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

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

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

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


FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 15:12:07

There are numerous topics my children have only covered in school from a religious perspective. There are whole countries they have only discussed in RE in terms of religion and have never studied in any other subject. They have learned a lot about religious views on karma and disability but have had no secular teaching on disability whatsoever. That time could could have been more suitably used teaching children about secular deaf culture, how sign language is used creatively by deaf people, or about aspects of autism or people who are blind - their historical contribution, current culture, fight for rights, and so on. But to do that we'd have to believe that disability is as important in diversity as religion is.

Those are just a couple of examples of many things that are largely secular and schools can have claimed to have taught through RE, when the religious perspective on them is a tiny, fairly irrelevant part of the overall cultural topic. Adding together the time spent on RE and PSHE would give schools a big chunk of time to teach some kind of social studies course which dealt with human rights and diversity, philosophy and anthropology.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 15:32:27

The focus of RE is not history, geography, history of art, social diversity and equality or human rights; it is religious belief. It simply mentions these other things in passing
Not true.
Where do you live, FreyaSnow? I'd imagine there are enough RME teachers on mumsnet that one could invite you to come and observe a few lessons/read their course outlines.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 15:45:04

Some of the subjects in Freya's post are covered in Citizenship. DD has Citizenship once a fortnight and RE once a fortnight - hardly overkill.

Decoy Sun 19-May-13 16:07:43

The word "indoctrination" is way over the top. If school R.E. lessons were "indoctrinating" anyone, then why aren't all adults believers?

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 19-May-13 16:11:17

The word "indoctrination" is way over the top. For RE lessons, absolutely. For broadly Christian compulsory worship in all schools, that is exactly the word.

Decoy Sun 19-May-13 16:25:34

Indoctrination implies that you're not able to question or examine what is presented. With the exception of a few very strictly religious schools, that's not the case at all.

I'm sure most of us here went to assemblies as children, but somehow we've escaped with our questionning abilities intact instead of becoming fundamentalist automatons grin

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 19-May-13 16:32:07

How is a child in assembly going to question what is being said? Stand up and shout questions at the teacher? You can ask questions in RE class, you are expected to critically evaluate things. That is just not the case when you are in a religious assembly.

pigletmania Sun 19-May-13 16:42:25

Yabvvvu even though you don't believe in religion, it's a big part of society, and influences many things. You are never going to find a school which does not teach it. Knowledge is power, do you wan your dd to be ignorant of the different members of society and ther beliefs and culture, some of which are heavily influenced by religion. You cannt keep her in a cocoon sorry!

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 17:17:04

Iggi, I don't need to see how it is taught; I have two children studying RE in secondary school. I know the syllabus. The focus of RE is religious education; that is why it is called religious education. It is hardly controversial to say so.

Bunbaker, my children at different schools do two hours of RE a week and one hour of PSHE a week. PSHE has to cover every type of diversity (the other 4 main strands - race, disability, gender and sexual orientation) other than religion. There is no explanation from anyone on here as to why religious belief should get its own subject when every other element of legally protected human diversity does not. Race includes nationality and ethnic and cultural identity and origin, which is surely as important to know as religion, yet it doesn't have its own subject.

Other topics like politics, philosophy, sociology and anthropology do not have their own subject and also get crammed into PSHE along with all the other stuff PSHE has to cover like mental health, environmental responsibility, budgeting, drugs, alcohol and so on.

What is it about religion that makes it more important than disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, sociology (so the study of the whole of industrialised society), anthropology (so the study of cultures), philosophy or politics? Why are all these subjects attached on to PSHE, geography etc and yet RE has a whole subject to itself? Why is RE more important? Why can't it be attached on to geography, history, art etc where relevant?

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 17:31:37

"If school R.E. lessons were "indoctrinating" anyone, then why aren't all adults believers?"

Most adults are believers. Clearly the indoctrination doesn't take on everyone, and some of the rest grow out of it.

Ask any child, though, and the vast majority will say that of course they believe in God. They have been told the stories as fact and they have never thought to question them.

What would you call that if not indoctrination?

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 17:33:10

"Indoctrination implies that you're not able to question or examine what is presented"

That sounds exactly like religious education at the age of 3.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 17:42:53

Freya I often forget most people on mumsnet are English.
In Scotland subject is called RMPS (rel, moral and philosophical studies) which reflects what is actually taught.

KingRollo Sun 19-May-13 18:39:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 18:56:01

Look up the statistics, KingRollo.

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 19:02:01

Iggi, every time I read anything about the Scottish education system I regret that we did not move to Scotland, when we had the opportunity, when my eldest was about to start school.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 20:24:21

"my children at different schools do two hours of RE a week and one hour of PSHE a week"

What years are they in? DD is in year 8 and I am puzzled why they get four times the number of RE lessons that DD does. RE isn't given a higher status than Citizenship at DD's school. Having said that I believe that RE is considered a more academic subject than Citizenship which is thought of as a soft option at GCSE level.

Those of you who don't want their children exposed to any sort of religious education at school - what are you afraid of? If your children decide to becomes Christians/Buddhists/Hindus/Muslims, what is the worst that could happen? In the grand scheme of things does it really matter?

Wuldric Sun 19-May-13 20:29:14

I am a card carrying atheist, and to me, studying religion is akin to studying witchcraft, tableturning and other such superstitions. Nevertheless, a huge number of the population actually believe in different flavours of this stuff, and it's interesting to understand where they are coming from. Think of it as history.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 19-May-13 20:31:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 21:14:07

I have just lifted this from DD's school website

"RE is a compulsory subject which, at key stage 3, includes the study of beliefs and the influences on individual’s lives plus a study of some of the religions which play a role in the lives of people living in Britain today. We study Christianity, Judaism and Islam in years 7-8. From September 2012 year 9 students will look at contemporary issues such as Prejudice, Crime and punishment and Care for the world from the viewpoint of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
At key stage 4 all pupils are entered for the short course GCSE which includes topics such as Family life, Social Cohesion and Life and death issues as well as a unit asking why people do or don’t believe in the existence of God. These issues are studied from the viewpoint of Christianity and Judaism."

cuillereasoupe Sun 19-May-13 21:22:47

Knowledge is power, do you wan your dd to be ignorant of the different members of society and ther beliefs and culture, some of which are heavily influenced by religion.

So how do vast quantities of children on the continent reach competent, tolerant adulthood without it?

Good post Freya.

When you think about it there are lots of interesting subjects almost completely squeezed out of the curriculum, so RE does seem very generously provided for, especially without more obviously including morality and philosophy as appears to be the case in Scotland.

I always thought anthropology sounded interesting.

cuillereasoupe Sun 19-May-13 21:29:30

Yep, I agree with Freya too.

semplew123 Wed 23-Apr-14 04:23:38

Poor for whom? Not learning something more engaging would make children much poorer, I can assure you. Religion won't get children anywhere - but Maths, English, Science, IT, Physical Education etc. will. These teach children both life skills and help introduce them into improving the human condition. Engineering, Science and Medicine are all very important areas - ones which are "actually" are proven to assist us in life.

Delphiniumsblue Wed 23-Apr-14 06:40:01

This thread is almost a year old- why not start your own, semplew?
Children can't understand much without learning about religion - a lot of history, current affairs, art and literature would be a mystery to them.

Lncmummy1 Fri 11-Jul-14 20:50:01

Acually u have it a bit wrong it's not all Muslims are terrorist but all terrorists are Muslim sorry to get involved but just fort u should all get facts straight

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