Sunday, November 28, 2010

Islamic Supremacism in Christian Schools

File this under "what were they thinking?" Look at 1,400 years of Islamic expansionism, supremacism and imperialism, and what did they think would happen? Look at the Middle East -- once entirely Christian, now entrely Islamic save for the tiny Jewish state. What did they think would happen?

Look at Europe today. What did they think would happen? Look at the Islamic persecution of Christians in Indonesia, Egypt, Sudan, Darfur, Lebanon, etc........ what did they think would happen?
As Muslim enrollment increases at Christian schools, especially in Europe, so too does interfaith conflict at such institutions. A recent piece in Le Figaro highlights the stresses placed on French Catholic schools in particular. For example, the report describes how one had set up a crib for Advent, but "a Muslim parent demanded its removal, saying 'a Muslim cannot hear that Jesus is the Son of God.'" At another, Muslims walked all over a well-intentioned but hapless administrator:
A headmistress … offered Muslim students a room in which to pray and to help them avoid being caught in rain in the school courtyard. The students have turned it into a prayer room and invite other people who have nothing to do with the school to pray with them. Since then the director has been unable to use this space for other activities.

Of course, Christian schools also share many of the challenges faced by secular ones, such as students refusing to swim during Ramadan due to fear of swallowing water (an old standard). No word from Le Figaro on whether Muslims in French Catholic schools respond to lessons on evolution or the Holocaust any more positively than their public school counterparts do.

A 2008 New York Times article explains that France's hijab ban in state-run classes has pushed Muslims to Catholic schools, which are not bound by this law and must accept students of all faiths to qualify for subsidies. Yet even the less critical Times piece could not ignore the ensuing cultural friction. For example, it relates the story of one Catholic school's headmaster who, after a series of accommodations, finally had to "put his foot down when students asked to remove the crucifix in a classroom they wanted for communal prayers during Ramadan."

Christian schools elsewhere are caught in a similar cycle. NIS News reported in 2008 that "two Amsterdam secondary schools with a Christian basis are to close during [Eid al-Fitr] to accede to their Muslim pupils." A year later, a Dutch Catholic elementary school with a handful of Muslims was planning to serve halal food at a Christmas meal, but officials reversed course following parental outrage.

In the UK, bishops have recommended that Catholic schools include prayer rooms and washing facilities for Muslims. The Times of London has also noted that at least one Muslim-heavy Church of England school "no longer observes the requirement to have an act of daily collective worship that is 'consistently and recognizably Christian.'"


Misguided British government attack on school sport

Gove has been declaring ‘war’ on education this week. You can argue elsewhere about the merits of his plans in the academic arena. But some of the collateral damage he has inflicted was idiotically destructive in the extreme, most notably the decision to wipe £162million of protected School Sports Partnership (SSP) funding from the books.

This is money that guaranteed five hours of children’s physical education classes and sports activity per week, allowing schools and colleges to combine facilities and resources.

Gove doesn’t like it. He says money should not be ring-fenced and head teachers must be able to spend their cash as they wish. Either he is stupid — and let us assume here that he is not — or he is being deliberately disingenuous. Gove knows full well why this money had to be ring-fenced.

Schools will not be assessed by any Government methodology or league table for their PE programmes or after-school sports clubs. And so pressurised head teachers will raid the sport pot for every eventuality. Competitions and events will disappear; schools with no PE teachers will find it difficult to link up with centres in their region that have trained staff and useful partnerships will collapse.

On the plus side, however, the bored kid that always sets fire to the wheelie bin outside your house might be easier to identify, because he’ll be too fat to run.

We all know money is tight right now, but this is a false economy on a staggeringly grand scale. The only time the majority of children take part in any worthwhile exercise is at school.

Health should be an absolutely essential part of their education plan, particularly in a country where so many youngsters are indolent and heart disease and diabetes are on the rise.

The amount involved here is also relatively tiny. It’s just over two per cent of the £7billion the UK rustled up to put a bankrupt Republic of Ireland back on the treadmill.

What’s more, for all the lousy education policies dreamt up by the last Government, here was a scheme that was delivering.

Youth Sports Trust (YST) statistics point out that seven years ago less than a quarter of school-children took part in the two hours of physical activity required in the curriculum. Now, thanks to the partnerships Gove aims to wreck, the figure is more than 90 per cent. But to fill the void he is needlessly creating, Gove proposes an ‘Olympic-style school event’.

