Tag Archives: education

What is it good for?

To paraphrase Edwin Starr’s song War:

NSCP, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing

Today @ChrysStevenson tweeted about an article on the sunshinecoast.com.au site titled: School Chaplains programme could end. Written by Liberal National Federal Member for Fisher Peter Slipper who warns that “a valued school programme could be at risk under Labor.” That “valued” school program? The totally wasteful, dangerous and delusional National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). Slipper warns that under a Labor government Gillard may cancel funding to the NSCP, he states that:

The Liberal National team has committed to keep funding part-time school chaplains for at least another three years.

As if that’s a good thing!

Apart from a few deluded religious people, and obviously the churches as they see this as a great, taxpayer funded, way to proselytise to a captive audience, I don’t accept that there really are that many people who think the NSCP is a good idea?

Slipper tries to argue

“Even the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described school chaplains as the ‘glue’ that holds school communities together.

Well Rudd would, he’s a deluded religious nut too.

Slipper’s final statement

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be another Labor backflip.”

Should be worded:

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be the right thing to do.”

The only possible reason I can see that some school principals and teachers see the NSCP as a good thing is that it provides government funding for some sort of counselling. The problem is that this funding is going to unqualified and unskilled religious ministers. What the government should do is provide the same amount of funding to fully qualified, trained, experienced, secular counsellors such as the Australian Psychological Society has recommended in their submission (pdf).

I posted a comment on Peter Slipper MP’s article, under my twitter OzAz name, and also sent the MP an email, this is a copy of that email:

Just read your piece on the mysunshinecoast.com.au site. I for one, and there are very many like me, would be more than happy to see the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) end. It is a total waste of taxpayers money and appalling that taxpayer funds are used to promote religion in public schools.

I have posted a comment on the site, I trust you will bother to read it and the other comments deploring the NSCP. In case you do not have the time to read all the comments, I posted this link: http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/APS-Submission-School-Chaplains-July2010.pdf I strongly suggest you read it, take your obvious religious bias out of the equation and decide if the APS has a valid point.

I’m not affiliated with the APS at all, and not sure if their proposal is the best, but I am sure it would be better than having chaplains performing counselling services, and at least it is a secular approach. Which is the way it should be in state schools.

Regards

May I suggest you also write a comment and or send an email to Peter Slipper peter.slipper.mp@aph.gov.au letting him know that a lot of people do NOT want the NSCP.

Cheers

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Will the Senate get it right?

The 7.30 report tonight discussed how the Senate is due to discuss private school funding.

A vote is expected in the Senate late tonight on the Government’s controversial $28 billion assistance package for private schools. The Coalition is resisting key elements of the bill, including a national curriculum and public disclosure of the finances of non-government schools. The nation’s top private schools have condemned the public disclosure provisions accusing the Government of a hidden agenda to cut funding, but the Government strongly denies this.

The transcript should be up tomorrow as well as the podcast if you missed it.

Of course the religious private schools are crying foul and don’t think they should disclose where all their money comes from. The interviewees came up with all sorts of lame reasons why they should be above everyone else when it comes to full monetary disclosure, but it was easy to read between the lines:

We don’t want people to find out how rich we are, because the government might not give us as much tax-free taxpayers money.

May write more once the transcript is up.

From the paper a couple of weeks ago, the private schools complaining why they shouldn’t have to disclose where their income comes from, comes this quote:

… half the present courses being scrapped and possibly prohibit the teaching of intelligent design in Christian schools.

Oh dear, the Christian schools, that get vast amounts of tax-free taxpayer’s money, might not be able to afford to teach ID, how sad. </sarcasm>

By all accounts private schools get 2/3 of education funding but only teach 1/3 of all students, how the heck is that right?

update 3 Dec

The Senate vetoed the bill last night, the main reason being stated is that the opposition are not happy with the national curriculum. from abc.net.au/news

Last night the Opposition and Family First Senator Steve Fielding combined to remove the parts of the bill relating to a national curriculum.

But the Government will not accept the amendments when the bill is returned to the Lower House.

The government wants to have a national curriculum for all schools, but, somewhat unfortunately, the curriculum isn’t finalised yet. Hence the opposition and Senator (right-wing fundamentalist religious party) Fielding are saying they can’t pass the bill not knowing what’s going to be in the final draft of the national curriculum. On the face of it this would seem a somewhat reasonable stance, however (donning sceptical hat) I don’t think this is what it is really about. (donning educated guessing hat) I would assume the government’s national curriculum is going to be conservative and aimed to ensure  students throughout Australia all get taught the same basic subject matter (reading, writing, arithmetic), I can’t imagine it’s going to have any outlandish subjects that have to be taught.

So, even though the final draught hasn’t been released, what could possibly be worrying Senator Fielding and members of the opposition? May I hazard a guess, they are worried that the new national curriculum will ban teaching ID and dedicated religious subjects? Who knows?

