Thursday, September 21, 2006


The school saga continues…

Only this time it's not the primary school (you know, the one I've been tussling with since I started this blog). This time it's the secondary school my son started at at the beginning of this month.

Don't get me wrong, we're thrilled that he got in (there's no guarantee these days that your kids will get a place at any school, 'specially round our way), and thrilled with the way the school staff are handling his, er… quirks (he's just been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome). As usual, my concern is with the way they seem to be teaching RE.

To be fair, it's not anything that Max has come home with that has troubled me. His RE homework so far has consisted of covering his exercise book and filling in a questionnaire about his likes and dislikes. His mate, however, was sent home with the instruction to 'write down 10 religious things about me', much to his parents' chagrin.

Is it just me, or is the way that question is worded just a little on the presumptious side? Maybe it doesn't take for granted that the child in question is from a religious family, but I've been mulling it over for a good few days now and I'm damned if I can figure out another way to take it.

I know I'm not known for my calm, measured response to this sort of thing, but really, am I mad? There was me thinking that the RE syllabus would be a little more inclusive in secondary school, a little less focused on the baby Jesus and all that other nonsense, maybe a little more mindful of the fact that there are people out there (quite a few of us, actually) who are bringing their children up to be good people without recourse to dusty old works of fiction written thousands of years ago. I was even, foolish optimist that I am, hoping that in the secondary school environment my son would be able to talk openly about his godless upbringing without feeling like he's drawing a target on his back.

Guess he'll just have to dream up some interesting religious things about himself, if and when the homework comes.

Meanwhile, I can feel a tussle coming on.

No! You're not mad at all. (Or if you are, we both are!)

There is a blatant and apparently intentional presumption in the challenge to name "10 religious things" about you.

I would explain to the school that whatever good (or bad!) things some people might associate with religion, not everyone does. Perhaps you could suggest that instead he list 10 virtues of secular humanism? Or perhaps he can just list 10 things that are often closely associated with religion, but include things like "narrowness" and "offence" and "bigotry". Everyone's a bit narrow, offended, or bigotted sometimes, so technically he'd be answering the question.

But anyway -- yes -- do protest if this task is set. It is clearly biassed and intentionally so.
Well, he is a teenage boy, so I daresay 'persecution' (by you and his dad!) might feature on the list...
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