A sermon everyone can do without

20th June 2008 at 01:00
Does anyone know who was responsible for producing the draft experiences and outcomes in religious and moral education as part of A Curriculum for Excellence? Mind you, it would probably be best if they kept shtoom, as it is hugely disappointing
Does anyone know who was responsible for producing the draft experiences and outcomes in religious and moral education as part of A Curriculum for Excellence? Mind you, it would probably be best if they kept shtoom, as it is hugely disappointing.

Take the introduction to the cover paper. The statements are archaic and contradictory. We read that "many branches of the Christian faith are represented throughout the land". Throughout the land! Sounds like terminology straight from a pulpit. What about "Scotland's diversity serves as an inspiring and thought-provoking background for Scotland's children and young people in the development of their beliefs and values"?

The problem is that Scotland's diversity is only paid lip service in the documentation. Christianity is still given the top slot, with the agenda (not hidden) being that kids become good Christians. Combine this with the HMIE obsession that schools should engage with religious observance and you have an ongoing recipe for the intolerance and prejudice the document claims to be tackling.

Too many schools wheel in deadly boring and out-of-touch chaplains to peddle the fares of various patriarchal branches of Christianity. This does not inspire, and certainly does not enable pupils to think philosophically. Come to mention it, where is the word THINKING in all of this. I can't find it anywhere. Over and over again, I read phrases such as "I am developing" or "I can explain" or "I am able to apply". The intense focus on Christianity is a licence to indoctrinate and emasculate the capacity of young people to engage in challenging perceived wisdom and journeying to find their own beliefs. It legislates against thinking.

The retention of the titles from 5-14, such as Christianity and Other World Faiths, perpetuates the ill-conceived notion that Christianity is top dog in a pantheon (pardon the expression) of belief systems. You can be taught about other faiths but Christianity will always be the creme de la creme.

If we want to celebrate Scotland's diversity, why are we not encouraged to look at its pre-Christian traditions; what about the ancient Celts? Would the writers of these recent documents encourage teachers to examine paganism and atheism, for instance?

I read with wry amusement, too, that children will take a learning journey which begins with awe and wonder and ends with consideration of ultimate questions relating to meaning, value and purpose in life. Enlighten me as to what is meant by awe and wonder, and how will we assess it?

What alarms me is the facile statement that "through investigating Christian responses to issues of morality, I can discuss ways in which to create a more just, equal, compassionate and tolerant society". Really? Are we talking about the same religion? Some Christians condemn gay people, undermine the rights of women, sentence the followers of other faiths to eternal damnation - and we are nevertheless expected to continue to promote such a faith.

I can't see how this fits with ACfE. Who was involved in writing this document? We should be told.

Marj Adams teaches religious studies, philosophy and psychology at Forres Academy.

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