Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Oh, God

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  • Rosemary McDonald,

    My three kids all went to Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools. (Don't ask, long story)

    Neither of their parents have any religious connection, although paternal Great Grandfather was a card carrying Orangeman from Ireland, so we did cop a bit of flak for exposing the offspring to the Catholics. Seriously.

    However, off the kids went for the prescribed number of years, attending Mass and doing all the other God Stuff, other than First Holy Communion.

    Religious Education was kept separate from the usual state school curriculum...which was followed religiously (pun intended)...and Darwin did get a mention in high school science class.

    No need for the exorcist to pay a visit afterwards.

    All three kids are happy atheists/agnostics.
    They don't pray, attend church, or show any ill effects of having a high exposure to religious dogma.

    All three are honest, hard working, intelligent free thinkers who have the confidence to argue their point of view....with the expectation that their arguement makes sense.

    Because thats how we roll at home.

    SO, don't panic if little Johnny comes home from school talking about Big Daddy, Junior and the Spook....it will not do them any harm as long as YOU, their parents, are the biggest influence in their lives.

    Here endeth the Lesson.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Emma Hart,

    I don’t find religion particularly suitable for children.

    I think you have made a very compelling case Emma. Your last paragraph alone should absolutely be a wake up call to whoever is in charge to carefully reconsider what it is they’re in fact trying to do with this.

    I wasn’t, because it isn’t.

    Oh yes, there, now I see. [voiced as Dougal McGuire] I guessed perhaps in that time slot. Regardless.

    Again, only if you cherry-pick it. The Bible also preaches a lot of hate. It supports slavery, murder and rape. If you were educating and not indoctrinatng, you would mention that. It’s also central to Christian doctrine that non-Christians go to Hell, so if that’s not being taught to kids, again, that’s cherry-picking.

    Due to the size of the text, and the time constraints, for most courses being given (in this case one weeks total class time per year) you’ll only ever be able to cherry pick it. And this is the case in most subjects. The rationale for the way things were presented to us I guess was that Jesus, like Siddhārtha Gautama, Confucius, Mohammed, was a massively influential thinker and so for the most part our initial studies were limited to Jesus’s parables and his life and times. We weren’t given any readings of specific doctrines of those other names mentioned, but I assume that’s because they didn’t play such a role in defining our culture and may have conflicted with that ‘Christian school’ marketing angle. The Bible’s negative excerpts and concepts were generally rationed out methodically and with utmost care over a longer period, when we’d got a little older and were less likely to be scarred in any meaningful way, which I guess is not entirely dissimilar to the way topics like sexual reproduction are structured into our science education. Witch-trials. Crusades. Persecution of women, POC were handled in other subjects, generally, but not entirely always entirely accurately, under the heading ’history’*.

    But a whole lot of what you’re saying, to me hinges on this.

    …is not taught by teachers.

    Which really is not how things should be at all, not at tax funded schools.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    * Incidentally, the persecution of LGBTI people was not touched upon and I guess this would largely boil down to the fact that in order to fully educate people on that topic you’d be remiss not present the fact that the sharpest brunt of the persecution (as with most persecution) in recent centuries was administered not so much by our churches but by our Governments. I stumbled on some factoids, recently, while attempting to answer a fellow on IMDB.com who asked how the bar owner in Good Morning Vietnam could be so openly gay without being arrested. I guess perhaps many already know this stuff but it was new to me. Homosexuality has never been illegal in Vietnam, despite missionaries arriving in the 1650s, nowadays the Christian population hovers at about 8 million.

    The current Pope comes from a country which is 70-90% Christian and where same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private has been legal since 1887. In neighbouring Brazil with similarly high numbers of believers, all references to sodomy were eliminated from its penal code before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, a full 58 years before they abolished slavery. In this kind of context, any meaningful exploration of this topic would be incomplete without factoring in the absolutely brutal role (in New Zealand’s case) that successive Governments have played in this persecution of the communities. And that this occurred despite alternative models being available from the outset. Given Primary School social studies (most everywhere) tends to shy away from historical issues incriminating one’s own Government, and for that matter, in our case, anything that disputes the rather trite dictum that ‘we are leading the world’, it could just be a bridge too far for ones so young.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    And a grand lesson it is.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    Lastly, sorry for the multiple posts. This clip isn’t so much what I have in mind, but without that foundation I’d have been unable to fully appreciate a whole lot of great comedy.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    And a grand lesson it is.

