Teaching religion to children may not be easy, but it is necessary

Dec 5, 2014

By Dan Arel

I was raised in a Christian home and was taught very little about other religions. I also attended a Christian school for a number of years where I was taught a great deal of misinformation about other beliefs, most of which revolved around their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Lord, or that even that some Christians who didn’t understand the Bible correctly and wanted to lead me astray from my faith, guaranteeing me a place in hell.

Had I not taken an interest in world religions later in life, I would not have questioned the misinformation I was given and would have a drastically different view, likely thinking the worse of other religions.

And so when I began researching subjects for my latest book Parenting Without God, one popular question from parents was how to teach religion, or whether they should teach it at all. Many felt religion was harmful to society so they should avoid the subject altogether.

It didn’t take long to discover that it is not only non-religious parents who confront this dilemma. Religious parents struggle with teaching their children about other religions in the same way. Christian parents, Muslim parents, Jewish parents, you name it, they all face a time when they have to address what others believe, and the common response I found was that they just tell their children everyone else is wrong.

Parents should avoid this didacticism because it relies on teaching our children what to think when we should actually be teaching our children how to think. As an atheist, I believe that Christianity is the wrong worldview, but simply telling my child this accomplishes nothing expect making him agree with me because he doesn’t know any better. Instead, I should foster his inquisitive mind and encourage him to learn and explore belief systems from around the world.

This approach encourages children to think critically by comparing and contrasting ideas. If they find religions with conflicting beliefs they can ask how both could be right, how both could be wrong, and how would you go about finding out the truth?


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96 comments on “Teaching religion to children may not be easy, but it is necessary

  • There is a big difference between teaching religion to children and teaching children about religion.
    The first is a form of child abuse. The second is sort of vaccination.



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  • I do not see why is important to teach religion. As in article was mentioned:

    one popular question from parents was how to teach religion, or
    whether they should teach it at all.

    Why teach lies, and wrong ways of looking upon human origin and origin of Earth? Children deserves truth, and as Roedy has written, to teach religion is a form of child abuse. How can a child separate lies from truth if lies are taught equally in school side by side with the truth. They can only learn that lies are important as truth. Why is it so significantly and good to teach children any religion? I do not know a single reason.



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  • 3
    Lorenzo says:

    Here’s an idea: what if you didn’t bother? Why don’t you leave the children alone on the subject matter: there’s really the need to teach them which is the good faith, which are the bad ones and what they have to to given the choiche? I really don’t think so.

    Some think that children will run around asking “what religion should I comply with?” and “in which god must I believe?” as soon as they can speak. There’s a whole pamphlet*, on this site, that sets off to demonstrate the thesis and ends up in a sea of ridicule. Children won’t bother with neither religion nor god unless someone comes around and says to them that god and religion are sort of big deals -and they will fry in hell if they dare disagree.

    Children love stories, fales: there are gazillion of them out there which are all Earth (Universe?) bound and leave any sort of god and religion out. And, what’s best, there’s a very nice, hardcorver, illustrated book for each one of them. All you need to do is spend 5 minutes reading them yourself and then giving them to your child. And, better still, science is a copious source of wonderful stories -stories which are also real– and those, too, are to be found in very nice children’s book. Sneak a couple of them in your child’s library and they will do a lot of good. And there are videos, and there are non illustrate books you can read your children for half an hour, before they fall asleep… there is an enourmous body of narrative to satisfy your children wish for stories before you even have to think about considering religion.

    Furthermore, I don’t think children get the basics of their behavior from frontal lectures, whith one or two parents explaining what’s good and bad, possibly with a blackboard and tests afterwards. We humans, like our ape cousins, are stuffed with mirror-neurons and use them to learn by example. We imitate. So the last thing you need to do is preach from up on a table about the good and bad: you have to behave for the good and, perhaps, append a “because” after important statements you do and leave unearthly authorities out of the evidence you give.

    Summarizing, I think the answer to the question “how should I teach religion?” is very easy: just don’t.

    *Here



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  • Modesti Dec 6, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Why teach lies, and wrong ways of looking upon human origin and origin of Earth? Children deserves truth, and as Roedy has written, to teach religion is a form of child abuse. How can a child separate lies from truth if lies are taught equally in school side by side with the truth.

    That is the key issue. Children should be taught that lies and liars exist, but certainly not that they have equal merit with truth. They should be taught to examine claims and stories, for supporting evidence, and for indications of lying.

    One of the early lessons I learned as a child, was that commercial advertising claims are not to be trusted. Perhaps this is why those spoon fed by misinformation by religious and commercial media are encouraged to stay as mentally gullible children. Even today, my “mute-button reflex” is still sharp during commercial breaks on TV.

    There is also a lot of Hollywood and TV entertainment material, where suspending disbelief is required, and often plausibly blurred with documentary information.



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  • Lorenzo Dec 6, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Some think that children will run around asking “what religion should I comply with?” and “in which god must I believe?” as soon as they can speak. There’s a whole pamphlet*, on this site, that sets off to demonstrate the thesis and ends up in a sea of ridicule.

    Children are curious. If they are told nothing by parents, they will seek information from dubious sources, and the sort of pamphlet you refer to.

    It is far better that they get a balanced introduction to religious myths, from a source such as “The magic of Reality”

    I like moral folk-tales such as Aesop’s fables, which contain lessons in human wisdom, and opportunities to critically understand what is fiction. (ie. animals do not talk to each other in human languages.)



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  • This is exactly right, Roedy. And we should be interested in vaccination. In their various ways, sex, drugs/drink, and religion are attractive, addictive and life despoilers. These are subjects that should be discussed openly (age appropriately) and honestly.

    Religion needs to be got in early. As with RD, I’m entirely in favour of comparative religion as per the UK’s National Curiculum. The best kinds of involvement are the comparatively unmediated experiences got by P4C (Philosophy for Children) sessions that some schools are starting to run. A teacher friend some years ago was gratified by the shock pupils experienced discussing matters of morality with others in their class from the various religious or non religious homes. Kids don’t ever normally get to see what each other think of these deeper matters. (Teachers, for generative reasons, feed general ideas of niceness and kindness that elicit a somewhat false idea of commonality.) They are amazed at the varieties of ways morality may roll out in different homes. Parents don’t all toe a single party line.

    This is vaccination against ideology of the most profound sort.



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  • 7
    Lorenzo says:

    Children are curious. If they are told nothing by parents, they will seek information from dubious sources, and the sort of pamphlet you refer to.

