There’s an on-going stoush in New South Wales about scripture classes in public schools, which I written about before: Irony. Some Christians are argued that scripture classes are very, very, very important because children learn ethics from scripture. Which is tosh, of course – see Mindy’s excellent post about this claim: Values are not exclusively Christian.
But what is actually being taught in those scripture classes? The Macquarie Centre for Research on Social Inclusion has taken a look, and the results are… revealing.
STUDENTS at one NSW school were told by an untrained scripture teacher they would “burn in hell” if they didn’t believe in Jesus
And, elsewhere in the state, children at other schools were given creationism showbags. A survey by Sydney’s Macquarie University also found 70 per cent of scripture teachers think children should be taught the Bible as historical fact and 80 per cent believe students should not be exposed to non-Christian beliefs.
Scripture teachers generally discouraged questioning, emphasised submission to authority and excluded different beliefs.
Isn’t that great! Just what you want in the public education system: children being taught to not question, to defer to authority, to become rigid thinkers. An excellent strategy for the complex and diverse world of the 21st century.
An alternative ethics program has been developed for students who opt out of scripture classes, and is being trialled in schools. Here’s what one student she was learning in ethics classes.
The teacher gives us situations like whether we think something is fair or not, and then we discuss the topic and give our own opinions. It’s important because it gives us an opportunity to see other people’s point of view and perspectives on things without anyone being right or wrong. That means we feel like we won’t be judged on our answers and gives us a chance to justify what our perspectives are.
I know which I would prefer for my daughters.