An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

'The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education'-Einstein

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is planning to introduce an Engllish Baccalaureate system under which Religious Education (RE) will not be incorporated in the subjects to be tested on. The chosen subjects will be: English, Maths, Science; Foreign Language; and either History or Geography. Religious advocates of RE will be lobbying the Minister for a change of mind. Allegedly, the role of RE in our current school system is already being downgraded ahead of the change with teachers being moved from teaching RE to History and Geography as the preferred humanities options for the Baccalaureate.
Education is mightily important. However,education should not only encompass the traditionally thought of 'hard subjects' such as Maths, English etc. To do so immediately requires a counter production of what is thought to be 'soft subjects' and RE falls under this heading. Going to school is a learning experience. It ought to teach one to engage in productive thinking and debate, to learn the link between past and present and allow one to become a responsible and thoughtful member of society. Education helps to instil moral values in the learner too. At a time when our society's social fabric seems to be frayed schools ought to be enabled to do far more to produce healthy citizens of today and tomorrow.
RE is a multi-dimensional field of study. I will use a personal anecdote to illustrate this point. My daughter is only in Year 7 but I am hugely impressed by what she is doing already. In a short space of time she has drawn up a timeline of the Jewish migrations right up to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This single lesson has taught her about the Holocaust, the reason for the hostilities between the Muslim states and Israel and of Judaism itself. Out of this she has been introduced to history, religious beliefs and state warfare. She was also tasked with drawing up the differences between the Christian faith and Judaism. She has learnt how to compare and contrast, explain differences based on the bible's timeline-history and is able to read the bible with more understanding as a result. She is looking forward to learning about Hinduism, Islam and Sikihism.
However, RE isn't just about teaching religion. At macrolevel RE teaches multi-faith tolerance, values, morals and explains behaviours and practices of religious groups using the methods of philosophy, sacred texts and anthropology. Consider the interplay between social and political issues such as gay rights, marriage, cloning and female rights and religion. RE actually offers the ways and means to understand some of this better.

On Saturday we will have the English Defence League marching in Luton against Islam. For the last week the Western world has been worrying about the takeover of the currently moderate Muslim countries by fundamentalism. Christians are being killed globally. Religion is being used as a powerful weapon for hatred and strife. We in a democratic multi-faith society have a powerful way of helping to reverse some of this by teaching multi-faith religions and tolerance to young minds. 


  1. Greetings from Southern California, USA

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  2. Dear Ron,
    Thank you for visiting and for following this blog. I have added myself to yours too. I think your blog is funny and witty.
    God's Grace