    I’m not suggesting to unleash the children to roam the wide world of everything that’s been said and find their sources by themselves: that’s madness. What I’m suggesting is: do not bring about religion as an important subject (don’t bring it up in the first place and do not treat it as important if it comes up), on one hand, and on the other supply your children with some source you carefully select and leave her/him free to explore. You said it yourself: children are curious, thus you can be sure that anything left in their room will undergo a thorough exploration. Avoid the bible (or any other religious nuttery available for children), go for Aesop and some illustrated books about stars and animals.

    I am assuming that parents have total (or very nearly so) control over the souces their children have access to. Having this control, I think, is an essential part of being a parent… isn’t it?

    I like moral folk-tales such as Aesop’s fables, which contain lessons in human wisdom, and opportunities to critically understand what is fiction. (ie. animals do not talk to each other in human languages.)

    That is one very good example.



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  • Look at a situation like ISIS and use this as a teaching example of
    moderate versus extremist religious beliefs and how groups can use
    religious doctrine to justify evil actions. This is the same way
    moderate Christians differ from groups like the Westboro Baptist
    Church.

    Dan’s gloss here mght save space but I feel it omits an important point. The ‘moderate versus extremist’ polarity is actually very much a continuum between those who take their religion seriously and those who don’t. There is a fascinating history of gradual accomodation to reality, grading from literal to metaphorical faith, intuitional to scientific understanding, around this disparity. Very clearly illustrating not just that dogma is man-made but that in its most serious forms it’s in the process of failing to adapt to known facts.

    Perhaps the most important function of the teaching of comparative religion is that it juxtaposes contrary authoritarian beliefs and in a situation where there is no assumption that a truth can be embodied in a paradox. Simply the act of subjecting all religions to a logical analysis, bringing them under collective scrutiny, of itself asserts the primacy of sceptical enquiry.



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  • I think this terribly incomplete as an education.

    Whilst you may shield them from porn for a while with filters the flat out horrors of the US or the Middle East will pass under their gaze. They need to be properly prepared.

    If they suspect for one moment you are keeping something from them the thrill of the illicit will be your undoing.

    They need to understand why and how other peoples’ thinking works.

    Anything other than open honest disclosure is morally unacceptable. Curtailing their aesthetic pleasures is unacceptable. I used to think anthropomorphising animals in literature was wrong, but now I see that we have this ass-backwards (doesn’t work in English parlance). We have mammal aesthetics and pleasures not they ours. Bird thinking will be rather more scary. Brian Griffin becomes hugely poignant when he talks of dying in a few years. Metaphor is your creative friend you can’t hacksaw half of it off.

    (I’ve spoken a number of times about how I would tell my kids “facts” that were lies as a game and they had to find out which fact in the day was false. They pretty well always got it from the clues scattered. They later told me this was all rather hard work. It made them nicely sceptical, though.)

    I was happy to let my daughter (an atheist because her daddy was) explore religion and talk to me about it. I suggested (on advice from atheist friends) she look at Buddhism. It went spectacularly well. She thought it looked therapeutic/good then came across “Karma”. Talking this through she came to realise what a dreadful moral proposition this was, how the unfortunate may be ignored/abused for pre-incarnation error. This did for Buddhism and we looped to take in original sin. Slam dunk. Moral blackmail, delivering inferior morals.

    If you take the issue of religion as primarily a moral one, that religions’ key claims are its authority in matters of (correct) behaviours, then you can roll out all you need to say by simply demonstrating more moral positions.

    I think it a huge mistake to be too concerned about matters of scientific truth. These are simply set aside for the process by which things are found out nowadays. This will not be apprehended as unfair, when you say this was what they could do at the time, and when you conclude your discussions on morality you can talk of the immorality of concealing facts from people. (The best lesson I (13) ever got from my brother (23) was about the deep immorality of not serving the truth. I went into it a fibber and came out a scientist.)

    For me it is handled best making the proposition, “we want to do what’s best, don’t we?” Then giving the best tool for achieving it. A question. “How do we do that?”

    Getting my kids to think that, as parent or citizen, answering this question is our day job, and is my job half done. With this question I can go every where I need and so can they.

    (In matters of science truth I may have been a little too dismissive for an American audience…but not much.)



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  • phil rimmer Dec 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I think this terribly incomplete as an education.

    Whilst you may shield them from porn for a while with filters the flat out horrors of the US or the Middle East will pass under their gaze. They need to be properly prepared.

    On various threads I have liked “Piaget’s Operational Stages of Cognitive development”, of which all parents and teachers should be aware, when trying to pitch the right level of educational material to their children.

    I think it a huge mistake to be too concerned about matters of scientific truth. These are simply set aside for the process by which things are found out nowadays.

    While the volume of knowledge covered, makes children and parents dependent on identifying trustworthy sources, understanding the methodology appropriate to their development level, is an essential background. –

    As in the UK National curriculum Programme of Study I linked here:-
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/11/ofsted-reveals-serious-risk-to-students-physical-and-educational-welfare-in-faith-schools/#li-comment-161896



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  • Piaget did sterling work, but we know a lot more now, and I think he is a guide for teachers more than parents.

    I think his principle of not teaching particular ideas until a particular age, whilst teacherly is not parental. Kids are different one from another. Further I think a lot of useful material can be supplied in a non distracting way that pump primes what is to follow.

    I am a keen advocate of problem finding and problem owning as a discovery idea. This is a key motor to problem solving and thus to needful learning as opposed to playful learning.

    Piaget totally misses the unique access available in children where training is possible within a specific age range and how this particular opportunity can be used and abused. (Piaget didn’t have the evidential insight available at the time and would have downplayed it for his “more modern” pupil centred model, most likely. Piaget was propagandisng for a (groan) paradigm shift that later researchers could presume as having happened.)

    Piaget underplays collaborative play by putting it off ’til too late. (Great work was done in Italian schools, pre-reading, pre-writing using collaborative projects.) He also has nothing useful to say on the substantial cultural inputs, that I contend, dramatically shape early learning.

    Just a clarification on-

    I think it a huge mistake to be too concerned about matters of scientific truth.

    I mean entirely when talking to children about religion. When teaching science in faith schools the problem is best tackled by abolishing them.

    What I didn’t do was put appropriate ages on the activities I was talking about, my apologies. A lot of what I wrote was post Piaget’s age range of greatest interest.

    A last point. I screwed up my last paragraph. The final question is, of course, “how can we do this better than now?” It is almost never too early to pose such a question even if your knowledge of the “thing” in question is incomplete. Re-inventing the wheel, or democracy, or sandwiches, to discover how sandwiches are are actually made creates a lot of investment in the knowledge and greatly encourages later introspection and personal value making.



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  • phil rimmer Dec 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Piaget did sterling work, but we know a lot more now, and I think he is a guide for teachers more than parents.

