Season of eggs and bonnets;Leading Article;Opinion

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
SCHOOLS WHERE December is little more than a preparation for Christmas do not have the same devotion to the other great festival in the Christian calendar. In some schools, mostly Catholic, the Lenten season of self-denial is observed, but they are a minority. Now that the Church of Scotland is formally recognising the impossibility of making school education Christian, the meaning of Easter passes largely unexamined.

The contrast with Christmas, however, owes nothing to a perceived difference in religious significance. It is the material aspects of Christmas that absorb pupils and, by extension, their teachers. The expectation and mystery surrounding the primary and nursery ritual of nativity plays have more to do with anticipating Santa Claus than the Saviour. By contrast, painting Easter eggs and rolling them down a hill are, so to speak, small beer.

Television advertising, the bane of hard-pressed parents before Christmas, cannot make much of Christ's death, spring bonnets notwithstanding. But the comparative absence of the materialism for which Christmas is so often condemned does not make for a unadulterated view of Easter. Instead, most children ignore altogether the messages of crucifixion and resurrection. Mother's Day, when you are expected to hand over a present, has more significance.

The religious education curriculum (and, it appears, the Church of Scotland) makes little distinction between Easter and Eid. Each is a cultural festival. Neither deserves more than a nod in its direction. Ours is a well-intentioned but secular society. It is not the role of teachers to mount a lone challenge.

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