Over the weekend there was a report published, that was commissioned by The Religious Education Council, in to the teaching of RE in schools; and in short in said that most schools were not doing too well at teaching the children about it. 

Now this got me thinking, now my view on the whole thing is that religion should be a private thing and if you wish to believe in any religion and its associated deities then that should be something you do in your home and/or place of worship.  Not something that the tax payer should be picking up the tab for to teach children about.

Now this would leave you with a gap in the school curriculum, and it then raises a question about well what could you fill that gap with? More English, Maths, Science, History or so on.  But to me filling that gap with something they already do well seems a tad lazy and lacklustre.

So I had a bit of a think about it, and was thinking what would be beneficial to school children that we could fill up that gap in the timetable with.  Now two things sprung to mind immediately one was home economics; we teach the kids how to cook properly and healthily.  Which gives them an invaluable skill when they leave school as they know how to turn a pile of fresh produce in to a healthy, tasty meal. 

But there was also another thing that would be handy, as these children are going to be the business men and women of the future and dealing with people from other nations, and one skill that we all lack is a general understanding of what people from Germany, Japan, China, Canada all like and enjoy.  So we could make a cultural anthropology lesson to fill the place left by RE. 

But then it dawned on me, we could combine the two.  We could educate the children about the cultures of other nations and teach them how to cook food from those nations.  That way we are equipping the children with two useful skills instead of teaching them RE.

Now obviously something like this would require a change in the law for it to be implemented, and would probably face some vehement opposition from some quarters of society.  But I think if explained to the public correctly, then there would be overwhelming public support for such a change.  As you have to ask yourself what’s more important knowing something from a religious text or being able to cook properly for yourself?

For me it’s a no brainer, let the religious bodies teach about their religion in their places of worship and use that time to teach children useful skills that can help them in life. 

 


Mike A R Powell
07/10/2013 1:39am

I agree with Jane McQueen that the current environment in UK schools is such that Religious Education is best provided in a completely different setting. Only in the relevant churches (or other places of worship) will the subject be treated with the appropriate expertise and respect. Only in the privacy and security of most people's homes will they be free to worship in whatever way seems right to them.

Before the political classes altered the face of this country by a creeping and engineered multiculturalism, Britain was regarded as Christian and the population mostly attended church on Sundays. It made sense for schools to support Christian values with 'Scripture' lessons, a Nativity play every Christmas with celebrations of Easter and Whitsuntide etc. Times have changed and presently the UK is not only multicultural but also increasingly atheist and morally liberal.

What we are left with is a dishonest and insincere compromise and a wholesale non-compliance of the law (hinted at in recent OFSTED findings on RE teaching). RE has been hijacked by professionals with a multiculturalist agenda who have found themselves supporting a 'pick 'n mix' of religions from all parts of the world. The result is RE taught by teachers with poor understanding of those religions or even hostility towards them. RE is now just another vehicle for this creeping multiculturalism.

I therefore reluctantly agree that, at this time, we should remove RE from the school curriculum and use the time elsewhere. Cookery is indeed a better alternative to the charade that is RE in modern Britain.

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07/10/2013 2:18am

While strongly backing the need to improve skills pertaining to home economics and to help children to value healthy eating and lifestyles I must disagree with what I consider to be Jane's simplistic conclusion.
While there is much confusion in the world of RE and much mediocrity in its teaching, what could be more important than to encourage children to ask the big questions? Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?
And any honest treatment of cultural anthroloplogy is inextricably linked with some understanding of the religious heritage of a particular culture. RE ought therefore to take cover that.

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Mike A R Powell
07/10/2013 5:25am

As a science teacher in UK schools for over 20 years I always encouraged such questions to be asked and we shared both opinions and known facts.

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