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Church of England wants better RE

(188 Posts)
MuswellHillDad Sat 05-Oct-13 21:09:09

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

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.


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.

MuswellHillDad Sun 06-Oct-13 14:37:20

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

MuswellHillDad Sun 06-Oct-13 14:39:17

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

PeggyCarter Sun 06-Oct-13 16:13:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

MuswellHillDad Sun 06-Oct-13 18:14:25

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.

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 07:55:41


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!

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.

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 08:24:49


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.

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 11:37:35


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."

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 11:44:53


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.

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 11:47:53


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?

MuswellHillDad Mon 07-Oct-13 11:54:59


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

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