    Not convinced. Yes, it's good to know that some kids come through unscathed, and certainly good advice to keep thoroughly engaged with them to the best of your ability. But it's not an excuse to let their time be wasted on something suboptimal at best, harmful at worst. This is the 21st Century, there's so many genuinely good things that could be done instead.

    To put it another way, consider how you'd feel if someone said you had to take bible lessons yourself, now. Sure you'd probably be "unharmed". Would that make it OK? And that's an adult, far, far more able to critically evaluate what is happening to them.

    Nope, no way should this be allowed in state schools. No fucking way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to BenWilson,

    . But it’s not an excuse to let their time be wasted on something suboptimal at best, harmful at worst. This is the 21st Century, there’s so many genuinely good things that could be done instead.

    Hmmmm.

    Two of my now adult kids have four science degrees between them.
    The one who has just handed in his PhD thesis was truly inspired by the science teacher at his Catholic high school.
    Hardly a 'suboptimal' educational outcome.

    All three of my children considered sports/physed/gym a complete and utter waste of their time...yet it was compulsory.

    I would hazzard a guess that their is more harm done by schools forcing pupils into certain sporting activities...remember the humiliation?

    Maybe none of you do....

    Sorry, I'm not convinced.

    An hour of week of exposure to religion will not harm your children providing they can discuss what they have absorbed with their parents...as they would discuss all the other subjects they do at school.

    Perhaps, instead of getting all hissyfitish about such matters, this energy and concern for our childrens education could be better directed towards improving the efficacy of our engagement with our children.

    Teaching them to be respectful of all knowledge, and teaching them to learn with discrimination....in the positive sense of the word.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Perhaps, instead of getting all hissyfitish about such matters

    Um. This doesn't seem constructive.

    this energy and concern for our childrens education could be better directed towards improving the efficacy of our engagement with our children.

    You're accusing other people of being bad parents?

    Rather than making school something to be endured and having to counteract the brainwashing at home, we should improve the schooling?

    I attended a church-based school for my intermediate years and it was an excellent place. Class size was capped at 25 and staff and support were top-notch. I wish good education didn't have to be coupled with religion.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    An hour of week of exposure to religion will not harm your children providing they can discuss what they have absorbed with their parents…as they would discuss all the other subjects they do at school.

    Bullshit. Do what you like at a Catholic School, that's your right, but don't waste my kids time, and also my own time, with mumbo jumbo. We're not talking about social studies here, in which the Bible is studied in a dispassionate and secular way, contrasted with other similar texts, and given the small amount of time that debunked information generally deserves. We're talking about Bible Classes in which the particular teachings of one religion are presented as profoundly important with zero contextualization, for 50 hours every year. That is not something I agree with in state funded compulsory education, at all. Period.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd rather our schools were spending that valuable time teaching relationship skills, conflict resolution and how to think. Churches can do their thing after hours.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lilith __,

    Rather than making school something to be endured and having to counteract the brainwashing at home, we should improve the schooling?

    Teaching them to be respectful of ALL knowledge, ALL beliefs, ALL lifestyles. And, teaching them to learn with discrimination….in the positive sense of the word.

    I'm not accusing anyone of bad parenting...on the contrary...I am trying to say that parents are the first and most important influence on children's lives....for better or worse....As parents we have only a very small window in which to positively influence our children's outcomes...we should be acknowledged as the first, and always foremost of our child's teachers.

    What surprises me about this conversation is the depth of anti - religious feeling....like, where is the fear coming from?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to BenWilson,

    <q>don’t waste my kids time.... with mumbo jumbo..... for 50 hours every year

    Please tell me Ben that your kids watch no TV, no films, cartoons, advertisements.

