"The Catholic Church was derived from three sources. Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman. The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements. It thus co-operated with the nationalist forces which were undoing the work of social cohesion which had been effected first by the Roman Empire and then by the Roman Church. In Catholic doctrine, divine revelation did not end with the scriptures, but continued from age to age through the medium of the Church, to which, therefore, it was the duty of the individual to submit his private opinions. Protestants, on the contrary, rejected the Church as a vehicle of revelation; truth was to be sought only in the Bible, which each man could interpret for himself. If men differed in their interpretation, there was no divinely appointed authority to decide the dispute. In practice, the State claimed the right that had formerly belonged to the Church, but this was a usurpation. In Protestant theory, there should be no earthly intermediary between the soul and God."

niminypiminy Mon 07-Oct-13 22:22:16

MuswellHillDad, Russell's summary is indeed brief, does indeed sound authoritative, but is in fact simplistic and historically wrong.

Please excuse me, however. A family event has occurred that will mean I have to take a break from this conversation.

Inertia Mon 07-Oct-13 22:23:00

Thanks Pointy, wine always helps when discussing religion.

Thinking about this, when people say "there isn't enough religion / RE in schools / society" they usually mean "there isn't enough of MY religion in schools / society".

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 22:31:11

OP, MN is a bit of a virtual tearoom - but there are quite a lot of people who like civilized debate rather than food fights grin. Dione is I think on the side of the angels with Niminy ; I'll happily admit to being a paid up member of the BHA and NSS and have no idea what a 'militant humanist' is supposed to be grin. Someone who doesn't accept the continuance of religious privilege in silence maybe? confused

pointythings Mon 07-Oct-13 22:33:42

Errol, by your definition I am a militant humanist then. And proud to be one too. grin grin

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 22:44:12

I just tried entering 'militant humanist' in my google search bar and it asked me if I meant 'militant feminism' and gave me the links for that! grin

If google doesn't recognise it as a thing, does it exist?

ouryve Mon 07-Oct-13 22:55:33

Perhaps a militant humanist is someone who doesn't want to live their life according to some fabled figure. Count me in.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 23:03:16

That's just a 'humanist'. Don't know what the 'militant' part is supposed to signify.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 23:04:47

Terence Copley's Indoctrination, Education and God makes a good case from the moderate Christian perspective that complaints about "indoctrination" by people wanting to keep education secular miss the mark because all school systems indoctrinate to some degree and for some purpose: it's a matter of what doctrine is to be promulgated, which makes things difficult in any society with more than one (non) religious and (non) spiritual viewpoint; even leaving religion out altogether and saying it's "the job of home and church/ place of worship" is powerfully indoctrinating children with a hidden curriculum of marginalization of faith in daily life- not to mention that matters germane to faith-based worldviews are discussed overtly across the secular curriculum in a way which must be "balanced" somehow.

For excluding faith from state education to be fair to those with a Biblical worldview or other paradigms one would need to at least cut massive holes in the so-called "social and emotional aspects of learning" programs, or abolish them altogether in a Bonfire of the Vacuities; one reason for my children being privately educated in a Christian setting is due to friends warning of a couple of (militant?) teachers at the local comp who have stretched SEAL to force children to waste two hours of their week allegedly in "enrichment of... intra- and inter-personal intelligences" through practices which encourage unlimited self-disclosure trampling upon their privacy and ours, promote New Age "relaxation techniques" and forms of "stress relief" with anti-Christian Eastern religious influences to ostensibly get kids through exams, and introduce sessions on "emotional literacy" where significant moral issues are discussed but pupils are told there is NO right or wrong answer !

Many mothers trust blindly that a school described as a "community" primary or comprehensive will be neutral on value-laden issues, not necessarily reinforcing what is taught at home but at least respecting it- then I realised what some teachers think they can get away with! And all too often when parents do complain they seem to believe they have a right to expose your dcs to anything just because they are professionals ...well none of THAT arrogance at the school dh and I chose grin . Shame that we have to pay for it in addition to paying the same tax money as state system users, and that good Christian (or Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) schools are few and far between.

