Religious Instruction

  (25 September 09)
  by Greg Spearritt

A good number of children in Australian state schools spend half an hour each week in exile from the classroom because their parents can’t abide the thought of them being subjected to the naively-realist conservative religious propaganda that the Religious Instruction program serves up.


The Talking Squid backs up my own experiences as a parent and a teacher concerning the materials that are used (often emanating from Sydney Anglican Diocese). I’d add to that the selection (usually self-selection) of people who deliver the program: enthusiastic, usually well-meaning people of faith with little or no theological education who take this state-sanctioned opportunity to promote biblical literalism and pump sacrificial atonement theory into the kids for all they’re worth.


At least the Queensland Education system has had the grace to switch back to calling the program “RI”: at one stage it was known as Religious Education, which in 99% of cases it most certainly was not.


An alternative that encourages children to explore issues ethically without the baggage of uncritical, conservative religion makes a lot of sense: but not, apparently, to the NSW State Government’s religious education advisory panel.


A good place to start would be with the work of Professor Phillip Cam, renowned for bringing quality philosophy programs into primary schools. (There’s an example on You-Tube of Cam’s work.)




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