With Easter appearing just around the corner, I am allowed another two weeks off of school in order to celebrate the religious holiday: just like at Christmas. Many would expect this to be about the commercialism of religious holidays, but those of you who know me (or have in fact been in any of my Religious Studies classes) are more likely to know the angle of this particular rant.
For a country where religion is an option, not a compulsory action, it seems absurd that term times are based so close to religious holidays; of course, the schools need to have breaks for term times and such, but apart from the Summer Holidays, the two main recesses are for religious ceremonies. Yet even worse is that these are only Christian holidays; not Muslim or Jewish or Hindu or Sikh or any other of the vast amount of religions that our country hosts. For a multi-cultural country, it seems unaccepting that the traditions of a conforming society have been brought forward into the modern era.
Not only are the Christian traditions being used as national holidays, but the ideals are being preached in schools. I am not writing to offend, persuade or discriminate against any religion or sect; however, I think that children especially should be allowed to choose their own faith and belief, without the influences of schooling. Although in primary schools most were taught the religious beliefs of as many as possible, for me, this was as far as it went. Where I live, there were two schooling options for secondary schools: a CofE school or a non-denominational school. For personal religious reasons I was sent to the latter. Yet for such a promise, it was not fulfilled: we are still made to sit in one assembly a week hosted by a member of the Christian church. For a non-denominational, it seems greatly unfair that we are not open to assemblies presented by members of other faiths. As well as this, despite the fact that an R.S. GCSE was detailed with a curriculum of Ethics and Philosophy, we have been taught nothing but Christian history, ethics and philosophy. As interesting as this may be for some – and I am in no way trying to say that it is not something worth learning – when we are promised a broad and enveloping curriculum and given only a rather narrow learning, it is misleading and discriminative. England is a rich and cultural society that welcomes many varying religions, and it seems awful that schools (or mine at least) are limiting what students are open to, at a crucial point in time for decisions to be made about adult lives.
Unfortunately, it is not just schooling that is having an effect. Around the world there are cases of religious extremism, ranging from terrorism to chants and protests. Children are being displayed this information and influenced by sources that they don’t really know anything about. Understandably, it is the news’ job to report what is happening around the world, and it falls more to parents to regulate the amount that children are seeing. Yet when it comes to education, I think it is unfair that a school or curriculum board should introduce such influencing lessons and discussions at such an early age. Teach it yes: but teach other religions alongside Christianity equally without a sense of forcing the religion upon us.
As I said, I am not hoping to offend, criticise or persuade against any religion, or say that any should be taught above the other: on the contrary, I think they should all be taught equally, from a neutral, outsiders perspective, rather than an in depth and emotive look at one particular religion. I hope that schools can re-consider, and if they can do nothing to change it, that the Government can amend the injustice of the education system, before it becomes more than one person blogging about it.