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Old 15.08.2011, 12:54
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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No, I mean it. What if there exists none, wherever. Where would children of atheist parents learn to understand those who are religious?
We're talking about two completely different things here:

  • Religion as belief, which, in my opinion, has no place in schools* as school teachers aren't, by and large, fit to teach it; and
  • Religion as a historical and cultural object, which might have a place in schools, except that it would be difficult to teach properly without offending anybody (and which also raises the question of who sets the curriculum?)
*except dedicated church schools, of course, where the teachers are appropriately supervised.
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Old 15.08.2011, 12:55
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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There's an interesting article in 20 Minuten about discontinuing religion lessons in public schools or replacing it as a philosophy instead.

In the poll, most people felt religion lessons are outdated and many people felt it should be taught at home. Some people thought religion could be offered as an after-school course and others felt religion is still necessary for moral purposes.

If religion were discontinued at school, shouldn't Catholic / Protestant public holidays be abolished as well?

If it were left to the parents to teach their children religion, would Switzerland become a religious desert with churches having only a historical purpose or would it lean even more to the right as seen in the USA?

Personally, I like the way it is but realize for many parents, religion is a thorny issue.

Thoughts?

http://www.20min.ch/news/schweiz/sto...aess--18977762

I am wondering how the kids who opt out of christian studies should pass German at the Matura, if they won't be able to do literature interpretations due to lack of knowledge of the bible?
Absolute nonsense.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:07
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

Again, please note that there is NO Swiss System of teaching religious education (or indeed paying Church taxes) - as for most things the C/Kanton decides. Some Swiss C/Kantons are still very Catholic- and some Protestant. Some like Neuchatel were definitely Protestant until the 50s - but then wave after wave of immigration from Catholic countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal and now perhaps Poland) mean that the balance is almost 50/50.

In most areas, religion is not taught as part of the curriculum but the local Vicar or Priest will come to the school to teach their own brand of religion to the local children. Children whose parents object or have a different religion, or none, then do not attend as it is over and above normal education. In La Chaux-de-Fonds where there was a big Jewish community, the Rabbi also took a class.

Very different to the UK way of teaching 'about' religion, looking at history, major prophets and festivals and how different religions treat themes like death, birth- and issues like euthanasia or abortion, etc. Much prefer this way, as it means all kids get to know about each other's religion, and hopefully tolerance and respect. Two things I'd criticise about the UK system as I saw it operate in the 4 schools I taught at and the ones my daughters attended- it that secularism, humanism were seen as absence of religion and therefore of moral framework. And that all the RE teachers I've ever know have been fundamentalist Christians who pushed the latter.

Last edited by Odile; 15.08.2011 at 13:21.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:08
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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  • Religion as a historical and cultural object, which might have a place in schools, except that it would be difficult to teach properly without offending anybody (and which also raises the question of who sets the curriculum?)
*except dedicated church schools, of course, where the teachers are appropriately supervised.
And why would it be offensive? Children are highly unlikely to get offended by religious topics, especially if taught about facts, and not interpretations. Being easily offended is an adult domain.
I don't see how they would weight their relationships with other children based on dry knowledge, still, there should also room for some open discussions in the class room. That could go a long way towards understanding and tolerance for those of other beliefs. Conflicts come from lack of understanding, no?
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:09
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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And why would it be offensive?
Because religion, when done properly, is offensive.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:12
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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No, I mean it. What if there exists none, wherever. Where would children of atheist parents learn to understand those who are religious? They should at least be taught ethics (make this a free choice if you prefer - ethics/protestant/muslim/jewish etc; but it should be obligatory). Knowing and understanding religion is just too critical in today's society
I think that the problem would be how to design a course that is able, for example, to simultaneously satisfy the wants of the atheist parent looking to provide a basic understanding of religion to his/her child along with the Christian (or Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, etc.) parent seeking the same for his/her child regarding other religions or ways of thinking. Someone's parent is always going to see bias or find disagreement with what is being taught, no matter how basic and benign the concepts presented. I believe it to be easier to let the religious training/teaching take place in church.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:16
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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Because religion, when done properly, is offensive.
This is a problem of yesteryear methods. The point is to teach children NOT to be offended by alternative religions.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:20
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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This is a problem of yesteryear methods. The point is to teach children NOT to be offended by alternative religions.
If one does that, then one is dealing with religion at the most superficial level. Religion is offensive. If it isn't offensive, then it isn't religion.

