A number of Christian fundamentalist schools have been downgraded by government inspectors following an investigation by The Independent which revealed children at some schools that follow the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum are taught that LGBT people are inferior and girls must submit to men.
The investigation also uncovered historic allegations of corporal punishment, exorcisms being performed on children and schoolgirls being “groomed” for marriage to much older men.
The Independent has been on a roll about ‘fundamentalist’ schools for some time. It’s mainly been about ultra-Orthodox/Haredi Jewish schools and Wahhabi-orientated Muslim schools so far but it looks like it’s the turn of Christian fundamentalists now.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are left with “Yes, well, er, um, there’s something of a point but, Yes, well, er, um on the other hand . . .”
Well, if the ACE schools are publicly financed (faith schools are - a significant proportion of UK children are educated at publicly financed Catholic schools for example) then I think it has to be accepted that the Government isn’t in the business of financing cults.
On the other side of the coin, the Catholic secondary school I attended as a child (so long ago) got top marks from OFSTED. The school has more emphasis on the faith than when I was there as a child and the result is that it got the highest praise for the level of pastoral care provided.
But why? I mean, it would be one thing if the government was the atheist equivalent of a theocracy, but that’s not what we traditionally mean when we refer to secular government. An allegedly pluralistic government should not be trying to enforce a state orthodoxy, especially when there should be no state orthodoxy to enforce.
Yes, the situation in the UK is truly dreadful, militant secularism means, for example, that Roman Catholic parents who want to send their children to Catholic schools are forced (unless they’re prepared to pay to send their children to Catholic private schools) to send their children to publicly-funded Catholic Schools which exist for the ferociously atheistic object (according to the Catholic Education Service) of helping “parents, priests and teachers to hand on the Deposit of Faith in its fullness to a new generation of young people so that they may come to understand the richness of the Catholic faith, and thereby be drawn into a deeper communion with Christ in his Church.”
It was a mistake western countries made a few decades ago in assuming secular meant ‘neutral’ and an ignorance of the culture binding people together. In time ‘secular ideology’ created its own culture which often is at odds with other cultures but which has sought to dominate through force of state.
There does seem to be backtracking now because it is obviously not working.
Default government schools are still godless but in jurisdictions where Christian communities receive some of their own money back to run schools such as in Britain and Australia the percentage of parents choosing the default godless school is falling to the chagrin of many militant secularists within the education system.
Many of us who have worked in the godless education sector do not trust the administrators and officials there to be … ahem, ‘neutral’.
This morning I read that in Ontario there is a school that was sending kid’s lunches home because they were not “healthy.” The parents had prepared the lunches but the teachers did not permit the kids to eat them.
Yes i agree. As a teacher it is not my job to be a proxy of government to force parents to feed their kids as the government wishes. If i think some kid is eating unhealthily then i will have a quiet word with the parent.
Government dictate just doesn’t work like friendly interaction does. I have met so many parents who are angry the government thinks it has more of a right to bring up children than the actual mother and father / guardians / parent 1 and parent 2 / legally responsible entities …
Government social dictate does not lead to a good place in my opinion.
Fundamentalism in Europe isn’t something that should be swept casually under the rug as you rightly imply, but I’m also wondering what these “inspectors” mean by “inferior”, “grooming” and the like.
The statement on homosexuality----I’m disagree that people are not always born that way—at least I’m not sold on the opposite. But that is their position and the rest although not PC is true: it is a sin and God did punish people according to the OT.
Regarding grooming and pressuring girls to marry----I’d like to know what that means as well. If we are talking practices of 750 AD, then that’s a problem as there are serious consent issues. But if we are talking about a Christian school talking to girls separately about why marrying in their faith is a good idea, then that’s different.
And what does “harmony with other cultures” mean?
A lot of this is very vague and should be met with skepticism.
Perhaps you might consider that a certain vagueness can be necessary?
The UK has a long history of publicly funded schools with religious affiliations (they were the starting point) and schools without religious affiliation still had to provide for common acts of religious observance and religious education. The argument, historically, hasn’t been so much about ‘secular’ education as having schools where you didn’t have to put up with somebody else’s ‘religious’ education. Add to that the fact that virtually anybody can set up a publicly-funded school (they’re called ‘Free Schools’) and that Home Schooling has always been around (the Royal Family only stopped doing it relatively recently ) the opportunities for raising your family in accordance with your beliefs are not few and far between.
Unless . . . unless, for example, we, as a society, want to say that, while your religion might teach that the response to homosexuals is to throw them off the roof and that we don’t want to stop you saying that, actually encouraging that response in a pluralistic society is incitement to murder and “up with that we will not put.”
[Not only that but the UK has some experience of one of the unintended consequences of religiously-affiliated schools and growth opportunities for political sectarianism/tribalism - it’s called Northern Ireland/Ulster. How do you move forward - to a future within the UK or within Ireland - if the two sides rarely meet? How do you integrate Muslims if they go to schools where they don’t meet non-Muslims and have teachers and Imams who still have their heads in the Gujarat?]
So, yes, there are problems on the margins but, on the other hand, the UK has been relatively successful at running an education system that has largely, over a very long time, over most of its constituent countries, over the areas inhabited by the vast majority of its people, avoided religious conflict without avoiding religion. That sort of thing can need a certain vagueness rather than proud declaration - sometimes you signal problems rather than yelling about them.