As Matt points out in the comments not all religious schools teach ID or Creationism, in fact some have very good biology subjects. However there are some schools that teach these subjects, or whilst teaching evolution also teach that the bible is the ultimate authority, hence confusing young impressionable minds.

Have a look at my post A Christian Education for some further information on this topic.

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Technical Education Goes Sectarian And Private

Rudd and Gillard continue the Howard toxic legacy of throwing vast amounts of money to tax exempt religious organisations in order to run (or should that be ruin) our education system. Turning what should be a secular system, open to everyone, providing unbiased (religiously) education; into a sectarian education system overseen by organisations with one purpose in mind; to convert everyone to their particular religious ideology, and get good tax breaks whilst doing it.

Now the government has gifted four Technical Colleges to religious organisations.

Well they reckon Jesus was a carpenter, so I guess it fits. </sarcasm>

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Paganism to be taught in school?

Why not, every other religion is, at least pagans don’t believe in an authoritarian deity. The United Pagan Church of Australia (UPCoA) wants to teach paganism in government schools in New South Wales (NSW). As the UPCoA state on their website:

In New South Wales, government schools are required to provide religious education of two types:

  • General Religious Education (GRE); and
  • Special Religious Education (SRE).

The UPCoA believe that they should be allowed to have the option for their children to receive Pagan based SRE. The UPCoA are currently putting a submission to government “to initiate the process of obtaining Ministerial endorsement to provide SRE.”

One of the interesting things on the UPCoA Pagan SRE in schools page, was the link to the NSW DoEaT page: Groups approved to provide Special Religious Education in NSW Government Schools. Wow, that’s a lot of different religions!

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Answers to a Muslim

I received two long comments from Muslims on my ‘A Muslim Education’ post. The comments from lwtc247 required more  than a simple response from me in the comments section, hence this post.

I suggest you first read lwtc247’s comment at the ‘A Muslim Education’ post, then come back and read this response. I will quote some of lwtc247’s comment here, but for brevity not all of it.

lwtc247: You misunderstood what was meant by “They can’t escape who they are”. It means they are Muslim no matter where they go; …

I understand they can’t switch their ‘Muslimness’ off, what I was trying to say was – why do they have to be Muslim in the first place? Why can’t children be allowed to grow up without being indoctrinated in any religion. As Dawkins says "why do we have to identify children by their religion?"

Yes I do use the word indoctrination because that’s what I, and many others, see it as. From wikipedia:

Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology. It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned. (emphasis mine)

The emphasis is the main difference, between religious instruction (as lwtc247 calls it) and religious indoctrination. Teaching people religion, covering all forms of religion, in a historical, philosophical manner can be called religious instruction or education. However forcing (not the best word, but you get my point) children, to pray, wear specific clothing, disallow them from socialising with the opposite sex, and the hundreds of other rituals, dogmas and ideologies (which have no basis in reality) is indoctrination. Calling it anything else is just using "weasel words".

As the wikipedia entry goes on to say:

Most religious groups instruct new members in the principles of the religion; this is usually not referred to as indoctrination, because of the negative connotations the word has acquired.

"usually not referred to", mostly by the same religious people doing it, strange that!

lwtc247: I think your wider point is about apostasy. Yes, many Muslims look very dimly on apostates, …

Apostasy in any form is just plain wrong, from killing people because they are apostates to just shunning them (all of which occur in all religions to some extent somewhere in the world). I acquaint it as a form of racism, "because they aren’t like me I will shun or punish them". How is that a reasonable thing to do, how can anyone justify it?

lwtc247 then goes on to discuss the penalty for treason, amongst other things, and questions if the punishment is the death penalty. lwtc247 quite rightly points out the complicit nature of Australia assisting in providing evidence they knew "would contribute towards the proclamation of the death penalty for suspects in Indonesia." I agree that this is quite a grey area, in which we denounce the death penalty at home but aid in someone getting the death penalty in another country. I’m open to suggestions here.

As far as the death penalty for treason, that possibly still exists in the UK, however it doesn’t mean it justifies people being killed just because they don’t follow the same religion! In Australia the punishment for treason is life imprisonment.

lwtc247 then asks for my personal opinion: What’s your personal view on the death penalty, … What if someone tortured then murdered members of your family? Would you not wish reciprocation?

Personally I don’t agree with the death penalty, sure, if someone close to me was tortured and murdered I would probably wish to do the same to them. BUT that doesn’t mean I would do it, or that the government or legal system should do it for me. Again there’s a vast difference between blowing innocent people up and leaving your religion! Either way the death penalty is not my choice of punishment.

lwtc247 then gets back to the topic of the original post, but first throws this line in: It seems you really dislike religion (inc Islam), Yes which is your choice, Correct but your dislike of it makes you jump to rather hasty conclusions. Disagree (my answers in red, non-italic)

lwtc247 tries a little math to show that the school is actually subsidising the government.