To teach religion as "that quaint thing those chaps in the funny hats do" is to reduce it to a meaningless freak show. If we're going to do that, we might as well not bother at all.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:20
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

Since about all who have been perhaps qualified to teach religion have been murdered, where are you going to find teachers?
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:23
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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This is a problem of yesteryear methods. The point is to teach children NOT to be offended by alternative religions.
The children would most likely not be offended. It is their parents who might be when they realized that their child was being taught (or NOT taught, whatever the case) the idea that all religions or ways of thinking hold equal merit.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:34
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

In our local school you could opt out of religon class. But the classes were supposed to be non denominational but were actually bible classes, not about other world religions or beliefs and taught in Swiss dialect. My kid wanted to go so we let him but he couldn't understand a word.
The local churches offered catechism or whatever was appropriate for their church outside of school hours.
However the morality classes seemed to be in ordinary everyday classes where the teachers made it very plain what they considered to be "sinful". I don't mind kids being taught right from wrong but what constitutes a sin is a different kettle of fish, that's a religious concept not a moral one.
That's when we decided to change schools as we had no option of saying "nein"!
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:41
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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However the morality classes seemed to be in ordinary everyday classes where the teachers made it very plain what they considered to be "sinful". I don't mind kids being taught right from wrong but what constitutes a sin is a different kettle of fish, that's a religious concept not a moral one.
Precisely, and therein lies the difficulty of having 'non-denominational' 'morality' or 'comparative philosophy' classes in school: once you get past the wishy-washy basics of 'share nicely', 'don't be nasty to other people' and 'don't lie to your teachers', the moral or religious bias of the teacher is sure to come out, even if she tries really hard to remain impartial. Children aren't stupid...

Best leave important things like these to those we trust, rather than teachers appointed by the canton or state.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:44
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

I went to a private, Protestant school for my first 3 years of education. I had the friggin' Bible crammed down my throat like it was the bare facts of life. I even remember a "history" being taught to us about the time before Christ. One of my classmates asked, "Where are you getting this from?" And our teacher said, "the Bible."

As a result of the way I was taught Christianity at a very early age, I have always been resentful. That's why when I was old enough I set out on my own search for God, looking for answers to my religious questions with an open mind. I looked EVERYWHERE until I finally found what, for me, was acceptable proof.

I believe that children should learn about religion, but not just about one. They should be presented with all of the information about different belief systems and allowed to form their own conclusions, without influence or bias from what the teacher or the State prefers. Wouldn't this certainly help to increase religious tollerance?

That's my dream anyway. The reality is that, religious bias will always be taught, whether it is at a public school or a religious school, whether it is in Albania, India or Zimbabwe.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:46
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

At one of the schools I taught, the local Methodist Vicar would regularly come and give assembly- on the most important Hindu festivals, and pick part of the Bible to illustrate how wrong the actions and beliefs behind the Festivals were wrong- without ever mentioning them directly. (Like Diwali, Navrati, etc). I felt so uncomfortable about this and now regret not having made a complaint.

I've always had difficulty with religious tolerance, as it's always seemed to me a bit of a contradiction in terms. If you truly, sincerely and totally believe that YOUR God is the only ones that tells and knows the truth, and the future of the world and humanity, and after life, in her/his hands - how can you tolerate other religions which conflict with this? Strangely enough though, those religious people I know who are truly religious, tend to be more tolerant than those who just pay lip service to the religion they were sort of born in and keep going more for cultural than religious reasons.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:47
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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I do NOT want to pay for teachers teaching tolerance through "Intelligent design", and I most certainly don't want my children to be taught by a priest, simply because I don't respect his (maybe I shouldn't generalize, but I am confident this applies to most) pedagogic background and his order of priorities. Above all else I don't want my children brainwashed at such an early age with century-aged conceptions of hell, eternal torture or blind-faith-over-knowledge.
That's not what they teach in christian studies at Swiss schools.

