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Faith Schools

New faith schools 'face shake-up'

I can't help but thinking that a non-believing child in a faith school is going to feel extremely uncomfortable being there. Also, are parents really going to send their children to a school following a faith they don't believe in. I really can't see that happening.

If you are going to have faith schools, they will promote religious segregation. It's unavoidable. That's why they're a fundamentally BAD IDEA!

Surely whatever faith you want to bring up your children as, you want them to think about the faith and be aware of what they believe and why they believe that. It's a personal thing, not something you just inherit.

Given that, then ideally we want children to see a broad range of faiths and find out what different people believe in order to work out their beliefs for themselves. Surely lack of understanding between different faiths must be playing a part in religious fundamentalism. This cannot happen in a single-faith school.

Individual religious beliefs and education need to be separate. The education system does have a responsibility to show children the broad range of beliefs out there, not just one which it has been founded on.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
neitherday
16th Oct, 2006 13:08 (UTC)
I can't help but thinking that a non-believing child in a faith school is going to feel extremely uncomfortable being there. Also, are parents really going to send their children to a school following a faith they don't believe in. I really can't see that happening.

This is very true, and I imagine the officials promoting this policy knows it is true as well. This potential policy therefore seems intended not to reform faith schools, but instead to cripple or destroy faith schools in the name of reforming them.

Surely whatever faith you want to bring up your children as, you want them to think about the faith and be aware of what they believe and why they believe that. It's a personal thing, not something you just inherit.

Unfortunately, many people do think their children should inherit their faith, a belief and behaviour often dictated by faith and tradition. This behaviour has secular equivalents. Many expect their children to share their political alignment and parents in many cultures have traditionally expected their children to continue on with the family business or craft.

The root of this behaviour is the attitude that parents own their children, which I believe is particularly unhealthy.

Individual religious beliefs and education need to be separate. The education system does have a responsibility to show children the broad range of beliefs out there, not just one which it has been founded on.

Faith schools make me squeamish for that very reason.
ladyofastolat
16th Oct, 2006 14:30 (UTC)
It's not the case that faith schools only teach that faith. Part of my job is to provide topic boxes for local schools. All schools put in requests for book collections on Judaism, Hinduism, Islam etc. - the faith schools no less than "normal" schools. Studying all faiths is a requirement of the national curriculum, and no school in England can get away without doing it. From lessons I've observed, they teach them very objectively. There's no "this is wrong and evil!" sub-text to how they deal with the other faiths. Ofsted would never let them get away with that.

As for parents wanting their child to inherit their faith... Of course they do! If you firmly believe that your faith is right - that it is the only way to guarantee eternal life and avoid damnation - of course you're going to want your child to adhere to that faith. Everyone wants what is best for their children, after all. I think it's only wrong if they then refuse to let those children make up their own mind once they've reached an age at which they can think for themselves about such things.
hmmm_tea
16th Oct, 2006 17:02 (UTC)
Yes, I take both your points. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in what I was trying to get across.

Studying all faiths is a requirement of the national curriculum.

RE will be covered as per the national curriculum in all schools, but I'm talking more generally outside the RE classroom. Interacting with others of different faiths is an important way of understanding, not just teaching from books.

As for parents wanting their child to inherit their faith... Of course they do!

Yes, but my point was that isn't it preferable for this to have been thought though and believed beyond question rather than just blindly followed?

once they've reached an age at which they can think for themselves

Surely they're able to think about this things from an early age, it's all part of development, but then again parent can bring up their children the way they like, it's up to the schools to provide a broad unbiased knowledge base for the child to figure out who they are.
passage
16th Oct, 2006 17:26 (UTC)
So, since I've never had a lesson where a teacher challenged the fundamental tenets of mathematics, or indeed met anyone who in serious debate explained why I should abandon the peano axoims, I am a blind believer in mathematics, and my integration will presumably remain hopelessly naieve until someone can be found to argue that the fundamental theorum of calculus isn't true?
hmmm_tea
16th Oct, 2006 22:25 (UTC)
I think children should be challenged to questions maths too, but that's a different issue...
passage
18th Oct, 2006 21:48 (UTC)
Do they need people who deny mathematics claims throughly and utterly to help them do that thinking through, or is there a more helpful setting?
coldclimate
17th Oct, 2006 10:16 (UTC)
>Studying all faiths is a requirement of the national curriculum.

That doesn't stop it being taught in the fashion of "this is what XXXX beleive, and they are wrong. This is what YYYY beleive, they are wrong and God with smote them with his fire!"

Which is pretty much how my highly religious (C of E) RE teacher taugh me in high school (local comp').

hmmm_tea
17th Oct, 2006 12:42 (UTC)
Which teacher was that then?

My experience of RE at school was it only being timetabled in year 7, when it was entirely about Christianity (horrible teacher - still haven't forgiven her for giving me a detention purely because I chose not to colour in the drawing I drew for homework).

In later years, it always seemed to be taught in other subjects by teachers who didn't really want to do it, so it got brushed over very quickly and mainly involved watching videos of religious gatherings.
coldclimate
17th Oct, 2006 12:46 (UTC)
mrs Bamber was her name - and thats the one I'm talking about. Or Mrs Tomlinson - much the same story.
hmmm_tea
17th Oct, 2006 13:02 (UTC)
Ah yes, the detention woman. I think she was just a bad teacher.

I vaguely remember being taught re by another Re teacher at some point, but only vaguely, so she can't of made much of an impression. May have been Mrs Tomlinson, may not have been (there weren't that many RE teachers though!).
doseybat
16th Oct, 2006 15:16 (UTC)
but if you send your child to a mixed faith school, they might actually be influenced by somebody of a different faith! and convert! we couldnt possibly have that.
passage
16th Oct, 2006 16:39 (UTC)
Some questions:
1) Is maths inherited?