The fairest thing to do IMO would be vouchers for private schools and more free schools approved (and non-Christian ones too; it is being suggested that Gove's team are employing discrimination in approval of proposed Muslim and Hindu free schools/ academies which are badly needed in our inner cities. After his efforts to downplay people of colour in History lessons I fear the DoE may be biased against British Asian community, which would explain above.) Those remaining in the state system would then have more competition and parents more choices so they would have to be honest about their own "indoctrination", however it was structured. As you will never find one philosophy of life which all British parents agree on their children being taught I cannot see any other way being fairer to people overall across religion/belief, socio-economic and ethnic categories. Trying to create a "neutral" common school system just leads to a few powerful groups setting the rules for everyone.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 23:21:37

I don't think that's a strong case at all. It's just someone trying to justify the status quo of religion having a privileged position in our education system at the moment.

The most secular country I can think of, in terms of the state education system, is the USA. Faith doesn't exactly seem to have been marginalized there, does it? hmm

No. Schools should teach children how to think for themselves, not what to think. They should equip them with knowledge and the means to apply their intelligence. That's not 'indoctrination' by any normal interpretation of what the word means.

blessedhope

Wouldn't your scheme and such "choice" lead to even greater fraction and divide amongst communities along religious fault lines? I think the media is already trying scaremonger on this issue, but perhaps there's some fire to that smoke already.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 00:02:23

Faith schools are already a problem for community cohesion in some areas. Segregating children according to their parents' religion is a really bad idea - think about Northern Ireland for a moment. sad

NiminyPiminy

Second submission, from a Christian viewpoint, still acknowledging the Greek import but trying to derive that it came from Ancient Hebrews whose thoughts were, of course, seeded by God. It's one of those God put the dinosaur fossils there to make us think he's not there but really is because you "gotta have faith, faith, faith" arguments (George Michael tunes playing in my crazy atheist head grin)

One early Christian writer of the 2nd and early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria, demonstrated Greek thought in writing,

"Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ ... the philosophy of the Greeks ... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human ... even upon those spiritual objects." (Miscellanies 6. 8)

However, Eusebius' own Praeparatio Evangelica does not adopt the common notion (which occurs at least as early as Clement of Alexandria) of Greek philosophy as a "preparation for the Gospel." Eusebius instead offers a lengthy argument for the wisdom of the ancient Hebrews becoming a preparation for Greek philosophy (at least Platonic philosophy, see Praep.ev. 11-13). For Eusebius, the Greeks stole any truths they possessed from the more ancient Hebrews.

Nimmy has said she has a family emergency.

Christian thought was and is influenced by philosophy and that is one of the reasons why teaching religion and philosophy together makes sense.
It would be good if the philosophy of science could be taught at the same time as physics, biology and chemistry but trying to get children's heads around critical realism before break time is probably a bit much.

alemci Tue 08-Oct-13 08:46:58

blessed I agree with you to some extent. I suppose your dc could have counteracted it to some extent by taking it with a pinch of salt.

some teachers do have their own political agenda often rubbishing our original culture and demonizing christianity. saving the planet seemed to be very topical and global warming and they are legitimate concerns.

pointythings Tue 08-Oct-13 08:52:39

blessed your description of New Age relaxation and meditation techniques as anti-Christian is very entertaining... Many of these are drawn from Buddhist principles, and I can't think of a less combative belief system than that.

And I agree with Errol that dividing schools along hard faith lines would be bad for community cohesion, reinforcing the 'us and them' perceptions. It isn't working with the differing strands of Islam either - Sunnis and Shi'ites, anyone? As soon as we start seeing ourselves as other than 'fellow human being', we're in trouble and courting conflict.

I'd be very careful about promoting religious free schools as well, given the Al Medinah fiasco in Leeds.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 10:36:08

Derby, not Leeds ...hopefully that will be a wake-up call for people promoting 'free schools'.

Alemci, on MN we hear far more often about teachers with their own 'agenda' who are presenting small children with Christianity as if it was The Truth. Whichever way round, they should avoid it.

I don't know many practicing scientists who have a lot of time for 'the philosophy of science' TBH... my DH did a course for the heck of it not so long ago and reckoned there was a bit of stating the obvious and a lot of waffle. grin

"Little of the philosophy of religious thinkers is standing on the shoulders of Ancient Greek giants -- but I guess you would have to know something about the history of religion to know that."

When someone says I need to know something, I go and find out for myself, rather than take their word for it ..... sound familiar to any "born again atheists" out there.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts
I understand NiminyPiminy is busy, but this is public debate, so it doesn't have to stop. It will all be here waiting should they choice to rejoin.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 10:39:33

I do hope she and her family are ok and she can rejoin us.

niminypiminy Tue 08-Oct-13 10:53:11

(Popping in briefly to say thank you, and I'll be back when I can, though I'm sure things will have moved on!)