    His work on identifying the need for development of concepts such as conservation of volume, can be very helpful in guiding pre-school and infant play activities with water, sand, etc. to build up practical concepts of the real world at an early age.

    I think his principle of not teaching particular ideas until a particular age, whilst teacherly is not parental. Kids are different one from another.

    It is very important to recognise this diverse range of rates of maturation in children, and recognise there are no fixed boundaries in these stages in term of age. Different children will reach stages at their own pace.

    There are however definite stages of development, where young children will be unable to cope with thinking which is beyond their level of development.

    Further I think a lot of useful material can be supplied in a non distracting way that pump primes what is to follow.

    There was certainly a lot of nonsense talked about misapplied concepts of “reading readiness” etc., in education debates, from people with narrow fixed ideas. They undoubtedly held back, some of the more able or more mentally mature children.



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  • My own experience is that teaching kids about religion is NOT necessary. Sure they can learn a few Bible stories as I did, and also other myths from around the world, but, never ever, was there any doubt in my offsprings’ upbringing about their parents’ lack of belief. It was just something that other people did, and not a part of their / our lives. Result 100% non-believers.

    But then I live in England, and not Bible Belt America. I couldn’t give a shit about being “ostracised” as many American atheists apparently have to. Christianity’s horns have long been cut off in this part of the world. Islam will, in time, also be tamed. Fiery ideals have to meet with economic reality at some point.



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  • Children need to be taught “about” religion so they can navigate the debates over the role of religion in society, political life, and school where other kids will confront them on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Knowledge is power– they need the knowledge to understand the beliefs of others.



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  • Exactly. I also can not see this necessity. I do not see what are children getting with it, I mean what kind of knowledge quality. As you have hinted Mr DArcy (if I have understood it correctly) at the end, schools (as we know them today) were created as a basis for economy,… to educate people for work. Economy needed workers.
    I do not see practicality in learning of religion. I understand that politics and religion are connected,… it is about imposing power, abusing that power, theft and control. I do not think that teaching religion is necessary, or a good thing because children will not learn anything moral from it. Any politician and priest knows how to lie, and they do it (with no bad conscience) to rob us, or to impose any sort of power upon free people. Children deserve truth.

    P.S. Phil Rimmer, I liked Your sentence:

    The best lesson I (13) ever got from my brother (23) was about the
    deep immorality of not serving the truth.



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  • Exactly! My kids are great at the debates with would-be religious others. Like other atheists they know more about religion than the religious. My son is doing English and Social History but subscribes to New Scientist. They both know that truth flows only from proving things wrong and that requires knowledge and not received wisdom.



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  • Well I would hope from the comments so far, that we are all agreed that scepticism is a healthy attitude to encourage in children, applied to religion, – and to all other subjects ?

    IMO a sceptical attitude soon dismantles religious sandcastles.



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  • Lorenzo Dec 6, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Children are curious. If they are told nothing by parents, they will seek information from dubious sources, and the sort of pamphlet you refer to.

    I’m not suggesting to unleash the children to roam the wide world of everything that’s been said and find their sources by themselves: that’s madness.

    The point I am trying to make here, is that if parents and teachers abdicate responsibility, and do not provide a sufficient range of information from reputable sources (on religions, sex, drugs or whatever), children are likely to pick up poor ideas from “Charlie Streetwise” and Co- (the know-it-alls from form 3Z), or directly or indirectly, from some repressive dogmatist preacher in church, Sunday School. or proselytising faith-school.



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  • Yes, but how did religions horns get cut off? Obviously they still must be in the states as they must be in Islam. My sister who now lives in the States is struggling with this issue now where her boys are being subjected to threat of hell and ostracism at school unless they convert. In many countries this is an ever present issue. I’d suggest you may indeed have many issues due to complacency by the non-religious having it okay but still being to some degree under the thumb of the religious. Do you not have a faith schools issue in England? Are Gays allowed to marry? Is Euthanasia legal? All I know is here in Australia while I feel no particular pressure to be religious, but they carry a lot more weight politically than they should, and especially at the moment on environmental issues (almost without exception those I know against AGW are religious). I may be wrong but I can’t help feeling I have a genuine fight on our hands.



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  • Modesti:

    As you have hinted Mr DArcy (if I have understood it correctly) at the end, schools (as we know them today) were created as a basis for economy,… to educate people for work. Economy needed workers.

    Well I don’t remember “hinting” about the need for the state schools to produce golden egg laying geese, in the form of workers, ready for the production line of producing profits, but that is my view.

    However the OP is more about family, surely ?



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  • Yep.

    scepticism is a healthy attitude to encourage in children.

    There are a ton of ideologies, political, economic and social theories just a step up from just-so stories. These often crass solutions-in-search-of-problems fritz evidenced thinking and reason more often than not.

    We need education to be quite generally and properly sceptical.



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  • It isn’t about teaching lies v. truth. I inhaled books about Greek mythology when I was in elementary school, but I never believed for a second that those gods actually existed. It’s about teaching the rich and diverse ways in which world cultures, both ancient and modern, have expressed themselves through and been shaped by their religions. Why do tourists to India see so many depictions of a guy with an elephant head sitting on a throne? Why are there both Hebrew prophets and Greco-Roman Sybils on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Who is the real hero of “Paradise Lost”? What do the differences between Homer and Thucydides tell us about the evolution of classical thinking about the gods? How might the ideas of Martin Luther have influenced the eventual thinking of the framers of the Constitution of the United States? If we make ourselves clueless about the cultures that produced us – including and maybe especially their religions – we lose the ability to understand our own history.



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  • Why make life more difficult than necessary for a child?

    I love coincidences, and purely by coincidence, as I was typing this I heard a Muslim spokesperson on the radio ask a question about the results of having pushed young men out of the protective environment of the Mosque, so that they hang around in the town, and Kebabs etc, picking up bad ideas, like going to fight for IS.

    Apparently: “There must be a Master Mind”; outside of the holy buildings?

    Nicely done.

    Listen @ bbc.co.uk/bh.



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  • Indygrl76 Dec 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Children need to be taught “about” religion so they can navigate the debates over the role of religion in society, political life, and school where other kids will confront them on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Knowledge is power– they need the knowledge to understand the beliefs of others.

    It is quite important to define terms, as when the RCC or evangelicals mention “religion”, or “god”, they are almost invariably talking exclusively about a particular one.

    Looking at the history of Egyptian, Greek, or early Roman gods opens up the field, but the understanding of these by the ignorant “pulpit educated”, is usually limited to dismissing them as “false gods” or “wrong interpretations”!