    Tell me that they are not allowed exposure to Tolkein, Rowling, Grimm, Lewis, Mahy,

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I feel no fear here-- just a genuine concern that one religious creed dominates public life in New Zealand, and intrudes into schooling where it shouldn't.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Tell me that they are not allowed exposure to Tolkein, Rowling, Grimm, Lewis, Mahy,

    Nobody tells them that it's true.

    Teaching them to be respectful of ALL knowledge, ALL beliefs, ALL lifestyles

    Which Bible class absolutely does not do.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    What surprises me about this conversation is the depth of anti – religious feeling….like, where is the fear coming from?

    Fear of stupid is my greatest phobia. It burns.

    Teaching them to be respectful of ALL knowledge, ALL beliefs, ALL lifestyles.

    But I'm not respectful of all knowledge or beliefs or lifestyles in the first place. There are bad lifestyles, false knowledge and harmful beliefs.

    Please tell me Ben that your kids watch no TV, no films, cartoons, advertisements.

    You're trying to sell me compulsory religious studies on the grounds that it's not worse than Mickey Mouse? No sale, even if that's true, which it isn't. It's not OK for school to make Mickey Mouse compulsory for an hour a week. I'd have a hissy fit if I found out they were doing that, and so would you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Which Bible class absolutely does not do.

    If "Bible Class" does teach that the 'teacher's' faith is the only one that deserves respect, then I too would be concerned. The only way to be sure of what is being taught is to sit in on every session....and protest most vehemently if the teacher strays into disrespect for other faiths.

    "Nobody tells them that it’s true."

    No.2 son was saying over dinner tonight that Bible Class( of the Catholic School variety) threw up some of the weirdest stories he has ever heard. Like, truly weird "what were the writers on" type of shit.

    No more likely to be believed by children than fairy tales, fables, and the like....which where told to teach children similar values to those taught in the dreaded Bible Class.

    There again....our family did not do Christmas (because we were not religious), or Easter (for the same reason) so we had to explain to our children the origins of these festivals and the reason we were philosophically opposed to celebrating them.

    The kids coped with the incongruency of going to a religious school yet eschewing that religion's major festivals.

    Again...Parental Guidance Required.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Greville Whittle,

    An hour of week of exposure to religion will not harm your children providing they can discuss what they have absorbed with their parents…as they would discuss all the other subjects they do at school.

    Perhaps, instead of getting all hissyfitish about such matters, this energy and concern for our childrens education could be better directed towards improving the efficacy of our engagement with our children.

    Thank you for completely dismissing any misgivings I might have about a non-teacher influencing my children about their religion as being hissyfitish.

    The school my children go to currently does not have the optional (but not really optional) bible classes. However if I wanted them to have these classes I'm spoiled for choices:
    1. We could teach them ourselves.
    2. There are at least five churches within a five-ten minute walk from our house. More if we wanted to cross the river into the Hamilton CDB.
    3. There are at least two nearby christian primary schools.

    Taking these classes out of state schools, or having them as an after school activity doesn't make them less available, just a little less convenient.

    On the flip-side we made the decision to hold off on any religious education for our kids. Problem for us as parents is that was easier said than done. To borrow a phrase from another conversation "we're soaking in it"; bits and pieces have come through from teachers, relatives, advertising, movies and many other sources.

    What I find interesting is the reaction to people not wanting their children to have bible classes. I find it funny you mentioned sport, Rosemary, because the reaction I see is exactly like when I didn't want to play rugby at primary school. Schools are humiliating the children who opt out of these classes.

    Hamiltron • Since Oct 2008 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    like, where is the fear coming from?

    I lived in the American south for four years. The insidious religious bullshit everywhere is at best tiresome and at worst actively harmful. We don't need it here in state schools and I'll pitch as many hissyfits as I fucking like about it, thank you very much.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    Probably risking being shot down in flames here, but I have held a sneaky suspicion for some years that the risible remuneration offered to teachers means that only people with a really strong drive enter the profession. Some of these people are those with a genuine vocation to teach, who are prepared to accept a lifetime of near penury. Others are those on a mission - in particular Christians of the born-again variety, who see teaching as an opportunity to share the Good News. My father was a lecturer at Wellington Teachers' College until the mid '90s, and it was extraordinary how many student teachers were fundamentalist Christians.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    By way of counter-example, my parents both went to Catholic schools and were both molested by priests.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    ALL beliefs

    that would be fine - but it is not actually what's on offer as others have pointed out.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    @Rosemary (not Sacha, soz)

    The only way to be sure of what is being taught is to sit in on every session….and protest most vehemently if the teacher strays into disrespect for other faiths.

