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Teaching of religion in public schools

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by Bluesuede, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. Well I didn't think I'd ever start one of THOSE threads around religion, but a discussion last night reminded me of a major annoyance from a couple of years ago.

    Last night, my son, who is in Prep this year asked me "Dad, why am I not allowed to learn about God and Jesus at school?"

    You see - a form comes home from school, seeking parental approval for things like the giving of medical attention, publication of photos of the children in the media, blah blah blah, and one of the questions is is the child permitted to attend religious education classes at the school. My ex wife and I have both said "No" to this.

    Whilst my ex-wife is a rabid American "my rights are this" "separation of church and state" and "I don't believe in God" child of drug abusing anti establishment hippies, I was sent to Anglican schools and was taught comparative religion as opposed to religious indoctrination. I have absolutely no problem with my children being taught about the various beliefs of different religions and having an understanding of what Christianity is all about.

    When my daughter started school a couple of years ago, we had the discussion about what to do, and agreed that a comparative religious education would be beneficial. We went to the school and asked what was being taught, and was assured that it wouldn't be indoctrination into a branch of faith but simply an education into what religion was all about.

    So imagine my displeasure when she came home spouting a whole load of nonsense that she had been told as fact by the teacher. This is a position of authority and children at that age by and large don't question what the teacher has to say. So to hear her say that it is God that makes the daylight come and the night come, that stars are created when babies are born and a whole host of other utter garbage was quite astonishing. I had to then explain that no, God doesn't make the sun come up and that in fact the earth spins on its axis and the planet revolves around the sun and that it is this that defines night and day, and that stars are in fact distant suns and they do NOT come into being when a child is born on this one planet. This coupled with the fact that they had them singing some over the top happy clapper songs, we withdrew her from the classes. There was no discussion of other religions, there was no explanation of what beliefs are and what different people believe and what we know to be true versus what is pure fantasy.

    The slant of the "education" was what I'd expect at some of those happy clapper schools, where enrolment is dependent on parental regular attendance at one of the local cult houses, sorry, churches, but not from a public school.

    So I had to explain to my son that he wasn't going because they taught things that weren't true.

    I've got no problem with religion in and of itself, nor do I have any issue with my children choosing to believe if they decide to do so. But I do take issue with strong religious indoctrination and recruitment to a particular brand of faith when I send my child to a government school. If I wanted that, I'd send them to a faith based school of my choosing - be it an Anglican school, Catholic school, Methodist school or whatever.

    What place do you think religion should be taking in the public education system? Should there only be an examination of the place religion has in the world, what the different branches believe, or do we want the schools to be in a position to drum into young minds literal bible writings as truth? And even ludicrous nonsense not even present in the bible? Should religion not even be taught and be something left for parents to pursue in their own time with their own church or simply by teaching their own beliefs?

    I don't want my children to remain ignorant about religion, but recruitment to a brand of faith makes my blood boil. With one sister heavily involved in the happy clapper crowd, I get enough attempts at recruitment from her, let alone my children being targeted at school.
  2. I agree entirely with your post.

    Give the kid the option to take the faith and not have it pushed down their throats. Personally im not a follower, but work very closely with a very religous man, and he doesnt preach to me what i should or should not be doing and i accept his beleifs and what he follows. Thats they way it should be.
  3. I believe a fair understanding of all religions is a good idea, and would normally leave the decision whether to attend the class or not up to the child.

    ... but that right there is plain ol' bullshit.

    May as well be teaching palm-reading and that the stork brings babies.

    Good move pulling her out of the class.
  4. I find the idea of a teacher of any sort saying that a star is formed when a baby is born, and then claiming any sort of religous authority to say so, quite ridiculous. But SRE is schools is broadly faith-based, usually Anglican, Catholic and OPDs (other Protestant Denominations) and is conducted by lay people (or ministers) representing those groups. The children can opt out (and many do). As far as I know, a full-time teacher cannot conduct SRE at his or her school.

    As for the study of comparative religion (a whole different area) I doubt you'd get many takers if it too was an opt-out subject, and I doubt many teachers would be qualified (or willing) to teach it.
  5. Touchy subject .....
    IMHO, teaching 'Christianity' ( I say 'christian' because we are a predominantly a Christian Nation.), at schools will do no harm, in fact it may even teach the child things like tolerance, respect, love, which in my opinion is lacking in the vast majority of kids/teens/adults these days.

    I see your concern though mate... you did not consent to this and have good cause to be pissed off.

    Does it really matter? I mean they are kids, most of which believe in Santa & the Easter bunny. In time they will learn what is fable and what is fact, but in the meantime they may also learn its not unfashionable to become decent caring people...based on lessons taught. ( yes I know we, as parents, can install that into our kids without the schools preaching their brand of faith/beliefs).
    All I am saying is it cannot hurt.
    BTW, I was raised catholic, but do not practice the faith, go to church etc.
    I teach my kids to treat others with the same respect and consideration you would like yourself.

    .. my 2c ( seeing as you asked for it )

  6. Some subjects are more succeptible to bias than others depending on the teacher. I think anything encompassing history, politics and religion is going to be tough to absolutely ensure an even handed delivery, and yet all three certainly need to be taught.
  7. I think the history of religion should taught to everyone. In this I'm referring to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and some of the Roman belief systems and Druidic customs and ritual.

