Sunday, July 02, 2017

Unhappy That Religious Schools Evaluate Themselves, UK Secular Group Wants ‘Non-Partisan’ Teaching

For well over a century, religious organizations in Britain have had the right to inspect and determine how well they teach matters of faith in their own schools.

Now, a British secular group is publicly questioning whether this should be done by the government instead, charging that the traditional procedure is a waste of money – and moreover does not ensure that religious education is “non-partisan.”

Using freedom of information requests, the National Secular Society has found out that the Church of England and the Catholic Education Service have been paid around $6.3 million (£4,840,750) over the last six school years to inspect schools under their care.

A much smaller fraction of this sum was also paid during this time to the Association of Muslim Schools, two different Sikh groups and the Board of Deputies, the main body of British Jews, the NSS found..

Some form of religious education is compulsory in all state schools in England and Wales, but faith-oriented schools generally have a lot more leeway in focusing it around their own religion.

Almost all religious schools in Britain are either partly or heavily subsidized by the government, and the majority of them are Christian.

While the government directly monitors how well religion is taught in non-faith schools, the right of religious organizations to undertake this task themselves in their schools has been in place since the 1840s.

According to church guidelines, schools run by the Church of England (Anglican Church) will be statutorily evaluated at least once every five years on their religion education and how they worship together.

In a practice mirrored by other religions, among other things, independent inspectors will sit in on classes, talk to students and teachers, and evaluate school records, before producing a report for the school’s governing board.

Stephen Evans, campaigns director for the NSS, said in a statement that having all schools directly inspected by the government would save enormous amounts in government grants.

“More importantly it would better ensure that religious education in faith schools is broad and balanced and not being used to promote religion or inculcate pupils into a particular faith,” he said.

Evans said that another big problem is that church schools are not delivering objective education about religion and belief.

“"We want to ensure that all pupils to have the same entitlement to high quality, non-partisan education about religion and belief,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said Thursday it is right for the quality of faith-based religious education that teaching should be inspected by those with expertise in that particular religion.

“Faith schools are still subject to [other government] inspections which take into account whether they are actively promoting British values,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for the Church of England said the denomination has 4,700 schools that are free of charge, in accordance with charitable purposes.

“Determining whether a school is operating consistently with that ethos is the legal responsibility of the Church of England” the spokesperson said. “We believe that these inspections provide excellent value for money.”

Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service, said on Wednesday that church schools deliver religious education in accordance with parent choice, and that inspecting it requires specialist training and expertise.

“The churches have a network of qualified and trained inspectors that are independent of the schools inspected and follow a rigorous inspection framework and handbook that are available publicly, as are the resulting reports,” he said.

Barber added that the costs of inspections are only partially covered by government grants, while the rest is covered by the church in question.


Education today leads to Self-Destruction

Today's students have been skillfully educated to demonstrate their ignorance with both ease and pride. If you have doubts, you should:

Listen to them discuss popular concerns (like black lives matter, capitalism, socialism, Wall Street, and politics). Observe them as they measure their self-worth with destructive acts in order to win the approval of their peers. Note the activities they enjoy and whom they idolize. And, by all means, ask their "educators" what they believe should be done about it. When you remind yourself that many of them have been shaped by our schools for twelve, sixteen, eighteen, and even more years, you will get an idea of what many educators are doing daily to innocent students in the name of "education."

But you mustn't stop there. If you really want to understand the problem, you must learn to probe deeper. Read what the average student must read in many of his classes: volumes of irrational nonsense in which clever writers adroitly lead students to their intellectual graveyards; acquaint yourself with some of the "profound" ideas voiced by popular anarchists, presented to students as precepts of "freedom" lovers. And observe the academic routine - the busy-work, the contradictory curricula content, and the historical negationism - conceived to confuse and deaden healthy minds seeking truth and sound principles to guide them.

When I was a student, I remember some of the mush that I was expected to learn in order to pass exams.  I remember a history professor who tested me on my retention of footnotes (not important concepts and facts); a psychology professor who thwarted my clear observation of human behavior with Freudian clichés; a literature professor who graded me by some subjective standard that made no real sense to me; and, most disturbingly, a philosophy professor who promised to deliver profound insights, but instead delivered a sleazy philosophy on relativity. (This is the concept, which uses superficial standards, not moral principles, as its premise.)

