...messed up by grown-ups.
My school lessons were scientific. We learnt about how physics governs what we see around us; in biology lessons, we learnt about how our bodies function; and we tried to figure out how English grammar rules dictate how we string a sentence together.
These were all lessons that were designed to help us make sense of the world around us. And then we gathered in a room and all that sense went out of the window. In that room, we learnt how there is an omnipotent being who bothers his arse turning water into wine and who looks after every single person on the planet and yet lets them all die - in horrible, painful ways for the main part. I have to say I found it confusing.
We didn’t learn about Jesus’s life (it was a CofE-focused school) as part of our history lessons, because perhaps it isn’t even viewed as a history by those who believe he existed. That was perplexing to the younger me. Instead it was taught as a stand-alone subject - somehow separate from everything that was factual but superseding the factual topics as something that was all-encompassing and supra-factual.
There can be no place for religion of parents or communities to impact on the education of children
“ My religious education at school convinced me that the Bible was not a book for me ”
One afternoon, in the interests of equality, we learnt that there was someone called Mohammed and a book called the Torah and some people worshipped a man who had an elephant’s trunk or perhaps he was an elephant who talked like a man. The details, it seemed to me, were hazy, the lesson only lasted an hour and we weren’t given any homework on it. My religious education at school convinced me that the Bible was not the book for me.
I have no idea why religious views are taught in schools in as factual a way as mathematics or geography. And I have no idea why religious views have such an impact on what is taught in schools. For me, they seem in no way related. If you want to do the religious thing - I am very happy for those who do - there are churches, synagogues, mosques and the like which are ideally set up to enable you to do this. Schools are not ideally set up for it.
Schools, run by expert educators, are, however, ideally set up to educate children in all that they need to know to make sense of the world. And we should leave them to it.
The furore in the media about the religion-based objections to the teaching of sex and relationship issues in a Birmingham primary school was quite rightly a furore. There can be no place for religion of parents or communities to impact on the education of children.
It is about education and the presentation of what children need to know
THIS IS NOT A GAY ISSUE
This is not a gay issue. It is not an equal rights issue. It is about education and the presentation of what children need to know in order to make their own decisions about sex, about relationships, about their future careers, and yes, about their religion. Teachers can only be there to present facts, to present
ideas to encourage deeper thought and consideration of what constitutes a moral way of life as human beings. There is no way we can expect teachers to censor what they teach to suit every particular interpretation of every single religion. It simply does not make sense.
A MYRIAD OF INFLUENCES...
It’s like a child’s sense of style. Like religious views, children will pick up their sense of style or fashion from myriad influences - family and community often being the main ones.
School cannot tell them that one fashion is better or worse than another but can teach them how to use a sewing machine so that they can make their own clothes, or how to manage a household budget so that they can spend money on their own wardrobe. Schools can also enable a child to respect different styles and maybe give them the knowledge to understand how different styles evolved. We then have our whole adult lives to make our very own ridiculous decisions about what to wear.
Cat's Corer by Gudrun
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