    Then all should study science and they should be taught about evolution, the big bang with no mansion of creative design (that's for religion).
  8. My kids have been opted out, primarily because it's scripture and has no place in school.

    I really find it really strange that schools have all manner of rules about what is taught, and then allow some happy clappy to turn up and spout their own delusion as fact.

    My memory isn't that great but I the only Religious Education I can remember at school was comparative Religion at High School. But as I was educated by Red Ken's GLC that's only to be expected...
  9. OMG!!.... good old Red Ken :LOL: .....

    "If voting changed anything they'd abolish it."

    Me too. Only had religion taught at "Senior School" and pretty basic it was too. If I had the option, I would have dumped the subject, but as I remember it...it was compulsory at that time.

    However, to me... religion is a personal "belief"..and how can you possibly teach a personal belief??...
  10. Bluesuede you've got the right idea about how it should be taught. Give them the tools to decide, not indoctrinate them.... I would be ropable if that happened to my kid!
  11. Was opt out when I was at school, but you had to fight for it :mad: And never once was it history of religion, it has scripture in primary and happy clappers in highschool. Wasn't till the end of primary that I questioned what they always pushed as fact :mad:

    So there you go, theres the experience of someone who dealt with the "system" up untill 3 years ago. Though I suspect this town may be a little worse that others, with half of the town owned by one "church" or the other.
  12. meh, really whats the big deal? how many people here were indoctrinated in schools and then decided later they didnt want a bar of it? Do you think that for some reason your kid is not going to be able to choose this? As soon as they hit puberty, much more interesting things will start popping up and chances are they will ignore anything they were indoctrinated with anyway. If they are still holding on to it well into uni life, then chances are they are no longer holding on to the indoctrinated thing but have actually decided for themself? Indoctrination can only go so far...

    Maybe they should start a subject called naturalism that is taught from kindy, and teaches kids that there is no such person as santa clause or the tooth fairy or easter bunny, in order to quash indoctrination that parents set up.

    Flame suit on :cool:
  13. It IS, of course, however, OK to indoctrinate the children with the religion of environmentalism, with greater fervour, and with recently-manufactured aboriginal traditions and histories....
  14. +1
    Its like everything else we find cute to tell our kids because its sweet to be a child. Religion can be similar depending on your view.

    Its up to you as a parent to teach your kids what is a fable, and what isn't. Discuss your beleifs with them and they'll likely follow your lead (at least for the moment!). Teach them to see the good and the bad in things, then tell them they're free to decide.

    Did that with my kids and they all take religion as optional - happy to let other people beleive what they want, despite attending schools with religious tendancies. My older boys are starting to have fun with philosophical 'discussions' with the RE teachers.

    Don't hide them from it, allow them to see it, discuss it. Your kids will be better off for it.

    Most of us slightly older folk grew up singing alegiance to the Queen and having morning prayers and a regular dose of RE most days at school. Most of us still hold a healthy scepticism about both.

    Now, if they teach intolerance of others beliefs, thats a different story...

  15. Que???? :?
  16. i actually kinda like happy clapping
  17. At least there is plenty of evidence of environmental damage. There is zero for the existence of a God or Gods.

    There is no place for teaching a particular faith in public schools. I think learning about all religions would be good. It would teach tolerance of other peoples, cultures and beliefs.
  18. Yes but you're missing the point. I have no interest in hiding religion from my children and discuss it quite freely with them. I'm eager for them to learn about all religions, and this was my aim at the outset.

    However I don't send them to school to have some deluded nutbag tell them stories akin to the earth is flat, that the sun is in fact the god Helios driving his chariot with its four fiery steeds across the sky, and that if you slap a "Magic Happens" sticker on the back of your car, you can fly it to alternate dimensions and visit John Lennon in his temple where he's waited on by 11 mystic elephants as the literal TRUTH.

    The instant I discovered my child was being peddled some happy horseshit by the school's religious education representative - after being told they would not be taught in that fashion - I exercised my rights and removed them from the program. Easily done.

    What's the big deal? If you read what I said in the outset, it was that you expect a level of indoctrination at schools that have a defined affiliation and/or denomination. You expect a Catholic school will teach aspects of the Catholic faith, same for Anglican, and you expect the happy clapper schools will encourage their kids to roll around on the ground and speak in tongues while the teachers all yell Hallelujah. The public school system? I would have expected a more balanced comparative religious approach. Perhaps I was hoping for too much but I didn't conceive that my children would be taught nonsense like stars being created when babies are born. I've read the bible and I certainly don't remember that bit.

    No, I don't think that's cute because they're a child. I think that if the school tells me one thing, and my child comes home telling me what's really being taught, and its not what was represented to me, then they have no idea what is going on. I just think its a waste of an opportunity. They shouldn't be teaching a particular faith - they aren't a denominational Christian school. They should be teaching about all faiths and hopefully by doing so raising awareness and tolerance for other religions. Anything that smells like crazy fundamentalism is a one track road to intolerance IMO.
  19. Yes, there are bullsh!ters, but when ones culture, society and civilisation are desicrated, some errors find there way into an oral history.
  20. Oh please :roll: Oral tradition is useless, it gets changed within generations, let alone over thousands. And then, when there's money to be made.....