Monday, 8 September 2008

Faith schools are great, says Madeleine Bunting

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In today's Guardian, Madeleine Bunting holds forth on the merits of faith schools in her column "Faith schools can best generate the common purpose that pupils need", saying we should all support them because they get good results and an ethos "motivated around high aspirations, mutual respect and self-discipline". They have this ethos because "they can fall back on a well-known, religious narrative to which there is still considerable adherence in some form."

And why is there "considerable adherence"? Because "As the last census showed, over 70% of people in this country still describe themselves as Christian; that may not mean going to church but it may mean wanting children to grow up with broadly Christian values. For a faith school, the common values are familiar to all and easy to explain, and therein lies the possibility of a strong ethos."

While non-religious schools can achieve this, Bunting says it is harder because "Secular humanism has not found a popular ethical narrative to replace faith; parents, uncertain how to bring up their children with a sense of responsibility for others, resort to school Christianity."

Of course, Bunting's piece has attracted large numbers of online comments (142 at the time of writing). Go on, you know you want to get involved.

In partnership with religious groups, trade unions and human rights campaigners, the British Humanist Association has just launched the Accord Coalition, "calling for inclusive schools and an end to special arrangements for state funded religious schools." You can register your support for Accord by visiting the website.

4 comments:

Bob said...

I found the comment which in effect branded all faith school critics "Islamophobic" most distasteful (critics of faith schools are "newly emboldened with a fashionable fear of Islam", apparently.)

Also - what's the deal with basically admitting (finally!) that there is a social selectionism in faith schools which makes them "middle class", while at the same time defending the idea that it's some kind of faithy magic which gives them a better "ethos"?

It's not old stories devoid of cogency which gives faith schools mildly better results, it's better-off parents; well-known to correlate with better results.

And the value-added figures say it all. Faith schools don't do anything better with the pupils they have, they just tend to have better off pupils.

Having admitted that social selection takes place, Bunting must now know this. But she is committed to her course, of course.

Rob Hughes said...

The power of Christianity is such that, apart from drawing people into a living relationship with their Creator, it also has the power to transform society through its well rooted ethical values. Children today brought up in a humanistic culture are displaying the fruit of their education, namely that they are worryingly lacking in terms of morals and ethical principles. Society is becoming decadent because of humanism.

Wotnogod? said...

"Well rooted ethical values?" I hope you're joking Rob Hughes?

Is this the same Christianity whose Bible openly advocates murder, genocide, infanticide, slavery, etc

Of course not, you're simply cherry-picking what any intrinsically moral person could do also.

Poorly behaved children are poorly behaved because of a number of socio-economic reasons - not because of Humanism.

As for Faith Schools - have we learned nothing from the Catholic / Protestant schools in Northern Ireland, or the Maddrassas in Pakistan?

Rob, you're talking crap, mate.

Rob Hughes said...

Wotnogod?,

Hmmm, I'm quessing the reason you were so cocky in your answer is because you think Christians have no answers... Not quite matey.

Secular humanists have been responsible for more atrocities than those who are religious. Hitler, Stalin, Pol pot, Lenin, to name but a few.

The Bible does not advocate murder, or slavery, or genocide, or infanticide. What Bible have you been reading???

Of course not, you're simply cherry-picking what any intrinsically moral person could do also.

Um, sorry, there is not a single intrinsically moral person on the planet.

Perhaps you think you are intrinsically. Perhaps you think you are a good person. Have you ever told a lie before? What would that make you? It would make you a liar. Ever stolen before? What would that make you? It would make you a thief. So you would be a lying thief. Uh, not so good then. And yes, I have lied too. Like the Bible says, "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God."

It is a fact that society today is in moral decline because there are a lack of values being taught. Teenagers especially have no boundaries because boundaries have been removed. Let me ask you a question. Who determines what's right? Do I? Do you? The Bible says that when God's word is ignored everyone will do what is right in their own eyes. Newsflash. That is England today.

As for Faith Schools - have we learned nothing from the Catholic / Protestant schools in Northern Ireland, or the Maddrassas in Pakistan?

Do some research. The Bible is the only book on the planet that says you should love your neighbour as yourself and that you should love your enemy. If groups of people wear the name "Christian" but do not do what the Bible says then they are not Christians.

Looks like you need to reevaluate your claims, mate.