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Disestablishmentarianist - re non church schools?

(54 Posts)
Gumdrop Fri 21-May-04 13:54:14

OK I'll put my cards on the table first. I'm a very very humanist Quaker attender (sporadic), married to a secular Jew.

My DDs school isn't a church or other faith school, just a Village J&I school.

I have no objection to nativity stories BUT don't like having my 5 year old child coming back to me and saying things like "Jesus died to save us from our sins". I mean, what sins might those be?

Why does religion as opposed to a more philosophically based "morals" have a place on the curriculum?

hercules Fri 21-May-04 14:05:21

Partly because such a huge percentage of the world belong to some sort of organised religion. I amsurprised they are being given such stories if not a church school.I would ask why.

gothicmama Fri 21-May-04 14:05:34

I do not think any religion should be in school unless in a tell about all kinda way but morals and responsibilities should be after all most are the same in any faith or belief system

shortcake Fri 21-May-04 14:07:38

I'm a Christian but I agree that I would prefer religion to be taught at home - it would make it so much easier for me too - rather than my children being taught all sorts of things that i don't agree with.

Crunchie Fri 21-May-04 14:23:11

Gumdrop that is exactly what I have an issue with DD5 comes home and says such things, then when I say that may not be exactly correct she tells me I am wrong as Mr Watts must be right since he's the headmaster!! I am jewish and dh is Christian, I wish simple morality was taught along with reliion as a subject. Then you could still have a Christmas time play bringing songs/stories from around the world. Most major religions have festivals at Christmas and Easter (as well as inbetween) I wish it was more normal to see all of it.

marialuisa Fri 21-May-04 14:39:37

I'm an RC who wishes that all atate schools were secular.

But as to the religion in schools question: part of my job is awarding University scholarships to international students. I read their high school transcripts as part of the decision making proces and about 90% of countries seem to have some sort of compulsory religion in schools. There's Buddhist studies in Thailand, Islamic studies in Pakistan, Algeria etc. and "Thinking philosophy of Mao Tse Tung/Deng Xiao Ping" (which seems to equate to a state religion) in china.

Blu Fri 21-May-04 14:52:39

Gumdrop, I think your question is a valid and urgent one.

I believe that the requirement to hold an act of Christian Worship is shortly to be reviewed, but there is a wider question of unpicking the whole history of the relationship between education and the church, both in the passing of legislation such as the National Curriculum, and in direct provision and management of schools.

The only state schools within 15 miles of my brothers children are rural village CofE schools - and my nephew informed me that I couldn't be expecting a baby, and my DP could not be DS's father because we are not married.

tamum Fri 21-May-04 15:00:33

Sorry to just drop in and be flippant, but on the other side of the coin to Blu's nephew, my dd asked me when she was 4 "do some people get married *before* they have babies?" (her emphasis, not mine). So many of her nursery teachers had babies and then got married that she assumed that was what everyone did, but was clearly puzzled then that she wasn't in our wedding pics

Tinker Fri 21-May-04 18:49:04

Agree, agree, agree that there's no place for religion in schools. Hope very much that the compulsory act of worship is reviewed and removed. Have to brace myself every time my daughter comes out with this "Jesus died for us" stuff and do the "Hmm, well that's what *some* people believe". I get really angry about this indoctrination but what do you do? Ask for your child to be removed every time God or Jesus are going to be mentioned? Aargh!

expatkat Fri 21-May-04 18:58:24

Gumdrop, I had a Quaker education and loved being educated with philosophically based morals--Quaker tenets really--rather than the harcore stuff I was learning in Greek Orthodox Sunday school. Is Sunday school prevalent here? That seems to me a good compromise for people hoping to give their children a religious education. Kids get a secular education during the week, and a religious education on weekends *if* that's what their parents want for them.

Blu Fri 21-May-04 18:58:33


eddm Fri 21-May-04 19:05:08

Think you win the award for longest word in the title of a thread - but I may start one on antidisestablishmentarianism just to go one better
My neice came home from one of those kids clubs then run in the school holidays singing 'I'm a sinner, I'm a sinner'. Really upset my BIL and SIL.

SenoraPostrophe Fri 21-May-04 19:07:15

tamum - lol.

When we announced our wedding, a friend's son said "what, again? " (think I'll buy her the Mummy Laid an Egg book).

On religious schools, I agree. I was quite upset that the government didn't take the opportunity to abolish them all when Muslim groups started complaining of discrimination.

muddaofsuburbia Fri 21-May-04 19:14:18

I'm really shocked by some of the stories your children are coming home with. I'm a Christian youth worker which basically means I am invited into schools to give the Christian assemblies that all the teachers are loathe to do themselves (understandably).

I would *never* dream of telling the kids *any* of the stuff that some of the examples here have had jammed down their throat - it's thoroughly irresponsible.

When taking an assembly I will only ever say "Christians believe" or "the Bible says" or "Jesus taught". In the schools I'm involved with (church and not) I would be out on my ear and banned if I'd said anything close to Gumdrop's experience.