2) What is the redeeming difference between the teaching of maths and the spectre of the teaching of religion that you have conjoured up for us?

3) Why is it that private schools can teach about communism in history, but Catholic schools can't teach about Hinduism in RE?
hmmm_tea
16th Oct, 2006 17:10 (UTC)
Re: Some questions:
My reference to "inherited" was in reference to people who blindly claim to follow a certain religion because that's what they've been told since they were little and they haven't really thought about it. I think it's important for people to have beliefs, but these must be thought through. I believe a good way of encouraging this is by mixing children of different faiths.

In general, schools need to teach children in an unbiased way. Hence they should teach about all religions, but no one religion should have any influence over the way the school is run. I would also say it would be good if there was a way to stop the government having too much influence in the running of schools for similar reasons, but I can't see a way around that one...
passage
16th Oct, 2006 17:39 (UTC)
Re: Some questions:
I'm afraid I have more questions.

What leads you to believe that people are incapable of thinking about their religion within a faith school?

What leads you believe that within a faith school people will not encounter children (those noted philosphical debaters, I certainly honed my understanding of my faith against them, oh wait, no I didn't, I had to think that out for myself) of other , or no faiths?

I know a number of people of passed through faith schools. I don't think even a majority shared that schools faith (and many of the circles I move in are strongly faithed so that's coming out of a sample biased in favour of it) they are unanimous in the view that nothing approaching a majority of the population of that school had the same faith as the school.

Why do schools need to teach things in an unbiased way?

Is Biology taught in an unbiased way? Should it be? How about Physics, or History? Geography or Spanish?

Should English teachers point out that there's this chap called Neil who thinks that 'infact' is infact one word, and not be permitted to give any judgement as to whether this is correct or not?

How is it possible for people who hold to any religion to be involved in a school and religion have no influence over how the school is run.

If a Christian teacher works hard at there lessons because they believe that "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3v23) should they be sacked for allowing their religion to influence the way the school is run?

To say to anyone who holds to a faith 'In this context you are not allowed to let your faith influence your actions' is sheer nonsense. You might as well tell them they have to start teleporting to work.
hmmm_tea
16th Oct, 2006 22:31 (UTC)
Re: Some questions:
Why do schools need to teach things in an unbiased way?

People need to think for themselves, discover what drives them and what is important to them. This cannot happen by spoon feeding "facts" (eg in maths) or "opinions" or "beliefs". They need to think about these things. This doesn't happen enough in schools and anything we can do to promote this should be done in my opinion. This involves giving the children all sides of the storey.

In English surely its worth questioning why there are specific rules for doing things, why do we need to spell everything the same?

I also think you mistaking influence for motivation in your example of the Christian teacher.
(Deleted comment)
hmmm_tea
16th Oct, 2006 22:49 (UTC)
Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus are more likely to send their children to a Christian faith school than a secular school if they have an option. I thus disagree that they promote segregation.

Yes, but this still doesn't include a representative sample of another important set of people, the "faithless" for want of a better word.

Surely if there wasn't a segregation between schools then the natural result would be for these "values" to get a greater representation in non-faith schools?

Is it really sensible to keep creaming off members of different religions, classes, abilities from our schools? What effect is this going to have on what's left?

"Comprehensive" schooling cannot work if you don't allow it to be comprehensive, which as far as I'm aware it never has been because of Grammer schools, etc.
(Deleted comment)
chainmailmaiden
16th Nov, 2006 17:04 (UTC)
I can't help but thinking that a non-believing child in a faith school is going to feel extremely uncomfortable being there

While I can't speak for all faith schools, that wasn't the impression I got at the one I went to. 20% of the pupils were from other faiths and I'd say the vast majority of the C of E people weren't actually practicing Christians. The Hindu girl and the Jewish girl in my close group of friends didn't seem to feel uncomfortable, they just skipped the part of assembly where we had a hymn and prayers and joined us later for the notices. Apart from that there wasn't really any specifically Christian content to anything else, we were taught about other religions and evolution the same as in any other school.
(Anonymous)
17th Nov, 2006 13:22 (UTC)
Sikhism and Judaism believe that other faiths are valid, would you have any objection to sending your children to their schools?
Isn't the main attraction of faith schools the disciplinary and work ethic unlikely to be present in Joe Blogg's Sink Comprehensive?
What was it Teflon Tony said when he first got in, Edu something?
hmmm_tea
17th Nov, 2006 14:41 (UTC)
Isn't the main attraction of faith schools the disciplinary and work ethic unlikely to be present in Joe Blogg's Sink Comprehensive?

Yes, but why's this the case? Because all the students with supportive parents are sent to schools that are likely to have that ethic and hence you get segregation (not by faith admittedly, but parental background).

Surely what Joe Blogg's Sink needs to bring it up to the level of these other schools is the influence of these supported children. There will be no peer pressure for children to do well, if you take away those peers.
chainmailmaiden
23rd Nov, 2006 18:37 (UTC)
I get out of that one nicely by the fact I'm not going to have any children, the clips on my tubes will see to that one nicely.

But no, if I had been going to have kids it wouldn't bother me what faith the school was. I'd be looking for the school that would give my kids the best education, if I had the money to be able to choose (which would be unlikely). Which is why as Hmmm_tea says I also think that all schools should offer the same standards of education. However I don't see any need to prevent all faith schools from existing though, if people want the choice, le tthem have it.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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