Wishing NiminyPiminy and family well (having just seen a thread elsewhere). thanks

pointythings Tue 08-Oct-13 11:22:45

Very best wishes to you niminipiminy flowers

alemci Tue 08-Oct-13 17:53:11

yes I agree errol always want to call you ercol by mistakesmile

ErrolTheDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 17:58:09

My parents had some classic Ercol dining chairs, so that gives me a nostalgia trip so I wouldn't mind grin

alemci Tue 08-Oct-13 18:33:51

good, I have a lovely ercol table given by in laws so glad you don't mind smile

pointythings Tue 08-Oct-13 18:51:46

I've just Googled Ercol tables and am feeling a bit envy. Just beautiful.

alemci Tue 08-Oct-13 19:04:02

I'm coveting the in laws matching elm sideboard toosmile

Now we get the ultimate questions and answers in life. What type of sideboard to have.

Why don't they teach this stuff at school?

pointythings Tue 08-Oct-13 19:59:53

But at least we are not having any major schism over the right kind of sideboard, MuswellHillDad - we all respect each other's choices in sideboards.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 20:05:17

So long as its good hardwood...Treske ash, myself, hope that's not heretical. grin
So, now we've got our virtual teaparty tastefully furnished ... where were we?

Hang on. You weren't about to put that drink down without a coaster were you! confused

alemci Tue 08-Oct-13 21:29:09

grin probably get flamed on another thread for having the wrong decor

its all that dragons fault I'm telling ya (joking)

pyrrah Tue 08-Oct-13 22:55:35

alemci,

There are a couple of references in the writings of the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus which are widely accepted as later and false additions to the original texts. In any case, Josephus was born in 37CE, so was not a contemporary and no traces exist of the documents from which these additions purported to come from.

The first gospel - probably Mark or Matthew - was written in around 70CE - so again not contemporaneous.

Provincial governors such as Pontius Pilate kept meticulous records... yet no mention of a Jesus such as that of the bible. Roman censuses were - like our own - carried out on a particular date and wherever you happened to be. The idea of returning to your birth town as per the bible is pure fiction.

The whole virgin birth/messiah/son of god/died and rose on the 3rd day is a carbon copy of the myths about Mithras - the Roman military religion. As with Christmas conveniently replacing Saturnalia, it seems that a bit of enthusiastic borrowing was going on amongst the early founders of the Xtian church.

It's one of the things that most infuriated me about the old-style RE that I was taught back in the 70's/80's - no-one ever pointed out the contradictions and anomalies and despite being an atheist for as long as I ever remember (was expelled from school at 6 for being a nasty little heathen and bad example to the other children by the extreme fundie HT - not in the UK) I believed that Jesus as a historical figure existed.

In terms of teaching reasoning skills and developing questioning minds, I think these sort of things could be very interesting to tackle in RE lessons.

FWIW, anyone who wants to be actively involved in RE, you can apply to be a representative on your local SACRE. I was the Humanist Rep for several years on mine and received a very warm welcome from all the religious reps - who seemed rather relieved to have someone giving the non-believers a voice!

blessedhope Wed 09-Oct-13 00:33:18

"The whole virgin birth/messiah/son of god/died and rose on the 3rd day is a carbon copy of the myths about Mithras - the Roman military religion. As with Christmas conveniently replacing Saturnalia, it seems that a bit of enthusiastic borrowing was going on amongst the early founders of the Xtian church."

No it isn't a "carbon" copy. There are similarities, but that's it. Jesus' Messiahship is based on His fulfilment of the Messianic predictions. "Mithras" is man-made and possibly demonic, as Satan is the father of all lies; Jesus of Nazareth was God the Son as well as Son of God [not "god"] in the Flesh. I have looked into all this before of course, as a born-again person from a secularist family. I am totally unconvinced by the "scholars" at places like the Jesus Seminar with their fallacious "Jesus of history vs Jesus of myth" dichotomy, which is a handy one to have if you want to call yourself Christian whilst agreeing with your avowed atheist friends in high academia and believing Jesus was an only-human man who is now dead (the naturalistic anti-Christian position.)