    It widens topics of conversation, if the theist’s assumption that their religion is a default, which is automatically assumed by everyone who mentions the word, – is avoided.

    You may have noticed, that when a theist claims that I “deny god”, I usually respond by asking, “Which one(s)?”. This puts them on the back foot, of explaining why they deny all the other gods – if they are at all rational!
    The locked-down closed minds, simply dismiss the question, as if past history and the rest of the World, does not exist.



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  • 29
    Katy Cordeth says:

    I’m gratified to discover that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a clue what OP stands for. I’ve wondered about it since I joined this site. Alan’s Opening Paragraph is obviously wrong as the opening paragraph in this article starts with “I was raised in a Christian home,” and ends with “guaranteeing me a place in Hell,” and when users refer to ‘the OP’ they’re not necessarily talking about the first few lines.

    Opening Post and Original Post sort of make sense; Opinion and Opinion Piece do not, because the articles we are invited to comment on are not editorials… except for the ones that are.

    Owl Problem is what I’m going to go with until I’m informed otherwise. This one for instance is a two hooter.



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  • Katy Cordeth Dec 7, 2014 at 6:21 am – Owl Problem is what I’m going to go with until I’m informed otherwise. This one for instance is a two hooter.

    There are many instances, where it is better to be roughly right, than precisely wrong!



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  • 34
    Katy Cordeth says:

    The third option is to admit one simply doesn’t know the answer. Ask Socrates, he’ll tell you there’s no shame in that.



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  • 35
    Katy Cordeth says:

    @#%$ing new commenting system. I hate it so much. Never mind, I have to go out anyway. I look forward to reading your reply on my return. Smiling Pac-Man face.



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  • Katy Cordeth Dec 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

    The third option is to admit one simply doesn’t know the answer. Ask Socrates, he’ll tell you there’s no shame in that.

    That really does not help the questioner find the text they are looking for! (This is a science site where information, content and substance, is more important than semantic pedantry)

    I really did give directions to WHERE the OP is!



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  • 38
    Lorenzo says:

    I think this terribly incomplete as an education.

    Of course, we are talking about just a piece of children education, not the whole lot: to teach or not to teach religion. Which, as noted from commento one, is a different matter than teaching about religion. If we want to go into a more ample discussion, you’re welcome… but it’s gonna be long.

    Whilst you may shield them from porn for a while with filters the flat out horrors of the US or the Middle East will pass under their gaze. They need to be properly prepared.

    They need to understand why and how other peoples’ thinking works.

    Nobody ever wanted to shield children against anything. Although, you may agree that exposing a very young child to full scale human horrors is just a pointless trauma, since she or he is not yet equipped with the mental capabilities to analyze and understand what’s at stake there, and why. There is a right time for everything.

    Perhaps we should define the age span we’re talking about: I’m considering children in prescholar age (in my country: up to six years old). After school takes on, education changes shape and, of course, a considerable part of it does not come from parents. Now there’s a sea of other problems when a child goes to school -and, of course, at some point it will be unavoidable to have deep discussions about what motivates people for the good and for the evil.

    If they suspect for one moment you are keeping something from them the thrill of the illicit will be your undoing.

    There’s a difference between hiding and acting secretive about something and treat that something as unimportant. What I’m suggesting is: do not make a big deal about religion, because it just isn’t. Making it a big deal does its game. You can teach morality by example -with your own behavior-, you can teach the value of evidence by example and by crafting games out of looking for evidence -as you did, and I love that- and you can do it all without ever mentioning religion.

    Anything other than open honest disclosure is morally unacceptable.

    Yes, of course. To a point: I wouldn’t expose a child to contents that are just going to traumatize and scare her or him but they cannot be understood. What you can comprehend at the age of 4 is different from what you can comprehend at the age of 10 or 16.

    Curtailing their aesthetic pleasures is unacceptable.

    I absolutely agree. That’s why I was speaking about filling up their room with good illustrated books (with nature, fables, cars, planes, stars and more in them) and chunks of wood they can play with, imaginig they are whatever they want and a gazillion more stuff that is an excellent training field for their developing brains. To insert into the mix a decrepit, badly thought out story with dubious moral content in the mix seems to me… deeply unnecessary.

    That said, religion has an historic importance, to understand how the human society evolved and why is the way it is nowdays. There’s a discipline concerned with this sort of things and it’s called History. That’s where I think religions should be confined and taught about -and most of the reilgion arey are confined there and they are taught about to understand the historical period at hand. Paganism, for example: you wouldn’t dream of teaching your child paganism in prescholar times because ortherwise their education wouldn’t be complete. Their historical knowledge wouldn’t be complete without knowing pagainsm -and not only: they wouldn’t be able to understand, say, Homer epics without it. But that doesn’t make it a subject that needs to be intrduced at the age of 3.



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  • 41
    aquilacane says:

    I was never taught religion. It was everywhere (Christinsanity) but I did not need to learn about other religions to understand the faults of Christianity. I think my lack of education about religion is the very reason I was able to laugh at it when it came up. To someone who is completely ignorant of religion, the claims sound as silly as every other silly claim. Childish and ignorant. Just boogeymen and superheroes. Religion really forced me to hold very low opinions of most adults in my childhood.



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  • 42
    Katy Cordeth says:

    “The third option is to admit one simply doesn’t know the answer. Ask Socrates, he’ll tell you there’s no shame in that.”

    That really does not help the questioner find the text they are looking for! (This is a science site where information, content and substance, is more important than semantic pedantry)

    I really did give directions to WHERE the OP is!

    You’ve got me there, I can’t deny it.

    Modesti, even though you may now be none the wiser about what OP stands for, I’m sure you’re now in no doubt about where it is. It’s that bit at the top, after About, News, Community, Events, Videos, Openly Secular, Shop, and before Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

    That was your question, I believe.

    This is a science site. Accuracy is not important. Being roughly right is enough.

    HCL, that’s the chemical formula for water, isn’t it?



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  • @ Lorenzo

    I think we must more or less agree about age appropriate teaching.

    What I’m suggesting is: do not make a big deal about religion, because it just isn’t.

    This depends where in the world you are. In New Hampshire…no big deal, but in proto-theocracy Mississipi (I jest only a little) real social problems will be a daily occurrence. In real theocracies these are life saving skills.

    pagans

    A visit to Stonehenge with a young child would get some kind of account of “pagans” from me. Ancient festivals and fearful superstitions, food running out and needing the year to turn…. followed by a Big Mac. We might visit Salisbury Cathedral after that, to see how slow progress was. It won’t go in whole, but fragments will each time.

