Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The whole point of Catholic Schools

Schools are set to receive guidelines on how to run religious education and ceremonies, paving the way for pupils to get out of any religious activity. A working copy reveals schools could tell the Human Rights Commission that forcing children to take part in religious ceremonies or classes may breach their rights.

Of course journalists had to ask the Catholic Church what it thought. The Catholic Bishop of Palmerston North claims the whole point of a Catholic school is to teach the Catholic faith. If that was the case, it would not get state funding and the schools would be run by nuns who do not need teaching qualifications, not qualified non-Catholic teachers. (Also any sex education would probably be substandard). The Bishop should spend a day at a Catholic school, as the point of a Catholic school is no different to any other school that teaches kids to spell, read and write. The difference is its distinctive character.

Although I am not a Catholic, my kids go to a Catholic school. If I knew that it gave them religious instruction all day and they had to recite chunks of the Catechism they wouldn't be going there because, like most parents, I send my kids to school to get instruction on how to read, write and spell - and to have the opportunity to make more friends and learn social etiquette. Any faith issues are an add-on. All they do is have a short story from a kid's bible at the beginning of the day, a quick prayer, and a few stories and art work here and there. That does not breach the Bill of Rights Act, given that parents choose to send their kids there knowing such things happen. Teachers don't have to subscribe to the faith to teach at a Catholic school, although it certainly helps if they are sympathetic to it. If kids don't like a few bible stories, prayers and art work they can either go to school 10 minutes late or attend another school. Perhaps the bible readings are twice as long and they light more candles for longer if the Bishop turns up?

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Blogger ZenTiger said...

One day (if not now) Catholic Schools will be like every other school, and therefore have no special character.

Catholic Schools could be much better at teaching the Catholic faith, without sacrificing the standard educational fare.

There's much more depth to the Catholic faith than what many people realise (including far too many Catholics), and given it isn't taught to any significant degree by schools, it's no surprise people don't understand the finer points. A great pity.

January 15, 2009 at 4:30 PM  

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