OTOH, I am supernaturalist, accepting the reality of the Divine, and know that they are teaching "another Jesus", a counterfeit, which Scripture warns has them under the curse along with those who preach "another Gospel" to the authentic one.

2 John gives the same message to those who believe "science" can invalidate miracles and see Christ as just another historical figure, good moral teacher or otherwise: "If any man bringeth not the doctrine of Christ, receive him NOT". Accepting Jesus for who He is- Virgin-born, sinless, fully man, fully God, Risen and one day returning- is the orthodox test of Christian fellowship, in fact. (The way some anti-Christians speak, you would suppose it would be a desire to do creepy things to little boys and kill gay people in the public square.)

Yes, the Early Church did indeed baptize pagan traditions by reorienting them to celebrate Truth rather than falsehood and superstition. Christmas and Easter are examples. It was no secret at the time or now.

blessedhope Wed 09-Oct-13 01:29:33

I'm not sure how seriously I should take someone who is obviously perfectly happy with teachers engaging in anti-Christian practices, seems to not understand why parents like me choose private faith schooling, and is even "entertained" rather than seriously provoked to consider questions of ultimate meaning by my calling out of Eastern religion as contrary to Christianity [*it is*- and whoever taught you that they were compatible is better suited to entertaining than doing work on theology.] "Anti-Christian" does not mean "wanting to do physical harm to Christians"- I'll gladly give you Buddhists are peaceful. It means "in opposition to the tenets of Christianity." Which do NOT include pan(en)theistic spiritualities based on oneness, mystic global interconnectedness and denial of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh.

There are things in life where two sets of concerns must be very carefully balanced- but here, the concern of people of faith that they not hand over their children for dozens of hours a week in their formative years to an establishment which specifically contradicts their very worldview outweighs community-cohesion concerns so much that the scales break.
I am unapologetically for proper pluralism and multi-culturalism, a salad bowl NOT a melting pot, distinctive faith communities NOT an "interfaith" community. A country where discrimination at work and in public service is illegal, the state keeps order and moderates within faith communities deal with their extremists before violence is perpetrated- but people are not judged by haughty outsiders for a degree of separatism in their personal, family and social life. For example the ultra-orthodox Jews who mostly keep to themselves in one part of London are just as good citizens in my eyes as the cosmopolitan Jews who may be seen a few boroughs away mingling with a broad mix of people, holding hazy theological convictions if any, and live-and-let-live moral "standards". The right to mix socially with one's neighbors is not some sort of binding duty and separation without hatred or supremacism is not an evil in itself.

Where people treat each other respectfully as human beings without subsuming their worldview or relativizing their tradition, where calls to adopt a mushy post-modern line about "my truth" being relative and different to "your truth" are thoroughly drowned out by proud people of whatever faith encouraging honest discussion,which may or may not lead to proselytising. People like me and my Muslim and Hindu friends who object to the same tactics in state schools, seek the same solution, but ardently disagree with my theology- so it should be. We follow our books, the Book in my case, alas false religious books in theirs. We are agreed in the reality of God, the resistance to fluffy "all the different world faiths are celebrations of love'n'peace" trash, the rejection of San Francisco values.

I am especially offended by atheist "ultra-inclusivist" interpretation of a Truth they have rejected! Such people (ex. pointythings) forever focus on the inclusive aspects of the life of Jesus when dealing with Christians, utterly ignoring the EXclusive elements of faith. These people think it fair to put everyone in together on THEIR lowest-common-denominator terms. No thanks. Not my children. We are called to be separate philosophically from the world, while showing goodwill to all men, as Jesus did. He showed love to the outcast, the poor, the sinners and the tax collectors- but had He married and became a father, He would not have sent an innocent, spiritually and intellectually maturing child off every day to be taught by those who reject or compromise His message.

So long as people in a society hold different beliefs there is the possibility of conflict. That risk is a necessary consequence of freedom of religion; how we manage it is a complex question, but "cooking off" fundamental difference in a state-funded secular humanist melting pot is not even approaching a reasonable solution.

Sorry for long post but I felt the ideology which privileges "community cohesion" above practice of faith and values transference needed a properly thought out response, so you could see where I stand.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Wed 09-Oct-13 03:03:58

What does "San Francisco values" mean? Just curious.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 09-Oct-13 08:29:41

I need some historical help here. Didn't Christianity force itself upon people and nations for centuries? I don't think that was the salad bowl approach. More like the scorched earth and reseed approach.

