Monday, October 31, 2011

Religious Indoctrination?

About six weeks ago I visited my sister and her family.  During the visit my twelve year old niece asked if we could all help with her homework from her RE class.

The task set for the homework was to ask four people if they believed in god and why (or why not).  I have to say I was appalled that such a biased question had been asked, and not only that but many people's beliefs are very much private and the school was assuming that they would wish to discuss them.

I was quite happy to say I am an atheist, but that the reasons why would take up more than the few words the school would expect and to be fair I don't feel I need to explain myself to them.

I checked the school's RE curriculum and found that basically they preach Christianity (I don't think that is too strong a word) and make a brief mention of Islam - beyond that there may be five minutes a year where they mention atheism and other faiths.

Therefore it doesn't surprise me that they phrased the question in this way but I feel it would be better if it were to be multi part.  Firstly, would you mind me asking about your views on religion, secondly if OK then what religion if any do you follow and finally, would you like to say a few words on why this is your choice.

My brother in law wrote to the school explaining that he was not happy with this homework that had been set and received a rather abrupt response that the purpose was to provide a topic for discussion in class.  Clearly the teacher felt that by rigging the question the discussion could be kept in line with the school's RE curriculum.

Furthermore my niece was then taken out of class whereupon the teacher expressed surprise that she had not completed the homework, despite the fact that her father had explained why.

So here we have a school which promotes a biased view of religion, uses homework to reinforce the bias and finally takes issue with those who choose to have their own opinions.

Perhaps if should be renamed the 'George Orwell School of 1984'


My nephew attends the same school and is three years older than his sister.  He has managed to ignore the indoctrination and has chosen to be an atheist.  I must add that he made this decision independently and was not to my knowledge influenced by my atheism, certainly I had not discussed my views or beliefs regarding this with him until after he had made his views clear.


  1. You should read the letter from my son's headteacher if your hair wants to stand on end...

  2. @vjohn82: It is worrying, and having read the comments on your post I see that the 'legal requirement' quoted by the head teacher is not so.

    I do find it interesting that the head teacher thincs Comic Sans is appropriate for letters - a tribial point but what does it say about the bigger picture?