As a real bible bashing evangelical born again scary Christian, I would much rather that wishy washy farcical nominal "acts of worship" were removed from the curriculum and that people of all faiths were invited in to share their own experiences and beliefs. Children and young people should be allowed to make their own decisions about something as personal and possibly life changing as having a faith (or not).

Historical religion definitely has a place on the curriculum, as do the traditional stories of faith groups, but real life faith should be experienced and explored - it cannot be "taught".

hercules Fri 21-May-04 19:24:41

I teach re in secondary and am just about an atheist. I always teach religions as "they believe". However i have observed christian teachers in our comprehensive teach it as truth. The kids see right through this though.
Dh is catholic and i am happy for ds to go to acatholic school and be brought up this way.
If I wasnt then I would not allow my child to attend any form of worship.
I personally think the fact that some sort of worship has to be included in assembly is ridiculous.
It has limited where I can work as many schools expect the re teacher to lead assemblies and run christian union. I steer well clear of such schools.
If your child is in a non church school you really should be insistrent that religion is not taught as being fact.
I think it is important that kids are taught re in the same way they are taught history but about it rather than to indoctrinate.
There were some strange teachers on my courase who felt it wa their role to indoctrinate rather than teach.

Parents should have the right to send their child to a faith school if that is their faith in the same way an atheist should have the right to send their child to a school that supports their atheist views.

hoxtonchick Fri 21-May-04 19:38:05

I went to a Quaker school too, expatkat, I hope yours was as lovely as mine (and I'm a committed atheist with a Jewish mum & paternal grandfather who was a vicar. Just a bit mixed up....).

expatkat Fri 21-May-04 19:47:49

What a coincidence, hoxtonchick. Yes, it was a lovely school which unfortunately struggled hard with its messages of "simplicity" and "moderation" in an opulent suburb where 17-yr-old kids got BMWs for their birthday. I loved the school, but not the suburb. Are Quaker schools quite prevalent in the UK? I've never heard of any here. Glad you liked yours too. [Sorry for the hijack, Gumdrop.]

OldieMum Fri 21-May-04 20:33:39

I spent a few days at a CofE primary school recently. It was a lovely place, with a strong moral ethos, but I was taken aback by the content of the school assembly. The local vicar came in with a rambling account of an obscure part of the Old Testament which would, I imagine, have alienated the Muslim and Hindu children sitting in the audience. The head teacher then gave a talk based on the idea of justice. She told the school that the world is often unjust and we have to learn to accept this, and not complain that 'it's not fair'. I thought this was a confusing thing to say to such young children. Of course, we don't want children to complain about everything, but they also need to learn to oppose injustice when it's wrong.

More generally, I agree that the whole issue of Church schools needs to be addressed. The basic problem, I understand, is that the 1944 Education Act incorporated Church Schools into the state system on terms which give them a great deal of autonomy regarding religious teaching and how they choose their intake. In our area, south west of Oxford, the only way in which I could avoid dd getting assemblies like the one above would be to pay for her to go to a private school.

hoxtonchick Fri 21-May-04 20:59:24

[sorry, continuing hijack]. Look here for Quaker schools in England expatkat. Mine was Bootham in York. It was a very nurturing environment which encouraged the individual (e.g. I went to Cambridge along with 5 or 6 other people in my year but my less academic brother was equally happy). We did quite a lot of joint activities with other Quaker schools, & generally had a very nice time. I would very happily send ds somewhere similar but there aren't any in London.

aloha Fri 21-May-04 23:02:50

Don't believe in religious schools, feel very sad that they exist. Think they are morally wrong. Think religion is immoral too. Will teach my child that myths have their place but they aren't real. Of course there are people who manage to be religious and have a good morals but I would personally be extremely upset if ds turned out to believe in any god. I would still love him, but would feel I had failed as a parent.

aloha Fri 21-May-04 23:04:34

Posted quickly - I really do know people who are religious and decent nice people. But I think religion per se is a bad thing.

aloha Fri 21-May-04 23:06:14

And think religion indoctrination and worship of any kind has not place in state education. Of course think that people absolutely have the right to go to church and believe what they want in their private lives.

SofiaAmes Fri 21-May-04 23:06:38

I grew up in the usa where all state schools are secular. Howver religion is taught as part of the history classes. I find that I seem to know more about all the religions than most people I meet here in the uk who went to religious schools where they really only learned about one religion. I think knowing about other people's beliefs has to help to make one more tolerant of other's customs. I am planning to go back to the usa by the time my children are of school age partially because I want them to go to a secular school (both dh and I are adamant atheists).

aloha Fri 21-May-04 23:17:42

Bugger - didn't intend to post on this. Got tempted!
Would vastly prefer secular schools myself. Then I wouldn't have a home/school conflict, which I really don't want.

robinw Sat 22-May-04 07:31:06

message withdrawn

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