Can't help finding the contemporary complaints about the state religion being eroded slightly hypocritical and out of date in that context.

That said, I agree that we should respect each other's views. I just prefer the Russell/Einstein Utopian ideal where all tools for division are removed (war happens between countries and religions). It is the melting pot idea at its natural secular conclusion.

alemci Wed 09-Oct-13 08:39:17

of course it did Muswell but that was politics and human nature, when the church gets entwined with the state and it was awful. The church adding in non biblical scripture and making it up as it went along. I probably would have been a heretic in those days. To me this is also like the N Ireland situation to some extent with people hiding behind religion to commit atrocities.

Hence people like Martin Luther, John Calvin springing up and the reformation. I don't think Jesus would have wanted it to be like that

it is a bit like how it is now in certain countries when religion dictates how people live their lives

alemci Wed 09-Oct-13 08:40:22

I like the salad bowl analogy. The melting pot is a bit naff.

In keeping with my Utopia, I have set up a round top table in the middle of our virtual tea room laden with cakes and tea for everyone to share.

brew cake

.... secret part of post only available to like minded people

look under the table. The Sloe Gin is there wink

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 09:14:45

We follow our books, the Book in my case, alas false religious books in theirs.

Can't you see how patronising that sounds? None of my Muslim, Hindu and Christian friends speak like that. If they did, they would not be my friends. I would not want my children educated in an establishment that taught them to look down patronisingly on those of other faiths. Of course I completely respect your choice to do so.

I don't believe I've ever focused on the life of Jesus in any way - since I do not believe in God, I am hardly in a position to do so. What I do focus on is a society that functions, and that means not enshrining privilege in law for people of particular faith where it leads to disadvantage for people of other faiths. So no discrimination against gay people by anyone. Equally, no ban on religious symbols in public life unless there is a clear and real danger to wearing/displaying these. If a nurse on a hospital ward asked to pray for me, I would not be offended but I would politely ask him/her not to do so. That's basic human courtesy. However, if said nurse then started praying for me in my presence after I had expressly asked them not to, I would feel that was rude and disrespectful. None of that is about atheist inclusiveness, it is about common decency.

Lastly, I am prepared to accept that God may exist. After all I have chosen not to believe in him. However, until I meet him face to face and have proof of his existence, your belief in him is just as much of a belief as my belief in his nonexistence is. The fact that you have made a leap of faith and chosen to accept his existence as truth does not change that. It's not an objective truth, it's your truth.

Anyhow, back to RE - I think it can be a hugely valuable subject, but it must not be allowed to become RI again under pressure from the church.

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 09:16:32

Errol I am an unashamed embracer of San Francisco values. But you knew that already. grin

ErrolTheDragon Wed 09-Oct-13 09:54:52

I think blessed is conflating neutral RE with relativism. They are entirely different things. I'm not a relativist - I don't think many scientists are.

The difference may sometimes be quite subtle and teachers - being only human - may get it wrong.

It |isn't that 'there is no right and wrong answer' (on some ethical/moral questions there pretty clearly is) - it is that it is not the job of the RE teacher or curriculum to dictate what that right or wrong answer is.

Being presented with information about a variety of religions doesn't contradict anyone's world view, unless it is a rather peculiar one which fears people having knowledge and thinking for themselves.

Errol
"... unless it is a rather peculiar one which fears people having knowledge and thinking for themselves."

That, of course, was the problem with my initial post - I wanted people to forget about religion in order to achieve my utopia, which was a dumb and unrealistic position. Much better to fully inform and teach people how to think for themselves - that's why I'd like to see Philosophy/Critical Thinking replace RE and have RE "encompassed" in that class and in History lessons.

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 10:18:05

Well put, Errol. People who don't want their children exposed to information about other religious and want RI instead of RE are - like blessed free to seek religious private provision. However, the debate is about RE in the state sector.

Relativism in the sense of 'there is no absolute right and wrong in anything' is an utterly abhorrent philosophy. However, absolutism in the sense of 'this is what is absolutely right and absolutely wrong' is just as abhorrent. It occurs both in religious belief systems (the Crusades and the Inquisition historically, the prohibition of education for girls, the assault on the sacred sites of other faiths, the settlements and land thefts currently) and in 'secular' systems such as the cult of personality in North Korea. Personally I see this as just another belief system, as Stalinism was and as indeed the veneration of Simon Bolivar was, but they are not conventional religions.

