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Superstitious crap-peddling in non-church school, how to deal with it?

(538 Posts)

DS (6, in Year 1) came home from school today talking about what he's going to give up for Lent. I asked him if he understood why he was supposed to be giving up things for Lent (of course he had no idea) and made sure he knew that he didn't have to and I would be doing no such thing, and we had a little talk about superstitions.
I am seriously pissed off with this and want to speak to the school about it. We live in a very multicultural area and I want to know A) if all the 6 year old Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and whatever else are trotting home stuffed with this crap and if not, how can I get DS exempt from it? Just because we are English does not mean we are CofE, I am a hardline atheist and DS dad and I have been raising him with as little superstition as possible.
I do not think it's appropriate for a group of culturally-mixed 6 year olds to be fed this sort of bullshit (which is going to be beyond most of them anyway) - I have no problem with DC being taught about the various mythology brands but the actual practicing of this nonsense should not be suggested to them at school.

MerryMarigold Wed 09-Mar-11 15:48:13

Springchicken. First calm down. It's quite likely they were just talking about it as it was 'pancake day' ie. shrove tuesday, what is shrove tuesday, beginning of lent, etc. And then talking about how some people give stuff up. I very much doubt it was a command to give something up for Lent! If that were my son, he would probably decide he wants to do it too. Please find out what happened before jumping to a concluson. (I'm a Christian but I don't give up anything for Lent).

MerryMarigold Wed 09-Mar-11 15:49:18

OOps. Just realised you are SGB! Now I understand!!!

nickelprincess Wed 09-Mar-11 15:49:51

SGB, it will be a normal bog-standard discussion that all schools have.

like Merry said - just discussing where it comes from.

that's all.
do not panic.

(i'm sooooo ocnvinced your children are going to grow up to be born-again christians....)

Well it's more than that as the school has a visiting vicar, and it was him telling DC this. I am in general making sure that DS understands that Reverend B is not necessarily right about everything and that he is just saying what he thinks....
But I would be equally put out if the school had a visiting Imam telling the DC what to give up for Ramadan (that is a reasonable equivalent, isn't it? I am not trying to be specifically offensive there, just not all that well iformed on Islamic tradition/particular festivals), wouldn't you?

OopsDoneItAgain Wed 09-Mar-11 15:55:28

Out of interest, would you be so cross if your child had come home talking about a Sikh festival or a Buddhist one? No, thought not.

Possibly, just possibly, they were teaching the children about an imporant time of year for christians - lent is after all part of the lead up to easter. Christianity is part of the 'very multicultural area' you mention. It would be odd if your child were taught about all the other world religions and not this one tbh.

I am an atheist, however my DS (5) is a born again christian since starting our local (C of E) school grin I balance the views that come home, but for now he chooses to believe school. I am not threatened by that. I want him to make up his own mind.

nickelprincess Wed 09-Mar-11 15:55:55

yes, you're right, it is the closest equivalent.

you've also got to remember that priests/vicars tend to be very singular in their vision - so they will talk about god and jesus as they see them - fact.

but, i agree, it is good to stick with, that's what he believes, and do the same for any other religious opinion, and for any non-religious opinion too.

AMumInScotland Wed 09-Mar-11 15:56:15

If he didn't know why he was supposed to be giving something up for Lent, it doesn't sound like they've peddled much of the "superstition" to him at all! He'll probably come back in due course telling you what he's going to do for Diwali etc as well.

OopsDoneItAgain Wed 09-Mar-11 15:56:23

Ah boo, a bit of x posts!

MerryMarigold Wed 09-Mar-11 15:56:38

I would be upset if your ds was singled out because he is white and English (so obviously he is CofE grin). That would be racist too. If the vicar was just in to talk about pancake day, lent etc. and people give stuff up, EVEN that you could give something up if you wanted (to all the kids) then I would not be upset. It is a good discipline in some ways, teaches self control etc, regardless of any 'mythological' links.

Look, the root of my concern is that in a non-church school (very deliberately chosen as a non-church school) in a culturally mixed area, DC are being encouraged to engage in superstitious practices eg they are being told to participate rather than informed about the mythology and rituals - I have no problem with the latter.

DillyDaydreaming Wed 09-Mar-11 16:02:26

Just use it as a chance to talk about different beliefs and make sure he understands why some people do this. It's no big deal for non-Christians and he doesn't need to give anything up.

On the other hand it's also a good opportunity to talk about why even some non-Christian folk discuss giving things up for Lent even when they don't believe in it all. We are in a rich part of the world and sometimes it's a time to reflect on our excesses. Doesn't have to have a religious overtone though.

Pre-Christianity it would have been a lean time of the year with store cupboards from the previous harvest running low and the build up to Spring and New Life once more. People would have been much more careful with food and some things might indeed have been given up until farming started in earnest once more.

