I have no problem at all with people having faith in whatever god or gods they want. Everyone has the right to believe in their own thing freely. I’ve taught in a school that was predominantly Muslim students, one with a strong Christian faith, and have had a Jehovah’s Witness come into class and talk about how they celebrate Easter.
What I do have a problem with is when public schools and public funds are used to promote one particular religious standpoint as the truth. Public money should not be used for indoctrination into any faith.
Enter John Banks and his plan for Charter Schools.
As Associate Education Minister he has enormous sway over the future education policies of our country. Right now he is pushing through his plans for Charter Schools, with the promise of choice for parents and fabulous leaps in improvement for students. He talks of the ‘tail of achievement’ and how the heralding of this new era will mean those children with the lowest levels of education will suddenly be engaged, interested, motivated students.
I’m going to resist the urge to go into that in any depth right now, or to lend time to considering why a man who has spoken so very badly about people in the ‘tail’ in the past now suddenly has an interest in ‘helping’ them. Instead, I will just ponder why this man is trying to get another layer of schools added into our education system.
Let’s consider religion and science and how they Charter Schools will be allowed to treat those areas:
- Charter Schools will be free to teach outside the curriculum.
- Charter Schools will be allowed to teach students that Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Paganism or whatever other beliefs they fancy are correct and true.
- Charter Schools will not have to discuss other religions nor explain that there are myriad, sometimes overlapping and often conflicting, religious texts.
- Charter Schools will not have to discuss current theories or evidence based in science that might contradict their religious standpoint.
- Charter Schools will be able to ignore or totally disavow evolution.
- In short, Charter Schools will be under no obligation to provide a balanced viewpoint.
We already have provision for special faith schools in New Zealand, but even they must work within the curriculum of learning about other beliefs, other standpoints, and scientific research.
One has to wonder, then, why we are adding in this new layer that allows such narrow views.
And we really do need to consider the potential damage it will do to the chance of children receiving a well-rounded education.
To listen to John Banks on Charter Schools and religion, click here.
For more in world Religions, see here.