That’s right. A few sporty kids will still get the chance to run about as they have always done while the rest will be sent back to their PlayStations and turkey twizzlers.

Gove and his Minister for Sport Hugh Something-or-other hoped their steaming dereliction of duty might pass unnoticed if they stuck the Olympics label on their glorified school sports day idea. Pretty much everyone saw through the cynicism.

This isn’t about pretending you can create Olympians through a school jamboree. It’s about the fact that everyday participation in sport gives children self-esteem, raises confidence levels and reduces anti-social behaviour. It provides them with a grounding in leadership, teamwork, or the simple benefits of working up a sweat. Not that Gove looks like he knows anything about that.

A former journalist, Lord help us, the only evidence I can find of Gove in active competition was during his time as ‘chief adjudicator at the World Universities Debating Championship’. I hear he ticked boxes on pieces of paper with great vigour.

He could be a secret jiu-jitsu black belt. But I suspect he was always the last kid picked for any team in the playground and this is his horrible revenge.

Needless to say Gove found some statistics to support his position, as any serial debater would. He toured television studios parroting the line that the scheme had failed because ‘only one child in five plays regular competitive sport against another school’.

Others, who actually know something about this topic, pointed out he had cherry-picked statistics and was talking complete Northampton Town (club nickname: ‘Cobblers’). David Cameron even stood at the Dispatch Box during Prime Minister’s Questions and, from a crib sheet provided by Gove’s department, declared: ‘The number of schools offering rugby (he meant union, not league, but didn’t feel the need to say this, being an Old Etonian), hockey, netball and gymnastics actually fell under the previous Government.’

As Channel 4 astutely pointed out in their analysis, that drop was negligible - between one and five per cent over seven years. But there was a reason for this.

Cameron had blithely ignored the fact that the number of state schools offering rugby league, football, athletics, cricket, tennis, basketball, cycling, golf, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, canoeing, archery, fitness classes, mountaineering, rowing, sailing, judo, karate, boxing, lacrosse, squash, equestrian sports, triathlon and even skateboarding, dance and orienteering had gone up.

In total, the average number of sports offered by any school had risen from 14 to 19, which more than accounted for the slight dip in the four sports Cameron had so cynically selected as failures. Did Gove leave that off his bluffer’s guide? I guess so.

Like all sport, it isn’t over until the final whistle. If you hate what the Government is about to do, if you are a parent, or someone who understands what SSPs contribute, then protest and complain.

Moreover, remember this disastrous plan when you see Cameron supporting the 2018 World Cup bid this week. Remember it when you see Gove’s goggle eyes swivelling in the free seats at the 2012 Olympics. Remember it when ministers elbow into photo opportunities alongside British medal winners at Downing Street in the hope of bathing in some reflected glory. Remember it when they say how important it is to create a sporting legacy for this country. If Cameron doesn’t reverse this decision, he’ll be the dummy, not Gove.


Australia: Bullsh*t school in Victoria cops flak from parents

A SCHOOL that banned homework for young students has been forced to change the policy after a furious backlash from parents. Children from prep to year nine at Carranballac College in Point Cook are not given daily tasks to do at home because it is felt it is unnecessary and even detrimental.

But worried parents feared their children were not keeping up with students from other schools and pushed for homework to be reintroduced.

The school confirmed it has "redefined" its homework policy, but said tasks were still not compulsory. "Families are encouraged to interact in quality learning experiences as a family," principal Peter Kearney said. "Families are advised upon enrolment of our belief in the value of shared family experiences." [What a lot of empty talk! What business does this pr*ick have lecturing families on what they do?]

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said the school made the homework u-turn because "parents delusionally base the quality of their child's education on the amount of homework they were given". "Parents want homework because they think it will make children better educated. But it can in fact have the opposite effect and even be harmful," he said.

Parent Melanie Bluff, who has two daughters at the school, said she approves of the scheme. "I'm a big fan because you are doing things tailored for your child," she said. "My daughter Alexandra, who is nine, lacked confidence a year ago, but teachers were able to suggest real life scenarios that have really helped. We asked her to ring for a pizza on her own, things like that, and the change has been staggering."

Mr Kearney said: "We ask parents to spend some time with their children after school time to reinforce some of the things they have learned. This process is not difficult." [But it is also none of his business]


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