    You’d know that you can’t actually do this, right? Putting aside utter impracticality of it to the point of ridiculousness, you are aware that parents can’t just rock up to classes uninvited and have a go at teachers? I’m wondering how much of your story I believe now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10630 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    What surprises me about this conversation is the depth of anti – religious feeling….like, where is the fear coming from?

    I spent most of my school years at a school where CofE was the default setting. We had a compulsory Religious Instruction class, purely christian teachings (once a week for 5-6 years). All assemblies included a hymn and a bible teaching, every day (every weekday in term for 7-8 years).

    That's quite a considerable amount of time spent presenting these things as absolute and unquestioned facts, but relatively speaking, this net sum of this teaching was nothing more than a light sprinkling as oppposed to the full immersive experience it could have been. However, the effect on an impressionable young mind is to literally put the fear of god into you. I spent considerable hours as a child deeply worried and scared about the consequences of various actions on my part and those of the people I loved.

    Were my parents going to burn in hell because they weren't christian? What about my jewish, sikh and hindu friends? Was there a ledger somewhere where every bad thing I did was added up? Where was the tipping point between overall being a good person and being a bad person destined for hell? Could I offset my bad deeds with good deeds? How did I know what was good and how much they were 'worth'?

    You really think that sort of mental torment is uncommon when you force-feed a child with this sort of thing as an absolute? Do you think that's acceptable? A small price to pay?

    It isn't 'fear' that you should be querying, its anger. And it's pretty obvious where it comes from. It's the result of mental torture and abuse that's a direct consequence of half-baked well-meaning but deeply flawed state-spondered religious instruction. Any 'fear' I have is for my children going through the same thing.

    You want to teach them religion? Fine. Your curriculum now includes: Thor, Odin, Jupiter, Mars, Zeus, Baphomet, Lugh, Coyote, Gish, Qamatis, Bastet, Turan, Tlazolteotl etc, etc, etc. All religious systems are required by law to be treated equally (equal class time) with your 'mainstream' religions. Too much? OK, I'll compromise. All religious beliefs held by reasonably large groups of people today are required to be equally treated in a classroom context. That includes: Christianity, Hindu, Sikh, Judaeism, Islam and ancestor worship/spirtualism in SE Asia. You must also spend equal class time discussing both of (and not together) alterrnative religions in a western context (paganism, druidism etc) AND the flying spaghetti monster (as a way of introducing a discussion of non-belief). Your Christian teaching section must include an in-depth discussion of the teachings of Leviticus, in particular those dealing with: wearing clothes made of multiple threads, improper sacrifices, owning slaves, what sort of meat you can cook and when, and sexual relationships. These are to be discussed with a focus on why these teaching are inappropriate in a modern context and why modern religios teaching no longer follows them.

    Class time must also be devoted to a comparison of scientific method (hypothesis, observation, result, conclusion, publication of result and replicability of same) vs belief/faith. Class time must also be devoted to psychology and phsiology of the human brain and a discussion of why we may be inclinded towards belief as a default state.

    All are to be treated equally: any attempt to twist the curriculum to favour the teachings of one over another results in the school failing that portion of thhe inspection process.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    This is one of those posts that veers mysteriously between Salt Lake City and robot dog.

    I'm not going to waste my breath or my weekend on this.

    Since Nov 2006 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rich Lock,

    It isn’t ‘fear’ that you should be querying, its anger. And it’s pretty obvious where it comes from. It’s the result of mental torture and abuse that’s a direct consequence of half-baked well-meaning but deeply flawed state-spondered religious instruction. Any ‘fear’ I have is for my children going through the same thing.

    Well said. Thanks Rich.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

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