    We all suffer from thinking the world is like (and is meant to be like) it was when we are young. I think we can usefully adapt this impression a little by trying to create a supplementary impression of change, of slow change gathering pace and at its fastest now. I think it would serve them well to know they are born into an age of exciting challenge and change. The old ways are important here, to see how we’ve changed and changed again.



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  • I can’t quote a single line or verse out of any religious book. My question is, how much do we teach our children about religion? Does it get to the point where your children are rhythmically nodding their heads while reading the Tanakh or sitting in a baron room reading the Koran to also see how that feels? A friend of mine learned about bible just so he can argue with Jehovah’s Witnesses on his doorstep. It just seems a waste of time, although I do subscribe to “Knowledge being power”.



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  • 46
    Lorenzo says:

    And the point I’m trying to make is not that you should avoid speaking about religion at all and/or leave the topic at the child’s arbitrium . The point I’m trying to make is that teaching religion (which is a different action as teaching about religion!) is not necessary. Because what gives religion power is that it’s percieved as important -or, better said: a carrier of important messages and contents. It is not -for me, at least.

    I think that by consistently deflating religion’s importance, by reducing it to a story among many -and not a very good one- you’re making it (quite) inoffensive.

    I should add, perhaps, that I’m the social context I live in is compatible with such an approach, because religious nuts are not where they can harm children by directly indoctrinating them -they do harm society but school is safe, and family would be also. In the US, perhaps, this is not so and you may have to be more incisive in both your position about the topic and the sources you provide.



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  • 48
    Lorenzo says:

    @ Phill:

    I think we must more or less agree about age appropriate teaching.

    I think so, too. For the record: I’m not for delaying because some topic are complicated -the very contratry. But there are some topics that, at some ages, are just out of reach.

    This depends where in the world you are.

    You’re very right about this. I didn’t take in account what happens somewhere in US: there you might need to build in your child some stronger antibodies by being more incisive on the subject matter. Let’s just say: in large northern Italian cities you can take it easy.

    A visit to Stonehenge with a young child would get some kind of account of “pagans” from me. […]

    That’s exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the historical relevance of religions. But that has to do with the monument and not so much with one religion itself.



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  • In my opinion religious lessons should not be taught in school equally with other subjects. Lies with the truth. If someone wants to find out about origin of religions, myths etc. they can learn it apart from public schools. Why put that lessons in schools? Why is it so important or necessary to put religious lessons in schools? Anyone who is interesting in the subject can learn about it elsewhere. But if catholic or protestant faith (or any other) is taught in school like a lesson (and not critically), than yes there should be a lessons disputing those.



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  • A friend of mine learned about bible just so he can argue with Jehovah’s Witnesses on his doorstep. It just seems a waste of time,

    Hi Olgun,

    If you are going to choose to argue with Jehova’s Witnesses on the doorstep then you are better off being prepared. And I believe it is important to do so. Sewing a little cognitive dissonance about the place is not a bad thing, if we all did our bit there would be a lot less religious people around. But I grant you while I have read the Bible and the Koran, I haven’t opened every bit of holistic nonsense peddled by every mystic out there, but as they are currently at the fringe in terms of their effects on us it probably isn’t necessary.

    Regards



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  • Modesti Dec 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    In my opinion religious lessons should not be taught in school equally with other subjects. Lies with the truth. If someone wants to find out about origin of religions, myths etc. they can learn it apart from public schools.

    There is a basic problem in teaching social and political history.
    Armies, kings, and emperors, have a habit of “having god on their side” throughout history.
    This, coupled with the fact that winners write historical accounts of wars with themselves as “goodies”, and the fact that political regimes and theologists, like to retrospectively re-write history to make their fellow ideologists look good, their enemies look bad, and their mythologies look true, – means that there are arguments about what is valid information, in records which have been preserved.



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  • Yes, I can see I am being lazy in a way. I do speak up when I am asked about religion though and would prefer to argue on the basis of science rather than religion. They need to know their science in order to argue with me. To be honest I did it subconsciously and now realise that it might be a better way of doing it. Let them do the leg work and learn about science in the process. I don’t pretend to know any way near those on this forum but I do have common sense and the basics. I have been introduced to so much knowledge here and have so much reading I would like to do that I don’t want to waste any time on gobbledegook.



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  • I think I would like an area within Social Studies or Study of Society that deals with he subject of religion as an historical artifact and the influence religions have on society. Treat them just like any other social phenomena or ideology. Study them in the same way students would study Communism or Fascism. If students see religion as just another item on a supermarket shelf of ideas, it reduces it to “Nothing Special”. I think to not discuss religion during the education of children, gives it a mystic it doesn’t deserve.

    As for the indoctrination into the religion, that is child abuse. When a person has reached an age (18??) where they can make responsible and informed decisions about material put before them, that is the time when religious spruikers can stand on their soap box and tout for business. Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.



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  • Study them in the same way students would study Communism or Fascism.
    If students see religion as just another item on a supermarket shelf
    of ideas, it reduces it to “Nothing Special”. I think to not discuss
    religion during the education of children, gives it a mystic it
    doesn’t deserve.

    By the time they get to that stage, I would sit them in front of the TV for a few of hours of Life of Bryan and Family Guy. That aught to sort them out 🙂



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  • @Olgun. My children grew up on Life of Brian. Tears running down their cheeks. They still oft quote suitable lines when events occur in life. Everything anyone needs to know about religion, especially the “You’re all individuals” speech from the balcony.

    As an aside, my children went to a private Lutheran school. (Academic / Sport etc) During Religious Instruction, the students were allowed to bring in material from home for discussion. My son brought in Life of Brian. The teacher wanted to watch it before the class did. He only got 20 minutes into that night it before he turned it off in disgust. It was not appropriate for RI class. My son still talks proudly of the C- he got for RI. My daughter, who constantly questioned everything that was being said in RI got an A. She’s still miffed.



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  • “OP” is usually used in this context as an abbreviation of “Original Poster”, referring to the individual who originally posted the discussion topic.
    However, it is important to educate yourself on alternative uses and interpretations as there are those who believe differently.



