Sunday, 11 April 2010

Forced religious education in state schools

I have written here before regarding the hardship of raising a religion neutral child in contemporary Aussie society, with the aim of allowing the child to choose his preferred religious/non religious views when he/she is old enough to know what they're doing (as opposed to the way it's commonly done, as in the parents brain washing their children with their own religion's dogma; how often have you seen a Christian child deciding to turn against his parents and become, say, a Muslim?).
So far, the bulk of my attention was turned to fighting off pressure coming from the family's direction (which in my case has Judaism on one side and Christianity on the other). Lately, the closer my son is getting to school age, I am beginning to learn more and more of a future nightmare I will have to contend with, one which is much more powerful than my overseas family: the state school.
As the article here talks about (and I warmly welcome you to read it), Australian state schools have reached this arrangement with the church some centuries ago that allows the church to bring in their representatives to talk about anything they'd like to talk under the guise of children's religious education. Parents are allowed to have their kids dismissed from these so called "classes", but things are not as simple as they may seem: As only a minority of parents want to have their kids excluded from these brainwashing sessions, the kids are left marginalized and are often required to spend the duration of the classes under detention like conditions. A normal child with a tiny bit of social tendencies would prefer sitting in the class rather than enduring this marginalization, which - and there's the rub - puts the pressure back on the parents.
Now, in a country that is truly democratic and multicultural, as Australia pretends to be, that should have never been an issue and state schools would have been entirely secular. But Australia is not really secular and it's not really multicultural, is it? Everything is always under the shade of Christianity, the class' official bully (a point I have recently discussed here, too).
It's time our enlightened politicians do something about it. It is exactly the lack of action in these departments that prevents me from joining political parties such as the Greens, who do have the power to make changes; if they really stand for their ideals, isn't it time to act and relieve our children of this pain?


Sarah said...

As discussed I was raised a religion neutral child in Australian society. I went to state school where the had these religion classes. Initially my parents asked for me to be excused so i was sent across to the other grade for the session. I did feel excluded and asked to be put back. For me the classes had no impact on my belief system. I learned about a few nice stories and got time off class to go the Christmas church service but that was it. My parents were much more influential in influencing my belief structure through ongoing discussions about what they did and did not believe. As a student and then later a teacher watching these classes run generally as the church rep is not a trained teacher just older volunteers of the church they are really badly done. The kids are bored, make fun of the person and get very little education. Teachers in fact can not leave the room during the session and often have to step in to maintain order. I know the point of the post is to discuss how the classes have no place in a state school but in terms of their effect on kids like Dylan I think there is very little impact.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'll answer with a new post (eventually). I do disagree with your last statement ("I think there is very little impact"), I'm just wondering what the extent of our disagreement is.