Valuing religious education

13th February 1998 at 00:00
Why do so many things in education seem to have to be so naively black or white? William Robb ("Values bid to replace RE classes", TESS, February 6) suggests that RE, among other things, should be scrapped in favour of values education. Chief among his arguments seems to be that its removal would soften the blow of RE on teachers who find themselves "uneasy" about delivering it in the classroom. We really are on a slippery slope when we start removing subjects because teachers feel uneasy about them. Next stop burning books which make us "uneasy"?

Values education is part of a whole school's ethos - all teachers "teach" morals, either explicitly or implicitly, and values are part of every subject in all sectors of education. RE teachers in the secondary school have developed a fair degree of expertise in the area, and have the time to consider values more explicitly than anywhere else. As for the primary school, RE provides as good a vehicle for the discussion of ethics as do many other subjects. That RE perhaps raises some of the more uncomfortable questions of morality is a benefit - not something we should shirk from because it makes us feel uneasy.

Importantly, there is no such thing as "value-free values education", which is, I suspect, what Mr Robb's aim ultimately is. To introduce yet another subject into the already crowded curriculum won't help.


Teacher of religious studies Kirkfield View, Livingston Village West Lothian

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