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  • I think the impact of teaching about religions very much depends on the home environment the children come from. Children of atheist or laid back religious homes probably find it interesting in building up a worldview which will inform them in later decisions they will make (i.e. They will pay about as much attention as they do to anything else we do with them) and will give them some ideas about the madness going on in various parts of the world thus enabling them to shake their heads knowingly while discussing them in pubs. However, for the children of parents who are obsessive about their religion, it tells them about other beliefs which may be equally valid to their own family’s beliefs. This will be unlikely to have any immediate effect, but will, I hope, give them pause for thought somewhere further down the line. As Roedy pointed out above, this could act as a vaccination against the views of obsessive parents (OP anyone?).
    Recently we were trying to change casual homophobia (that’s so gay, you’re gay – used as an insult etc) at our place and received a letter co-signed by a group of children (aged 7and8) of ‘OPs’ saying we should be more concerned about children casually saying ‘oh god, or Jesus Christ’ as expletives. It’s so important, seemingly to be the oppressed ones, especially when caught out oppressing, then get the children to put your views forward.
    I think it’s important that we teach about religion, and the importance of respecting it, that is in the sense I’ve mentioned before meaning we respect views enough not to accept them uncritically or shy away from discussing them rationally.
    Maybe I’m in the wrong job…



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  • Alan4discussion: There is a basic problem in teaching social and
    political history. …political regimes and theologists, like to
    retrospectively re-write history…

    Exactly! That is why I like that French saying “Happy people do not write history.” 🙂 History is a collection of notes on life of unfortunate people. If only there would be no history lessons in school, perhaps we would depend less on the past and live more in present, but someone would say that history teaches us not to make same mistakes in present.

    David R Allen: I think I would like an area within Social Studies or
    Study of Society that deals with he subject of religion as an
    historical artifact and the influence religions have on society.

    Yes!

    … study Communism or Fascism. …

    Do not forget Capitalism.



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  • Hello Doug.

    One piece of knowledge I possess is that it’s a waste of time arguing about religion; it shape-shifts from moment to moment and from individual to individual. It is at any time, precisely what any one person wants or needs it to be.

    In essence, it’s the ultimate refuge from reality.

    Have you ever noticed the facility the religious mentality has to flit from the indicative to the subjunctive; from the actual to the imagined or wished for?

    I just love rice puddings! Don’t you? How fortunate we are that God made them possible.

    Or a bald statement about what God wants or has ordained; subtext, I have a direct line to the almighty and know its mind.

    Or, when stumped for an answer to a leading question, such as, if God saved you and your dog from drowning in the flood, why did he kill all those thousands of others? the refrain emerges “God works in mysterious ways.”

    Perhaps the subtext here is, I’m different, or exceptional.

    I recently heard a recording of some poor guy fleeing gun fire in Syria, and as he did so he repeatedly screamed “Allah Akbar.”.

    I wonder whose side God was on at that moment.



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  • I think they both deserve an A in life.

    Life of Brian is definitely in my top three best films. So many contenders for the other two places but can’t make up my mind.



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  • Teaching of religion should not be confined to the religions that are big enough and long-established enough to seem like an inevitable part of society. Just comparing the finished products, as it were, does not show how religions formed from the beliefs about the world of our ancestors. Cultural anthropology is a necessary part of understanding the nature of religion. Nor should the new religions be ignored. Mormonism is a very good case study in the creation of a religion, as are various cults which never made it to the status of religions.

    The teaching would be in an age-appropriate way, obviously, and it shouldn’t loom too large in the curriculum but it is an important subject and shouldn’t be taught in a misleading way to suggest that religions are unlike other cultural artifacts.



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  • Cultural anthropology is a necessary part of understanding the nature of religion.

    @Aldous. Good thought. Reminds me of the Australian Aboriginal culture, said to go back 50,000 years that has a rich tapestry of Dream Time stories as they are called. Creation myths. Rainbow serpents. Everything in the landscape has a story of explanation for the Aborigines. It’s a model proto religion. Like this…

    “Dreaming” is also used to refer to an individual’s or group’s set of beliefs. For instance, an Indigenous Australian might say that he or she has Kangaroo Dreaming, or Shark Dreaming, or Honey Ant Dreaming, or any combination of Dreamings pertinent to their country. This is because in “Dreamtime” an individual’s entire ancestry exists as one, culminating in the idea that all worldly knowledge is accumulated through one’s ancestors. Many Indigenous Australians also refer to the Creation time as “The Dreaming”. The Dreamtime laid down the patterns of life for the Aboriginal people.[1]

    Full text here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamtime

    As aldous so correctly points out, this should also be included in the teaching ABOUT religion in Study of Society, because it is equally valid as any of the current dominant religions.



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  • I genuinely do not get it. I seem to agree on different points on each post but still keep coming back to not wanting my children taught religion. It is a big part of our history but so are many other things that do not have a category of their own. On “Wiki” there are 4,200 religions and many many associated links, and here is a list of hobbies (Zumba is apparently a hobby and not an exercise). The list of hobbies was the result of people writing in to register theirs. At what point does it stop? At what point do people complain to the education board to include their “religion” in the curriculum? It seemed simple when each country taught its own religion but it now needs a professorship in order to have any understanding at all. Einstein found a formula that explained a whole book of equations. Do we need to try to equal the force of religion with a knee jerk reaction to our fear that our children might get indoctrinated into the underworld of religion? Hasn’t what we on this forum have done with our own children been enough? I am still to be convinced.



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  • I think you have hit on a really great point. Religion is a hobby, nothing more and nothing less. I’d never thought of it that way. Perhaps returning it to the box marked ‘Hobby’ and not allowing it to sprawl around impersonating a universal theory of everything would be a more realistic aim for atheists than its eradication (thanks spell checker!).

    Somewhat counter intuitively I wonder if adults who have reasoned their way out of religion value their freedom more than those, who, by having rational parents, have not had to make tough decisions to get it. That said there are plenty of Stockholm Syndrome Christians in my family as I observed at my uncle’s recent funeral. ‘I don’t really believe but I don’t want to offend Aunt Susan.’ We are probably over complicating this; the children will make up their own minds in the end even if it takes a long time, see Derren Brown’s life story. As the Who said, the kids are alriiiiiiiiight.
    As to them being indoctrinated, some of the nastier cults (thanks again spellchecker) and I include Jehovah’s witnesses here, prey on people who have had bad break ups, bereavements etc and in my experience rational people are just as vulnerable as the believers when someone shows up who will listen.

    Principles to teach children… Read the small print, consider the motivation of people being nice (better than don’t trust), look before you leap and don’t teach your children stuff that someone else has put up on the comments section of a website without thinking it through and deciding whether you agree. (And relax and enjoy life, there’s not much of it so make the most of it while you can).



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  • I agree with you Olgun.

    Teach children to learn as much as possible about life, its pleasures and pitfalls, or its realities, and I think religion will simply atrophy and die.

    Try to teach them about religion and they simply become confused, and or frightened.

    Talk about religion to any of my family and you’ll receive a blank gaze, framed by a puzzled facial expression.

    My next t shirt will have emblazoned upon it: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    I think it’s safe to say that the corollary to that, is that religion is precisely the opposite.



