Voluntary Aided (ie State) school censors GCSE science papers! WTAF

(39 Posts)
AuntyEntropy Sat 12-Oct-13 21:37:11

I know that it's bad form to link and run in an OP, and you're meant to express your own viewpoint in an insightful way, but I'm struggling to get past "WTAF! They censored the GCSE exam papers!"

www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/11/jewish-school-censored-gcses-evolution

For those who CBA to follow the link (fair enough), this is an Orthodox Jewish girls school, and there does not appear to be any room for misunderstanding - they blacked out the questions relating to evolution.

camilamoran Fri 18-Oct-13 10:01:41

If children from a religious tradition that rejects evolution are at a state school, I wouldn't want them to be forced to accept evolution. But I would want them to be taught two things:

(i) That it's not 'just a theory' that you can choose to ignore while accepting the rest of science.

(ii) That it's not a question of science versus religion. There are many people who believe in God and also believe in science. There are many religious positions you can take up on the relationship between scripture and experience of the world (which is basically what this debate is about).

Then they can decide themselves what to believe.

pointyfangs Tue 15-Oct-13 15:15:44

Thanks, Greythorne. I sometimes find it difficult to believe that there are still educated literate people out there who do not understand the scientific definition of a theory. Good explanation. I'd suggest, claig that you look up the works of Karl Popper - he's very clear on the idea that you can only disprove (falsify) a theory (i.e. a bunny rabbit in the Precambrian), not prove it, and that a valid theory stands until it is disproved.

The simplest example is the hypothesis that all swans are white. You could go through life and have this be true for you simply if you never come across a black swan. Obviously you'd have to accept the idea that all documentaries and images involving black swans were faked, but that's a small sacrifice to make. Until the day you go to your local pond and tehre it is - a black swan. Theory falsified, time to build a new one.

I went to a state school in Holland and had a girl in my class who belonged to a very Fundamentalist Christian group who did not believe in the validity of the Theory of Evolution. She became very upset in biology class when we started the topic. The teacher calmly told her and her parents that they were not required to believe it, they merely had to be able to produce it for the exams. Can't see why this school doesn't take the same tack. If they were private and free to follow their own curriculum it wuold be different, but they chose to take tax payers' money and that comes with responsibilities.

Greythorne Tue 15-Oct-13 07:49:41

A scientific theory means something which has evidence to support it and no scientific evidence against it.

As soon as somebody discovers bunny rabbits in the pre-Cambrian, the theory of evolution will be blown out if the water.

But so far nobody has come up with anything that disproves it.

Something with conclusive evidence is a fact.

Something with no conclusive evidence but lots if supporting evidence and crucially, no evidence against is a theory.

Theory does not mean vague idea that might be right or wrong.0

nkf Tue 15-Oct-13 07:41:09

I expect the exam board will have to act in this. You can't tamper with exam papers.

englishteacher78 Tue 15-Oct-13 07:27:30

The problem in this argument seems to be the different meanings of theory. The Theory of evolution doesn't mean that it's just an idea Darwin had with no evidence. It's the best fit with current evidence.
Also, perfectly possible to teach it in Science with a 'Scientist believe....' they don't have to believe it they have to learn it.
My RSS students don't believe all the major religions (and some minor ones) but they learn about them!
People who can't cope with their faith being challenged annoy me a little.

edam Mon 14-Oct-13 22:59:19

claig - actually you could just as well say the pilgrim fathers went to America because they were frustrated that they weren't allowed to persecute other people. They wanted to force everyone else to live by their rules.

As for evolution 'only' being a theory - so is gravity. Yet I can't see any pigs floating... theory in everyday speech is different from theory in a scientific sense, which means a rational explanation supported by a body of proof that stands up to testing.

Caitlin17 Mon 14-Oct-13 22:33:08

The comment about parents in Liverpool funding schools in Devon which they can't use is ridiculous. What I meant was 2 schools in your catchment being paid for by your council tax only one of which is available for your children but the other parent has the choice of both.

marriedinwhiteisback Mon 14-Oct-13 07:43:55

When I was at school there were questions on the Eng Lit paper about Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice. We had only scratched the surfaces of that play and book. We had focused on Great Expectationa and Henry IV Part I in the Upper Fifth and were told to disregard the other questions. Blacking them out might have been helpful for the handful of numpties who answered the wrong questions.

I think the question is more one of whether it is allowed to delete a question from a public exam paper than about the rights and wrongs of part of the curriculum not being taught.

sparklekitty Mon 14-Oct-13 07:40:19

Absolutely fine if you want to send your children to a very conservatively religious school, fine if the school doesn't want to teach evolution as long as the parents are aware.

NOT fine for them to be state funded. All state funded schools should be taught the same thing, level playing field and all that.

Very worrying they had the papers open long enough to censor them all though!

SilverApples Mon 14-Oct-13 07:35:05

If it's a state school, then it should come under the same expectations of teaching the NC as any other VA funded school.
Tampering with the exams is illegal and should have been unnecessary, at 15 the girls should have been able to look at the questions and think 'Can't answer that one, haven't been taught about it' without needing any censorship.
I wonder what their last OFSTED inspection found in relation to subject coverage?

claig Mon 14-Oct-13 02:17:26

Apparently, the Haredi community in Belgium is under pressure to teach evolution in their schools

"Earlier this summer, the Flemish government issued decrees that would force both state-funded and private Jewish schools to teach mandatory curriculums that include evolutionary biology, human reproduction and other subjects considered taboo by Antwerp’s 18,000 haredi Jews."

www.jta.org/2013/08/14/news-opinion/world/antwerps-haredi-schools-forced-to-chose-between-censorship-and-their-subsidies

claig Mon 14-Oct-13 02:08:09

I have just read an interesting article about the Haredi in the Daily Telegraph. From reading it, my guess is that Haredi children would probably choose their faith school over a state school. Most Haredi schools are private, this particular one is state-funded.

