I note that the atheist religious evangelist Richard Dawkins in on Channel 4 again complaining about faith schools and telling us in superior and somewhat condescending tones about how divisive they are to the community.
I also note that in these presentations and debates there are underlying assumptions that are never mentioned, and I therefore suppose do not exist, at least that is the conclusion to which I am expected to be drawn.
But think about it for a moment, not about the premise of whether Richard Dawkins might be right or wrong, but consider what he does not tell us in his programme, or does not allow us to ask. He simply makes the bold statement, ‘faith schools cause community division’, as if that is the root cause of all division.
Where I live, post codes cause community division; there are young people I know that won’t move from one post code area to another as they fear they will be beaten up.
Then there are people who live in ‘posh areas’, who divide themselves from those live in the ‘not so posh’ areas. Is that community division?
I did not go to a faith school, I went to an ordinary secondary school, we wore green blazers, the school up the road wore red blazers, and the two groups had fights and divided the community. There are many things that divide communities, money, housing, blazers, music, clothes, skin colour, accent, language, post codes, and I’m sure you could add to my list. Whilst it suits Mr. Dawkins spurious agenda to highlight faith schools as divisive, the division of community is a deep and complex problem, and his opposition to faith schools is, or course, deeper and more complex. If his proposed atheist schools go ahead, will they be divisive?
During his Channel 4 programme he states, ‘these faith schools indoctrinate children’. He makes it sound like a wicked thing, to indoctrinate children. It is implied that we have no right to give children a view on the world, to tell them things are right or wrong. The manner in which he says it leaves us with the impression that we have all agreed that indoctrinating children is wrong.
On the subject of indoctrination, which I have thought about a lot because people like Mr. Dawkins would always accuse me of doing it, are you really convinced that non faith schools don’t indoctrinate children, about anything? That all teachers have no world view, no opinions, and pass on to the children pure, unadulterated, unbiased teaching on every subject. Please! Whatever areas children are exposed to there will always be an element of indoctrination, it’s unavoidable, and none of us have the privilege of a totally blank sheet.
In schools you often hear the phrase ‘the hidden curriculum’ this refers to things that are not written down, they are not in the year plan, not on the lesson plans, not in the text books but nevertheless are real and apply to the ethos, values and world view of the staff and administration, and will be evident and filtered down to the children.
I’ll give you a couple of examples, these are from my own experience with my own children, from two of their schools, and both were English grammar exercises, with the request to ‘re-write this sentence correcting grammar, spelling and punctuation.’
Sentence one – jesus went around doing good and healing the sick in irael for around 3 years.
Sentence two – when i got home from school i found my boyfriend john in bed with another girl
No hidden curriculum there then, and no indoctrination.
In my opinion, Richard Dawkins is a religious atheistic fundamentalist, and he wants to indoctrinate us all to his point of view. I strongly believe that he should have the right to try, but I know from my email post bag that there are those who share his view, who if they had the power, would not want to extend that right to me, they would, as one of them put it, ‘silence me’ if they could. I wonder why they do not want me to have the same right to speak out and indoctrinate and influence as they would want for themselves, and I, of course, want them to retain.