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  • We’re fortunate over here in the UK that religion isn’t really taught on a par with other subjects or issues in society. I’m sure it is within certain groups and subgroups, but not as a whole. I don’t think we really have to worry too much about our children being taught religion. Most parents that I know will have had their child exposed to nativity plays etc, and take it pretty lightly as to make too much out of it will somehow make it special in their childrens’ eyes.

    The biggest problem is if your local school is RC or CofE, but that is much less problematic given the relative strictness of our national curriculum.



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  • I disagree, Olgun.

    My father was an enlightenment atheist. My mother believed in niceness and decorum in front of the neighbours. No making waves. And I was a hugely protected child, knowing a lot scientifically but little culturally. I was protected from anything that didn’t fit in with my healthy diet of pre-digested thoughts. Ghosts I was told were just made up. Heaven and God, nice stories. I truly didn’t believe in burglars at seven thinking all such scarey stuff was made up in like fashion. At ten I had built my first radios and a transmitter but by thirteen I had discovered the aesthetic thrill of the mystical. I had no ruler, no experience or advice on dealing with it and was already out of any useful control because of my age.

    I had a lot of time having fun with it but making no real intellectual progress. University doing physics was a path of least resistance having no real need to do it for myself. Then during a spell teaching photgraphy and print making at college level I encountered my first Creationist. (I didn’t know they existed.) She was nineteen and American and seemingly intelligent and I was totally dumbfounded. I didn’t know if she was mad or I was. As it happened it was her. It took another two decades to comprehend the rotten heart of her society and for me to start making better life choices, and that I had been wrongly discovering merit where there was none.

    I made sure my children weren’t given an idealised view of the world. They sail through it with far more than I at their age, neatly side-stepping the worthless.



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  • By law, all children in state schools in England, are required to take part in a religious service every day. It’s just so absurd and outdated that many schools ignore the law or find ways round it. Yet, it’s a bad law and should be abolished. It should be abolished because thousands of schools continue to have religious worship. It should be abolished because it’s always open to being exploited by religious groups and imposed on pupils. A school is a place of education, not a place of worship.



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  • What you say about your children interesting phil.

    My daughters argue the toss with me all the time, which can be irritating, and some times when things get heated a bit upsetting, but just this morning I told the one I had a tiff with yesterday that it’s a good thing that she’s sceptical; questions everything, stands up for herself and takes nothing for granted.

    I can’t imagine either of them ever falling for any religious jive or con tricks.

    .



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  • Scepticism is key as is discovering that grown ups in general are not to be automatically trusted and that cultures are differently good at different things and none get automatic respect ever including that of a parent. Challenge away….all of it.

    Cultures gutter and die, or make its people miserable, have harm reduction woven into them, hobble the individual or hobble the collective. Seeing good cultures and bad, and being invited into making them better should be our educational gift. When most of the world’s cultures are still religious, of course children need to understand deeply why this is.

    The new burst of brain wiring that kicks off after puberty is the last little glimmer of influence we may have. They are dividing off, creating themselves for good or ill. You are no longer the authority, you are there on trial to give an account of what you may have spoon fed them when younger. If you are not totally open handed, fair, evidenced and reasoned you may do untold harm. Arguing, pushing and probing is their job, yours to take it.

    One thing I found useful, when exhausted and unable to account for my restrictions on them or my statements on this or that, I craved their indulgence, and that whilst as the dad I get a temporary last say on matters, I would acknowledge that they deserved at some time later a full and proper account for my thoughts or deeds or an apology (this latter sometimes followed with some recompense. Words are cheap but cinema tickets are a hurtful tenner.)

    Telling off is something that can be done quite badly. I never tell children off for any confession. I praise all acts of honesty and never darken it with judgment there and then. Wait a few hours or a day or two and discuss it in the coolest of ways being utterly clear about your judgment of morality or safety (you get agreement every time) and move on to better strategies of handling events. You want your kids to bring you all their problems. Open, honest discussion should be a relief for them not a further problem.



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  • There is only one reason to teach kids a specific religion and that is to sustain it, because teaching it to mature individuals would just get you laughed at.
    I never taught my children any thing specific about “morals” nor did I force them to attend a church. So far, after a combined total of 60+ years, they have no criminal record and to the best of my knowledge have not abused, coerced, blackmailed, threatened, scared or otherwise imposed their personal desires on anyone else. I guess that’s put paid to their chances of the great gig in the sky at the end of their lives. Lucky them, as I’ve heard it’s full of delusional, manipulative bigots and fools.



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  • I have always taught my children that it is not a matter of trust, it’s a matter of getting the facts right and acting with confidence. My father being the negative influence on me. He has no education, trusts no one, and therefore has no confidence. I love him dearly and he means no harm but lives on a hair trigger.



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  • My eldest sons report and year book reads like a parents nightmare. He is praised for being really intelligent and then condemned for being argumentative. His yearbook is full of praise by his friends for “sticking it” to the teachers and one even said they look forward to seeing him as the PM of the UK. He won scholarships all the way through his education and is exactly where he wants to be. The youngest has not got the natural ability that his brother has and has to work a lot harder but still will not take things for granted. They were never left in front of the TV alone but had me constantly asking them if they understood what they were watching. They soon got fed up with it but by then had the tools needed.



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  • I can fully understand what you are saying about being protected. My mother was overbearing in that sense and it was a combination of her nature and my sensitivness. I am still finding out things about my family that was hidden from me and that we are not as close and happy as I grew up thinking we were. My memories seem to mean nothing. Everything has changed. I too have had to react against pampering and over protecting my children. I told my oldest about the myth of Santa when he was about five. When his mum wasn’t looking, I took to him to one side and told him it was his mum that spent hours and hours thinking and then buying presents for him and it is she who should be thanked not some fictitious Santa. I got a bollocking from the Mrs for it. (I don’t want people to think that I left it all to the wife out of choice. My wife is a whirlwind. Christmas shopping is done throughout the year. I like to get into the spirit first, by which time it is all over bar a couple of things)

    I am not saying that there should be no exposure to religion or any other thing that exists in this world Phil. That would be silly and dangerous. My kids grew up quick in that respect. It is in school that I object to. I don’t see the need. It’s the patents responsibility. I want school to teach them stuff to get them into work. Morality and religion is my job. For those parents that can’t, then night school should be offered maybe. Teach those old enough to make the decision to teach their children.



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  • I want school to teach them stuff to get them into work. Morality and religion is my job.