People in Liverpool fund state schools in Devon that they can't use and Haredi parents fund state schools that they would maybe not wish to use.

I am wary of the State interfering in the traditions of communities and how they choose to live.

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8326339/Inside-the-private-world-of-Londons-ultra-Orthodox-Jews.html

Caitlin17 Mon 14-Oct-13 01:53:44

This seems such a self evidently wrong thing to do I can't see why anyone would defend it.

I'm inclined to agree with you about faith schools. The poster defending this said the parents pay taxes sobwhy can't they have the school they want. Well most of us pay taxes, but parents who choose to practice a particular faith are getting a better deal than parents who dont follow a faith since the faith parents have the choice of the ordinary state school as well as the faith school. To turn her argument on its head she's asking certain parents to fund a school their children can never use.
Oh I know that is simplistic as we don't hypothecate tax, but I don't think the "paying tax" argument makes it all OK.

NoComet Mon 14-Oct-13 01:30:24

Freedom for young people to form their own opinions religious, moral and political is fundamental to education in a liberal democratic society.

So no I'm not happy at a state funded school behaving this way.

Personally I believe all faith schools, state and private should strongly be discouraged.

NoComet Mon 14-Oct-13 01:20:49

Any child of Secondary age not being allowed television, access to the internet and the freedom to learn about the world they live in religious or secular, good and bad worries me a lot.

I stop mincing my words with the children of devote Christians when they get to Y6 not Y11.

Parents have the right to control what their children only when they are little children, once they go to secondary school they are old enough to start understanding there are many points of view.

Parents may not like it, but that freedom is to me a fundamental human right.

joanofarchitrave Mon 14-Oct-13 01:04:26

Interfering with the exam is grade inflation. If the children haven't been taught chunks of the syllabus, then blacking out the questions relating to those chunks is material help to them - being able to spot the questions that you can answer given the knowledge you have is an exam skill.

claig Mon 14-Oct-13 01:01:18

Maybe they do teach it, I don't really know.
But as you say it is a theory. As far as I know there is no absolute proof that we are descendants of an amoeba. I am sure they know what the theory of evolution is, but maybe they don't give the theory much credence. Does it really matter at the end of the day?

Whathaveiforgottentoday Mon 14-Oct-13 00:54:03

I understand where you are coming from and having taught many students who do not 'believe' in evolution, I tread carefully around this topic. However I don't consider evolution a belief but a theory with a substantial volume of supporting evidence. Therefore its not about teaching about beliefs. They can choose not to belief it, but not expose them to the theory and its evidence and allow the students to make their own mind up, is wrong in my opinion.
If their faith is so strong, surely teaching it wouldn't do any harm. I was taught about religion and it hasn't done me any harm - I chose to reject it, they can do the same with evolution once they've understood it.

claig Sun 13-Oct-13 23:42:50

I am sure that the Amish or the Plymouth Brethren have beliefs that I do not go along with, but I don't think that the state should force them to go against their beliefs.

America was founded by pilgrims who left this country to escape repression and to be able to exercise their faith freely. I think in modern Britain, we should allow people to follow their faiths without forcing them to change to fit in with what the State thinks is best provided they are doing no harm.

claig Sun 13-Oct-13 23:38:36

Yes, you are right. I don't know what else they do.
But in the grand scheme of things, I am not sure if they are causing any harm by omitting some things from the curriculum that they disagree with.

I believe in live and let live and accept that they have different views on some topics to me, and I don't believe in forcing them to go against their beliefs or traditions on issues that I do not believe are of overriding importance.

edam Sun 13-Oct-13 23:29:22

Claig - if the school will go to these extremes over biology, who knows what havoc they might be wreaking on those other subjects too? Eng lit for example - plenty of books have caused outrage amongst those with narrow minds.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Sun 13-Oct-13 23:19:28

Gravity does not go against their fundamental religious beliefs.

Wouldn't surprise me if that wasn't being taught either as it's just God pushing things down.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sun 13-Oct-13 23:15:33

It bothers me that they may not be teaching evolution and I believe (not going to double check as should be working not Mumsnetting) that Gove changed the ruling saying that it is mandatory to teach the theory to evolution in state schools so they are breaking regulations. If the parents don't like it, take them out of state education.

Just realised - i'm supporting something Gove has said!

claig Sun 13-Oct-13 23:05:43

'Children being taught only what coincides with their parents' beliefs bothers me too.'

They aren't only taught what coincides with their parents' beliefs. They are taught maths and English and French and history and geography and biology and chemistry and physics.

It is just evolution that their some of their parents and grandparents and great grandparents do not agree with and would rather was not taught in school. That might bother you, but I think that their parents' wishes should take precedence over your wishes when it comes to the education of their children over a matter that is core to their Haredi community's beliefs.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 13-Oct-13 22:51:49

>It is not an issue that bother most of us

children being denied access to basic scientific education bothers me a lot. Children being taught only what coincides with their parents' beliefs bothers me too.

How can anyone truly develop their own 'core beliefs' (rather than merely adopting their family's) if they are narrowly educated?

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