It's important that our children learn to think critically and don't accept the moral codes of others without question and good RE is vital in this.

^ it is not the job of the RE teacher or curriculum to dictate what that right or wrong answer is.^

This is the key to it all - unless a young person arrives at an understanding of morals and ethics through their own hard work and critical thinking, they can have their mind changed by literally anyone. I have no problem with people accepting a deity into their lives, but they have to do it of their own free will. Jonestown, Waco and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints tell us the dangers of having it otherwise.

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 10:18:58

I still like your utopia, MuswellHillDad, but I agree that it was an unrealistic idea.

<quaffs sloe gin>

ErrolTheDragon Wed 09-Oct-13 10:22:35

Its good when a debate actually results in someone reviewing their position. smile

I was thinking about blessed's particular objection to children engaging in practices linked to eastern religions... if they were analogous to children being made to pray or participate in a form of worship, then they shouldn't have been included as part of the regular school day. (It could be an optional extra-curricular activity, in the same way that schools can have Christian Union meetings etc.). OTOH if they were simply some sort of physical/breathing exercise with no 'spiritual' aspect at all then the correct domain might be PE or PSHE.

If only people would review their position until it was the same as mine. grin

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 11:08:02

Errol I think there are one or two Free Schools where meditation is part of the day, but I don't know if it's mandatory or if children can be withdrawn. I wouldn't like mandatory meditation any more than I would like mandatory prayer. However, I would not object at all to my children being taught useful techniques for managing exam stress, and these could include relaxation techniques. My older DD uses these to help with nightmares and finds them very helpful.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 09-Oct-13 11:17:42

In those cases, its analogous to the faith-based Free schools (and other faith schools) where prayer is part of the day. So long as the latter is allowed, no reason at all why the former shouldn't.

Relaxation techniques are a different matter entirely - I'm sure a lot of us have been to NHS or NCT pre-natal relaxation classes. That sort of thing could be useful and has absolutely nothing to do with RE!

blessedhope Fri 11-Oct-13 12:27:54

It seems my position has been badly misrepresented by those who claim to respectfully disagree with me- just for clarification:

1)I have NEVER advocated denying information about non-Christian religions or not exposing children to their beliefs. I said the school does discuss other beliefs, but from a Christian Biblical worldview not a detached position- hence our kids learn what's right and good within other religions and their flaws and falsehoods.

2)Thus, "presenting a variety of religious viewpoints" is NOT against my beliefs; presenting them without guidance as to how they relate to Truth is. The approach of saying they are all "equally valid" or implying truth is personal and subjective is anathema to us. This is why we find state school RE as generally taught unacceptable. I am disgusted by the false narrative that we want to keep our children ignorant of what non-Christians think due to "fear" of "other" ways or "difference"! I have profound theological differences with Muslims, Jews or Buddhists, not some sort of status anxiety about the fact that they aren't "one of us". That is an accurate description of the reaction that racists have to non-whites and migrants... not a true reflection of evangelical Christianity.

3)My DC's school does not support "looking down on" people of other faiths, but rejecting their false religious teachings. In fact, respectful interaction is encouraged as it is a good testimony to Jesus Christ which may help the prospects of conversion along, in addition to it just being the [morally absolute] wink right thing to do. As stated, I know atheists who sneer at the concept of faith in God, but they still treat me decently; one can think somebody's beliefs are wrong, irrational or even delusional without it affecting how you view them as a fellow human being. Exactly like Jesus did!

If you take such umbrage at the very fact I believe some religious teachings are [shock horror!!] false, that I see these questions as questions of Truth not of personal feelings or sincerity or social usefulness, then I cannot avoid the conclusion you are dangerously relativistic.

pointythings refers to Jonestown and Waco being potential consequences
unless a young person arrives at an understanding of morals and ethics through their own hard work and critical thinking because "anyone could change their mind". I submit that after going through the sort of Christian school I support our children, with God's Word to back up their conviction, will be less willing to "change their mind" at the word of a charismatic [small "c"!] leader than a young person exposed to a whole range of possible answers with no firm direction given.