    And this is exactly what I don’t want. What I want is children being introduced to and noticing their differences in thinking and the commonality of their desires. I don’t want parents poisoning their kids as they were poisoned. I want the cycle broken by a suitable National Curiculum with strongly policed standards, with mere facts and evidence on the table (including what the various religious do and how they think). Education should be full fat not skimmed so that at all points there is a chance that a corrective to abusive ideas can be given.

    I wish I’d had the RE education that my kids had. I would have had a lot of ideas made clear and worked through by university.

    Besides (and this is way outside of the topic and a personal foible), I want schools to educate in matters of happiness and the myriad ways it is got. I want educative “playtime” extended. Last time this happened our culture took off like a rocket. Education is for life not just for jobs.



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  • Religious teachers fairly teaching the curiculum can do a good job, as I’ve seen for myself. Even in a nominally CofE school, atheists regularly took RE lessons. Noting the facts about what different groups believe and how they act is not indoctrination, but for the already indoctrinated it will come as fresh air.



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  • I don’t know Phil. We are going to have children with possible religious parents at home being taught by possibly religious teachers in school about religion and they are expected to make up their minds some how that both parents and teachers are wrong and pick atheism. It sounds a bit of a mess to me but maybe I haven’t understood the concept. It worked for my boys that they got their decontamination from home and raising the numbers of adults seems a more productive way forward for me. RD has asked for successful atheist to come out and make it sexy and sensible to effect all ages. Isn’t that a much better way?



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  • We are going to have children with possible religious parents at home being taught by possibly religious teachers in school about religions

    Fixed.

    Now the UK RE NC is in need of modernising. I (aided a little by the BHA!!) have long and now succesfully argued for clear inclusion of other worldviews including those of humanism, and further, ethics and the inclusion of P4C as a discovery tool for some of these ideas. (OK they did it all. And my ethics and P4C email might have gone to the wrong address.)

    FWIW Faith Schools should not exist.



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  • Do you consider this “argu[ment] about religion” to be a waste of time?
    I think what you mean is probably the same thing I think: it’s a waste of time to argue with certain people about religion.
    I appreciate and agree with much of what you write here, but I don’t think all arguments about religion (or with apparently religious people) are a waste of time. Sometimes you have to engage to find out whether you’re dealing with a “lost cause” (in which case your knowledge has very little power, if any, so persisting is certainly a waste of time) or one who is open to reason (in which case the time might be well spent by helping someone get closer to the truth).
    It seems to me that one of the best uses of the power contained in knowledge is to help others improve their lives (and perhaps your own at the same time).



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  • I don’t think secularists should consider that the battle has been won in English (and Welsh) schools. I say ‘English’ because Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own education systems.

    Advice from the government about teaching ‘British values’ to schoolchildren emphasizes the importance, as they see it, of ‘collective worship’. Particularly, the implications of this sentence need careful consideration. “Pupils must be encouraged to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance.” Of course, it would be wrong to discriminate against others simply because of their faith, race or culture. While we should respect the right to profess a faith, I don’t think a faith is something that, in itself, automatically deserves respect. Yet, this seems to be the official attitude to religion. However ridiculous you think it is, you’re not allowed to say so. That’s illiberal, it seems to me. What happened to freedom of speech?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/380595/SMSC_Guidance_Maintained_Schools.pdf



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  • Mr. Arel’s opening line says it all: “I was raised in a Christian home and was taught very little about other religions”.
    He is unfamiliar with what it means to be raised in a house without religion. For our family there was no focus on any religion except simple explanations of major holidays as they arose. My children weren’t raised atheist, they simply weren’t taught religion and as adults consider themselves atheist. They learned about religion as it arose in the context of history in school.



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  • Reckless Monkey:

    Yes, but how did religions horns get cut off?

    The Devil, in the form of capitalism, the unions in forcing better working conditions, and the more ready and appealing other diversions apart from the opiate, in the form of TV, pop music, football and the like.

    Don’t forget, in the USA, religion is a ‘free enterprise’ business. The freedom to sell bullshit to all comers. In the state sponsored religions of Europe the “helfire and brimstone” element lost its allure over the years, and football etc became more appealing. Call me an optimist if you like, but I’m sure the same is true of the USA in the coming years.



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  • @Modesti – Why is it so significantly and good to teach children any religion? I do not know a single reason. Well… Here is one pretty good reason : religionS exist.

    It’s certainly a shame, but religions (still) pervade our societies, right ? So… not teaching children about potentially harmful phenomena that they are doomed to encounter in the real world anyway… is to give them a very bad start into life ! Don’t you think ?



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  • @Stafford – I don’t agree with you : it is never a waste of time discussing religion with “faithful” people —even with integrists ! (That is… if you are willing to block a certain amount of time to change for a while with your daily routines, of course).

    That might surprise you, but I back my argument on years and years of ‘scuffling’ with hundreds of biblemongers (and even qu’ranmongers !).

    Best training grounds : the wildest circus arena to be, which is.. the Yahoo comments space after news articles on any religion. I noticed that, passed the first deluge of low-levels insults, the lengh of a thread litterally sifts the trolls away. Then “serious” talks can commence, because at that point, only honest (and/or dishonest) religious debaters stay around, eager to develop what they consider as “strong” arguments.

    Then believe me, things are not so binary on their side, and when put in front of unescapable contradictions, quite a few of them start losing ground…

    I noticed many times that, when they stop replying and suddenly leave the thread, it is, most of the time, because they are afraid to get muddled. And sometimes, more often than not, when I cross their way in another thread, they nag at me, asking me to give them more details about such and such argument I developped few days earlier.

    You may draw the conclusions you want, but at least, it is a mark that they started “munching on the cookie bush”… Of course it is not based on any scientific protocol —it”s just empirical observations on a small cluster…



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  • I think the pendulum is still in your half of the argument as far as possibilities go Phil but has swung a little way back in terms of probabilities if we take this into account. I know it’s possible to do better, as seen when failing schools are taken over with more intensive remedies, and know it will work overall if that intensity is visited on all schools with investment. I just am not convinced that it will be. Although I believe the quality of teachers varies greatly, I think it’s unfair to put the blame solely on their shoulders. There is so much wrong with the system, right the way up to government, that it could do more harm than good in the wrong hands. I no longer have any problem with the theory, just the execution.



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  • I share your concerns, Olgun. But I have my plans, should I get the call from the education minister….

    I want higher training levels like Finland. I want lower performing schools to be directed towards a more dirigiste implementation of an appropriately tightened NC, like France, with more stock usage of exemplary teaching materials, lesson plans, lesson videos. I want these schools to be freed to move into that more Finnish mode of autonomous teachers as school competence rises.

    Great teachers know what they are doing and only they can nuance their methods for individual pupil needs.



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