Because of such wide-spread teaching practices, many American students graduate from school intellectually handicapped. The degree of their handicap usually depends on the amount of years they have spent in school - especially in the liberal arts department - and how seriously they took their studies during their school years. Although they may read, write, and speak with some skill, many of them find it difficult to break free of the mental straitjacket they must wear. As a result, they find themselves incapable of thinking deeply and independently. When they are finally released to the world, the majority, sadly, are released like conditioned Pavlovian dogs who are trained to respond to popular political ideas, social fads, and more, on cue, exactly as they were instructed by their teachers and other influential adults.

The end result is the typical graduate who lives for the moment irresponsibly, guided by his conditioned reflex. The bright ones, who find conflict with what they are taught and what they perceive as true, are left with the mentally exhausting task of sorting through the mush they have learned in school for an explanation. Unfortunately, all they often discover for their effort is a lot of dead ideas that lead to nihilism. For this reason, many give up and find comfort in some form of self-destruction like drugs and alcohol.

This type of education is tragic. Students by nature are rational beings who want to take control of their lives. A student who can't often finds himself turning to others for guidance. If irresponsibly advised, such students can easily be encouraged to make decisions that will later prove regrettable.

Since we live in an age, where ignorance and sensations are esteemed, not knowledge and reason, they usually have a broad choice of self-destructive activities to choose from. I firmly believe a healthy mind dedicated to the joys of learning in a truly intellectual and mentally healthy sense is not a mind that will want to obliterate itself with cheap thrills and drugs.

What is the solution?

In an effort to understand the solution, I spent some time researching what respected educators thought good teaching ought to be. In two articles that I published in 1993 and 1994, I identified my views in Basic Education (a Council for Basic Education publication). One article was on how to teach history and the other was on how to teach literature (both are online at The general value of these two articles is that they provide a template, which teachers can use to bring lasting understanding to their subjects.

Today, as never before, the freedom, which Americans have long taken for granted, is being skillfully undermined by progressive educators (like John Dewey and his disciples). These clever thinkers who have set the standards for our teachers to follow must be identified and removed from education. Their theories have for too many years insidiously and systematically destroyed the cognitive development of our students. In my two easy-to-read novels, The Fire Within (which dramatically examines two opposing education philosophies) and Teacher of the Year, the play and the novel, (which examines with corrosive wittiness a satirical educator), I have attempted to link the problems in education to the ideas responsible.

Education is our fundamental defense against societal disintegration, which is rapidly occurring in America (best exemplified by the Berkeley riots and the Alinsky-inspired radicalism generously encouraged on our campuses). To resist this assault instigated by some leaders, we need to hire teachers capable of inspiring students to higher levels of cognition - teachers dedicated to developing minds like fortresses filled with knowledge to combat irrationality. But before this can be done, our primary goal must be to rid our schools, as soon as possible, of some of those poisonous practices and ideas so commonplace in education today and once again bring sensible balance to the presentation of ideas.


Australian Pre-schools.  A CLOSE look at the statistics is instructive

Australian preschools might have seen a rush of enrolments this week after media covered an OECD report claiming children who attend preschool for two years prior to starting school have significantly higher academic achievement at 15.

But perhaps they should have looked more closely at the OECD results. Dig deeper, and you find that in around half the countries reported, the relationship is no longer significant when socioeconomic status is taken into account. Australia is one of those countries.

And the data on which this report bases its claims are retrospective self-report data from 15-year olds-themselves about whether they went to preschool or child care, and for how long — far from rigorous research.

International report cards like this one are all too often based on spurious statistics: a report published by UNICEF last week purported to find that the quality of Mexico’s education system is in the top three in the world, despite its low performance in international assessments. These sorts of reports are given a high profile by major media outlets, and credible organisations issue media statements in support of the findings. Yet they often just muddy the policy waters.

Parents who have had the fortune to find a great preschool or child care centre will attest to the benefits of some sort of early childhood education. Schools in disadvantaged areas, in particular, know that children who have been to preschool or had good part-time child care are generally better prepared for school.

This makes sense and proper empirical research supports it — all children benefit to some extent from a good pre-school education, but the greatest benefits are to children whose home environments are not conducive to strong language and social-emotional development.

However, it does not mean a parent panic of packing three-year-olds off to preschool for fear of ruining their little lives.


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