Really Sciency

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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Has RE teaching changed since 9/11?

A news report in 2007 said that teachers should include ways in which religion is not always a force for good, basically because of religiously motivated terrorist attacks like 9/11 and 7/7.

Has this happened? I only have experience of my own children’s (faith) schools and have seen no evidence of it.

I think it is well past time for RE education to be revamped to show that many faiths and even atheism exist, all can be valid choices and you need not be lumbered with the religion of your parents.

From what I remember from RE lessons we did a bit on Hinduism but other that that it was all NT stuff from a devout Christian teacher. I’m sure if made to teach that religion wasn’t always a force for good, they wouldn’t have included their faith but maybe others and probably used Islam as an example.
In a previous post I suggest that as a non-believer I thought more religious education was needed, not less or even banning it as some might expect. But my thoughts are very clear on the subject of religious education.

Religious education should be just that; Teaching children about the different religious and belief systems in the world which would also lead to the possibility of non-belief. Children should not be taught that there is a god, as I was, but that many people believe in a god or gods and in which ways they worship. I learned very little about Jewish beliefs and cannot remember Islam even being brought up in class. I hope current RE is not like this but I suspect in many cases, perhaps in faith schools, it is not too removed.

If a child learns about someone not eating certain foods, praying in a certain direction several times a day or wearing a veil, do you want them to think these people a bit weird, as I would have as a kid or do you want them to have the education to know about different religions and why they behave as they do?

Being a historically Christian country I would expect some bias toward Christianity but more as a history of Christians and the different sects within it. Children should NOT be taught religious belief in schools.
So there should be more RE taught in schools but of the type that the news item suggests. It is the teaching or preaching of a specific religion or set of beliefs than needs to end. If you are going to educate children about religions, that is exactly what it needs to be, not teaching them to believe in a specific god or dogma.

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