One reason frequently given for joining cults and spiritually abusive groups is to seek, in an inevitably distorted form, the order and certainty of transcendent moral authority in a post-modern society where so many have been indoctrinated into thinking no such infallible guide could possibly exist, told to have it their way, that life is what you make of it. The exhortation to "develop your own morals" only exacerbates the problem; providing a balance between the authority of Truth and the imperfection of man as my faith does more properly resolves it.

All in all, those defending the educational philosophy I am against only reinforce my confidence that not trusting them with our kids' formation is unequivocally the right thing to do.

pointythings Fri 11-Oct-13 13:10:12

But blessed you are equating 'firm direction' with subscribing to a faith (in your case the Christian faith, in your friends' cases Islam or Judaism or Hinduism). You are unable to accept that it is possible to give children a high quality moral compass that is not faith based. That is where the disagreement lies - in your assumption that secular morality is always, always, always inferior to religious morality. The fact that many people with no religious beliefs live good, decent moral lives (and do not end up in cults) simply gives the lie to that assertion. We will never agree on this.

Common humanity dictates that we have common morals. All of us - or at least those of us who do not have personality disorders or sociopathic tendencies - are conditioned to live by moral codes that support a cohesive society. Things like not killing, not stealing, being courteous - there are others, it's a long list - those are all things which are readily taught because they are survival traits that make human society function. The underlying belief system of that teaching does not have to be religious for it to work. Personally I would label these morals as good, because I am not a sociopath. Having a set of laws and rules which work for everyone makes me feel safe and secure and allows me to operate on the assumption that most people are fundamentally decent. Everyone needs boundaries, adults as well as children, and human fallibility is one of the reasons why. However, those boundaries do not need to be set from a faith perspective in order for them to work.

And I will always have a problem with people who go through life believing that the tenets of other faiths are false and that their own are true. It's arrogant. I don't share your belief in God, but I am willing to accept that I may end up finding out I am wrong. Are you willing to accept the possibility that you may find yourself in the afterlife, learning that actually the tenets of your Christian faith are not the truth and that your Muslim/Hindu/Jewish friends were right all along?

By the way, I unreservedly apologise for describing your children's school as 'fundamentalist' and 'indoctrinating'. That too was patronising. We are all trying to do the best for our children, we just disagree on what that is.

sashh Fri 11-Oct-13 14:57:35

* Nowadays chldren learn about all five (or six) of the World's religions*

No they don't, not in every school.

Coupon Fri 11-Oct-13 15:24:01

> No they don't, not in every school.

If they're following the National Curriculum they do.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 11-Oct-13 15:54:07

>hence our kids learn what's right and good within other religions and their flaws and falsehoods.

do your children get to hear what others perceive as the flaws and falsehoods within your religion too?

Blessed - I'm sure you absolutely believe you're doing the right thing because you genuinely believe that what you believe is The Truth. But it doesn't sound as though you're equipping your children to make a genuine free choice, and this may backfire on your good intentions...

>I submit that after going through the sort of Christian school I support our children, with God's Word to back up their conviction, will be less willing to "change their mind" ...
IME they're actually quite likely to change their mind later on - not to follow a cult but to lose their faith.

I'm not sure who you think is taking umbrage that you believe some religious teachings are false. confused Atheists tend to believe that a lot of religious teachings are false.... but that it is not the job of the teacher conveying information to say which are true or which are false. That isn't relativism - its simply not imposing a particular set of beliefs (which may be correct or may not be) on pupils.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 11-Oct-13 15:55:31

>If they're following the National Curriculum they do.

More accurately, the LEA's SACRE - but VA faith and 'free' schools unfortunately don't have to do this.

pointythings Fri 11-Oct-13 18:01:59

Errol I think that might have been aimed at me... I voiced the opinion that believing your faith was true and everyone else's was false was a form of arrogance because after all you can't really know, only believe.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 11-Oct-13 18:10:53

I don't think its arrogant to believe something is true or false - so long as you recognise that its a belief and you may yourself be wrong.

This is the reason why I believe grin that RE should be unbiased. I firmly believe there is no god, but I don't believe that therefore my child should be told as fact in school that anyone who believes there is a god/gods is wrong.

pointythings Fri 11-Oct-13 18:49:10

That's exactly it, Errol - it's the lack of acceptance that you might be wrong which is the thing that I have trouble with. I work in the sciences, we live every moment in the knowledge that what we have found might well be proved wrong by the next generation of researchers. It's a good way of learning humility...

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