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Thread: new way to teach religion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    new way to teach religion

    In a world where religion seems more alien to many and different belief systems are in closer proximity, we need a new way to teach children about it

    In modern secular societies such as Britain, there is a tendency to think “religion” is something that other people do. When we do not understand what it means in the lives of believers, we are unable to understand either them or ourselves properly; and in a world where globalisation has shoved communities with wildly different values into close proximity, this is dangerous.

    The obvious answer is to teach religion properly in schools – rather than haphazardly, as in England at present. The legal framework was set out 75 years ago, when this was a very different and uncontroversially Christian country. The assumption was that Christianity should be taught and practised in all state schools. The main means of practice would be a daily assembly that would include an explicitly Christian act of worship, something which has since been modified to suggest that it be of a mainly Christian character.

    This law is largely ignored in practice. Outside of a few faith schools, there is no enthusiasm for using the school’s assembly to proselytise for a faith that neither the teachers nor the children are likely to share. Meanwhile, there is no national curriculum for religious teaching rather than practice. While most children learn about synagogues and the Guru Granth Sahib, the syllabus is highly variable (as is its quality) and very seldom includes material on the kind of “no religion” humanism that is the faith system of most young people in the UK today.

    In a new pamphlet, Charles Clarke, a former education secretary and home secretary, and Linda Woodhead, a sociologist of religion, suggest a long-overdue cleanup of this mess. “Religious education” would be replaced by “religion, beliefs and values”, compulsory in all schools up to the sixth form. It would include humanism as a belief system. Faith schools would add to the subject according to their own beliefs, but the core of the curriculum would be compulsory in all state-funded schools. Its content would be set by a panel of experts representing humanism as well as recognised faiths, but chosen for educational expertise rather than as champions of their own viewpoints.

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    Uncle Wally (20-07-2018)

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