Epic Fail. I’ve heard this excuse hundreds of times, usually along the lines ‘if the private schools ceased to exist the government would have to pay for the whole lot and wouldn’t be able to afford it’, But that’s never going to happen because the private schools (vast majority of which are religious schools) will still want to exist. So what ever happened to "user pays"? If you want your child to go to a non-government school then you should be prepared to pay for the whole thing yourself. I’m happy for my taxes to pay for schooling, just not happy for it to be paying for segregated religious schooling.

lwtc247: I can imagine why Muslim parents may not be so happy about it because, rightly or wrongly, they feel the secular life will mean their kids are exposed to things which put them in conflict with Islam and hence they seek avoidance of that possibility.

Same could be said about any religious school. Though it shows a huge measure of insecurity that they would be worried about their children being exposed to things that conflict with their faith. Is their faith that flimsy? Anyway what’s the problem with children realising their faith is wrong? There are thousands of different faiths on this planet, who’s to say which one is right? Perhaps none of them are, have you ever considered that? Have these children been able to consider this?

lwtc247: You claim to reject dogma, but seem to have accepted it as you give no reason why you agree with the Secular Party of Australia’s statement on integration.

I do reject dogma, particularly religious dogma, and I don’t see how putting a quote from the SPA demonstrates I am accepting their dogma. The SPA quote was simply a question asking how the school could justify segregation. A question I considered myself but I thought John’s wording was more eloquent. Nothing more nothing less. I can even agree with some things some religious people say (ie lwtc247’s question on Australia’s involvement leading to a death penalty) this doesn’t mean I’m going to follow any of their dogmas.

lwtc247 then asks what seems like a valid question: If Muslims should integrate and show tolerance and respect for secular and atheist views, why cant atheists and religious secularists accept Muslim opinions with regards to their faith too?

There are quite a few reasons why, I’ll only cover a few, I hope other readers will fill in the rest. This goes for all religions not just Muslim: 1) There is no evidence for what you believe in. 2) Things said and done in the name of your religion are divisive and dangerous. 3) Religious practices negatively impact on the wider community. 4) It costs me money.

If you are asking if I should "respect" your religion, then I suggest you read this article. (only because it saves me the time typing out my own similar views, not because I’m following someone else’s dogma)

lwtc247 trots out the old "we’re not all mad" line: Please don’t underestimate the tolerance Muslims show for non-Muslim religious secular and atheistic practices conducted not just in Oz, but across the globe.

Obviously lwtc247 didn’t watch Foreign Correspondent the other night!

lwtc247: There are reportedly over a billion Muslims world wide and the vast majority live in relative peace with their neighbours. People just want to get on in life and be happy with with their fellow man and surroundings.

I tend to agree with these statements particularly the second one. My only concern has been put much better by others than I could ever do. Tolerant religionists indirectly support the radical religionists. Marcus Brigstocke puts it rather well.

Without the audience to prop it up … fundamentalist religious fanaticism goes away.

I highly recommend all my readers to watch Marcus’ video (about 7 minutes) he argues a few of these questions and my points very well.

Finally I’d like to say that I will make an effort to watch the video lwtc247 recommended. I would also like to point out that lwtc247 you are probably wrong when you state: It’s the kind of information you’re not usually invited to see in secular or areligious indoctrination.

Many religious people would be surprised how much religious material atheists devour. The thing is unless you have both sides of the story it’s more difficult to make an argument against it. I have recently been concentrating on reading secular and atheist literature, but have also read more of the bible than I did even when I did bible study many years ago. I’ve read some portions of the Quran and frequent a few religious blogs to get their side of the story. I watch both religious and non-religious documentaries, in fact I’ve probably watched more religious documentaries than non-religious ones. I will be happy to watch "An Islamic History of Europe", apart from the religious aspect of it, I find history interesting anyway.

Finally I don’t know how you can use "secular or areligious" and "indoctrination" in the same sentence. As I have already pointed out, the difference is; in the religious community you are not expected  "to question or critically examine". On the other hand in the atheist, skeptical and secular community questioning and critically examining is de-rigueur, it’s expected. 

I’m sure I will get "called on" with some of the things I say, that’s one of the interesting things about writing this blog. If I say something I have to be willing to defend what I’ve said, or if proved wrong be willing to accept the new fact(s). I endeavour to do both to the best of my abilities. Occasionally we may just have to agree to disagree.

Anyone is free to leave comments here, and I welcome all points of view, as long as they are mostly on-topic and not outright defamatory. As often as possible I will reply to those comments; though not always this in-depth. 🙂

Cheers

Oz

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