ObscureReference Wed 09-Mar-11 16:04:18

I have nothing of value to add, sorry, but can I hijack here and ask why Do we give up things for lent? blush Thanks!

2pinkmonkeys Wed 09-Mar-11 16:04:42

calm down! im pretty sure that all schols will talk about lent and what it is at this time of year, just like they would talk about diwali ect.
he isnt going to turn into a devout christian becuase he has been taught about lent.

Also these are not superstions like not walking under ladders. They are peoples belifes and i think its important for children to learn about them no matter what religion if any they practice.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Mar-11 16:06:26

SGB, I'm sure you know that if you want your DS exempt from this you just tell the school. But of course for most of us excluding our kid from part of school life isn't an acceptable solution.

Probably you should write a not explaining that you are happy with DS being taught about religion, including festivals (I think you don't mind nativities etc, is that right?) but you don't wish him to feel pressurised to take part in any actual religious practise such as fasting.

OopsDoneItAgain Wed 09-Mar-11 16:08:49

Were you there such that you know what was said/how it was approached? You need to be sure what happened if you are going in for a chat!

Im happy for my DS to tell me about this sort of stuff, its a part of this country's culture/history etc. I just tell him I dont believe in it myself eg 'some people think x, but not all people do' kind of thing.

Dont really understand why you are so upset. Probably not helping therefore. Will slope off now.

activate Wed 09-Mar-11 16:08:50

community schools have to do an act of worship too you know

yes I'd be cross the difference is "You" and "Some people believe"

hocuspontas Wed 09-Mar-11 16:12:41

Does ds think he is a Christian and so assumes he has to partake? I know my own dds have, in the past, come home stating stuff about 'us Christians'. Not because the school have said it in this way, more an assumption on their part that it applies to them.

TheCrackFox Wed 09-Mar-11 16:13:27

SGB - it is annoying isn't it.

In Scotland we have a choice of types of school - non-denominational (supposedly) and Catholic. My boys go to the non-denominational and what seems to happen is in year one they get indoctrinated into Church of Scotland. I decided to play it cool and just asked my boys leading questions like "..and what do you think" and also emphasised that some people (myself included) don't believe in God. By 2nd year they had come to my way of thinking.

ivykaty44 Wed 09-Mar-11 16:19:05

You can pull your dc out of the religious aspects of school - somewhere online there are template letters on the humanist website for doing this.

Every school has some aspect of religion by law - frustrating and outdated IMO but the more people that pull out their children the more that they will not stick out as if you have a class of 20 and 10 are pulled out of each then it will become increasingly difficult to continue with this type of religious stuff

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Mar-11 16:19:37

Obscure - Lent is based on the story of Jesus going into the desert for 40 days and fasting. The church institutionalised this as a period of fasting before Easter. The tradition of eating pancakes the day before was to eat up all the eggs etc before the fasting began.

Never mind the religious aspects, I'm suprised this doesn't get jumped on as promoting eating disorders grin

midnightexpress Wed 09-Mar-11 16:22:53

I agree with dilly - I'm not at all religious, but I like the idea of using Lent (or another time of one's choosing) to discuss and ponder excess/think about others/do all those things we should do on a daily basis but...ahem...don't necessarily. And also to discuss the cultural/historical reasons why people might give things up at this time of year.

I don't think you should panic. I'm quite sure that if you're anything like you are on MN at home, your DC will be independent-minded enough to work things out for themselves. grin

sarahfreck Wed 09-Mar-11 16:23:20

Are you sure that your ds was actually told he "should" give something up for Lent. I would think it would be more in the context of multi-faith teaching. Ie: This is what Christians believe and do at this time of year. It is possible that the Vicar has used the word "we" meaning "Christians including himself" eg "This is what we do at Lent." and your ds has interpreted it as "we" meaning "everyone here".

By the way I am also a Christian who does not give things up for Lent.

mrsravelstein Wed 09-Mar-11 16:24:35

i totally agree with you but i think it happens in most schools - and ds1 at age 6 went through a bit of a stage of praying and talking about god in a reverential way which i found very difficult as i am very atheist... dh helpfully pointed out that the more wound up i got about it, the more ds1 did it... so i ignored, and it went away... to the point where ds1 at the age of 9 asked to be excused from a school trip to church because 'it's all a load of crap'...

2pinkmonkeys Wed 09-Mar-11 16:25:31

but whay shouldnt children learn about religion?
Isnt it healthy that they learn about the world they live in and what different belifes people have?
if my dd came home having learnt about diwali i would not think they had been pressuring her to be a hindu.

i am not a real believer but i want my daughters to learn about different belifes so they can make up their own minds. i would never fource them to believe or not believe some thing just beacuse i do or dont.

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