Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Religious Education aka "I'm still listening over here!!!!"

My first draft of a letter I'm sending to our Primary School with respect to their Religious Education program.
(State School, non-religious)

Our child is not a participant, but she occasionally says things which could only have been overheard during these classes, because she sits on the side of the same room while the class is on.

I won't get into my views on religion or I'll fill up the internet, but I have objections to the RE course at school.

I wish to put forward my concerns with respect to the Religious Education at our school.

As a parent whose child does not participate in the program, I am currently unsatisfied with several consequences of this non-participation.

Firstly, the students who are not participating in the program remain in the same classroom as those who do participate. Whilst I understand that there may be some concerns as to the social aspects of sending the students taking the course away, or even the students not involved being sent elsewhere, it does kind of defeat the purpose of my choosing to not have my child take the course if they are still listening to it on the side of the room.

Secondly, and it is directly connected to the first point, if the children not involved in RE are unable to “learn” during the period in which the RE course is being given, but are still in the same room, they are essentially wasting that time.

I understand that they have suitable supervision from the class teacher, and are given opportunities to read or use the computer, but children are inquisitive, and if 20 of their class mates are listening to someone in the room, they are less likely to concentrate on their own thing when in the same room.

Thirdly, while I know that it is up to the individual, I believe the ‘opt-in’ aspect of Religious Instruction is not as clear as it ought to be. I clearly don’t talk to as many parents as a lot of other people, but I do talk to them about this very topic, and not just parents from our Primary School.

RE is opt-in, much like an after school sports class or music group is opt-in, and these are clearly separated, both in their venue and their fee collection. In my opinion, Including the RE fee collection on the School Fees form lends tacit support of the program, especially if the non-compulsory nature of the program is not very clearly stated.

This is not a gripe about Religious Education at our schools. That is an entirely different area of disagreement.
This is a gripe about the unsatisfactory conditions in place to ensure that those students who are not involved in the program are not passive absorbers.

Thank you for your consideration of this issue and I look forward to your feedback.

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