Christian studies are a preparation course to give you the tools to be able to follow the German and history classes.

There is absolutely no way you would have a chance to pass those classes if you hadn't been educated in christian studies.
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Old 15.08.2011, 13:52
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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That's not what they teach in christian studies at Swiss schools.

Christian studies are a preparation course to give you the tools to be able to follow the German and history classes.

There is absolutely no way you would have a chance to pass those classes if you hadn't been educated in christian studies.
Hey, don't let facts interfere with a good ol' religious debate on EF!
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Old 15.08.2011, 14:01
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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  • Religion as a historical and cultural object, which might have a place in schools, except that it would be difficult to teach properly without offending anybody (and which also raises the question of who sets the curriculum?)
I had the same teacher for junior-year World History and senior-year Philosophy in high school. He said that he had met his personal goal if we were unable to determine his personal beliefs at the end of the two year program. He succeeded pretty well.

Religion is an important part of history, whether it is Europe, U.S., Asia or some little town. It, or the forced absence of it, is part of everyday life.

I would miss the Catholic holidays of Luzern, but I think this change will take a long time. It is not only the children in school, but the integration of religion into the tax system and whether or not a company is allowed to be open for business. I much prefer a separation of church and state, but to ignore religion is ignoring a significant part of the local culture and the cultures of others.
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Old 15.08.2011, 14:36
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

Is a tricky one this, but I agree with what most people have written.

You NEED to know about various religions (moreso Christianity in Europe) just because so much literature and art depends on an understanding of the bible. It would be a shame to stop any religious teaching in school, because that would then condemn a generation to be unable to understand Renaissance art for example. Whether we like it or not, Culture and Religion are heavily linked here in Europe, so learning about Religion is pretty mandatory.

It should however, be taught like every subject at school, impartially and fact based. I think we'd all soon complain if our child's German teacher was to tell the class to stop learning English or French and focus solely on German, as it is THE definitive language. In the main, this doesn't happen (whether the teacher believes it or not), so I think we can trust teachers to teach unbiased accounts of the facts, and main themes of each religion, without putting anyone's nose out.

Here endeth the lesson.
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Old 15.08.2011, 14:50
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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Is a tricky one this, but I agree with what most people have written.

You NEED to know about various religions (moreso Christianity in Europe) just because so much literature and art depends on an understanding of the bible. It would be a shame to stop any religious teaching in school, because that would then condemn a generation to be unable to understand Renaissance art for example. Whether we like it or not, Culture and Religion are heavily linked here in Europe, so learning about Religion is pretty mandatory.

It should however, be taught like every subject at school, impartially and fact based. I think we'd all soon complain if our child's German teacher was to tell the class to stop learning English or French and focus solely on German, as it is THE definitive language. In the main, this doesn't happen (whether the teacher believes it or not), so I think we can trust teachers to teach unbiased accounts of the facts, and main themes of each religion, without putting anyone's nose out.

Here endeth the lesson.
I’m not so sure. I think I’d agree with Dougal’s Breakfast that certain subjects, notably religion and ethics, simply cannot be taught impartially and the teacher will always smuggle in his/her personal views, whether consciously or unconsciously.
I firmly believe that religion should be taught in Sunday schools. As for “religion as historical and cultural object” I’d try to incorporate it in the wider concept of “cultural studies”, but I’m not sure if this would be feasible.
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Old 15.08.2011, 15:18
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Re: Should religion lessons in public schools be discontinued?

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I’m not so sure. I think I’d agree with Dougal’s Breakfast that certain subjects, notably religion and ethics, simply cannot be taught impartially and the teacher will always smuggle in his/her personal views, whether consciously or unconsciously.
I firmly believe that religion should be taught in Sunday schools. As for “religion as historical and cultural object” I’d try to incorporate it in the wider concept of “cultural studies”, but I’m not sure if this would be feasible.
I'm sure that is true to a certain extent. I am also sure we all went to schools that had religious leanings, with teachers of a particular religious bent, but it seems the majority here are areligious, so really, even if you are taught by a somewhat biased teacher, provided they teach you facts more than opinion, does it really affect your final religious persuasion? I would think your parents have a far bigger influence on that than your school ever could have.
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