Tagged: Education

This is a clash of civilisations, between reason and superstition – Humanist Polly Toynbee in the Guardian

Just as the NUT campaigns against faith schools and a Government adviser is arrested over the honours for City Academy sponsors scandal, Polly Toynbee writes "If ever there was a time to set out the unequivocal value of a secular state, it must be now."

Link: Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | This is a clash of civilisations – between reason and superstition

Meanwhile, back in cloud cuckoo land, Peter Franklin’s Guardian comment is all about "secular supremacists" and education. Feel free to let him know the folly of his argument.

Faith schools – take action today!

A message from Andrew Copson of the BHA – email your MP about faith schools.

The Government’s current Education and Inspections Bill will inevitably lead to a proliferation of ‘faith’ schools and city academies controlled by religious interest groups. Polls show from 64% to 96% of the UK is against this policy. Why then, do most MPs continue to ignore this issue? We need to convince them that opposition to the creeping gift of our education system to religious interests is genuinely and widely held in their constituencies.

The BHA has set up a special online service to allow supporters to email their MP directly with a standard letter on the Education Bill, sign an online petition against faith schools and religious academies, and vote in our online poll. You can find the site at http://tinyurl.com/esp27. If you would prefer to send a more tailored message to your MP, or write to them by post, please do still take a look at our campaign site above, but we have also provided some notes for letter writers at http://tinyurl.com/pqdaz.

Please take action today (emailing your MP from the BHA site only takes a minute), and pass on this message to anyone else you think will be willing to join us in this campaign.

Andrew Copson
British Humanist Association

Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Rebecca Smithers, Guardian education editor
Friday April 7, 2006

“Teachers are to call for an end to state funding for faith schools in an attempt to halt the growing influence of religious organisations in education and end the controversial teaching of creationism. Britain’s biggest teaching union, the National Union of Teachers, warned yesterday that religious fundamentalists were gaining control of state schools – predominantly through the government’s city academy programme – and some private businesses had too much influence over the curriculum.”

Link: EducationGuardian.co.uk | News crumb | Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Suffolk’s new RE syllabus ready for approval

Suffolk County Council’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) met on Friday 31st March to put the finishing touches to the new Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Suffolk. It will be presented to the county council’s cabinet for approval on 6th June.

Humanist SACRE representative Margaret Nelson reports that Humanism will be included in the syllabus, as recommended by the Qualifications & Curriculum Authority’s 2004 non-statutory national framework for RE. Her suggestions regarding the Suffolk syllabus were incorporated in the final draft, such as ensuring that ‘Humanism’ is spelt with a capital letter throughout – it might seem a trivial issue, but signifies that Humanism is a life stance, like Christianity, Hinduism, and the other religions.

We’re all monkeys

ChimpanzeeThe battle for hearts and minds between creationism and Darwinian evolution theory goes on and on. And on.

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution offers an explanation for the development of modern man, and all life on Earth, over millions of years, by a process of natural selection and mutation. Creationism suggests that, essentially, the world and everything therein was created in between six days and ten thousand years, by God.

Scientists, academics and clerics are all getting involved in the argument as to which is the definitive explanation for the development of life on Earth. The argument is raging on as it has been for years, and it looks like it shows no sign of slowing.

What are the basics of Darwinian evolution theory? What are the creationists’ main arguments, and why is creationism dangerous?

Why?

Socrates

Those who know me probably won’t be surprised to hear that I used to get into trouble at school, not because I was a juvenile delinquent, but for asking so many questions – too many, as far as some of my teachers were concerned. They expected us to absorb all the facts, dates, grammar and maths they taught us, and not to spend too much time questioning where all of these things came from, and what they were for, and whether they were likely to be any use to us. Questions like that tended to hold things up, so that my class might be in danger of failing to cover the whole of a carefully planned syllabus, and risk failing an exam. I’m sure that some of my teachers regarded me as a confounded nuisance.

I’ve changed my mind

Apparently Baroness Mary Warnock has been attacked by Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips for changing her mind. Baroness Warnock, now 81, has had a distinguished career as a head teacher, academic, moral philosopher, and public servant. Melanie Phillips is most well-known for expressing her opinions in various newspapers.

What’s most upset Ms Phillips is that Baroness Warnock has modified her views about the integration of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Mary Warnock strongly influenced this education policy in the early 1980s, but has now written that the policy needs to be reviewed. This is fair enough – the idea of educating children all together, to overcome prejudice and isolation, seemed good at the time. The problem was that, if it was to work, it needed smaller class sizes, and, in an ideal world, children who knew how to behave themselves. As most people know, bullying is a serious problem in some schools, and special needs children are often the victims.