Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Place of Faith in Education

A Unique Perspective on the Issue from CIVITAS


"Education is only adequate and worthy when it is itself religious… There is no possibility of neutrality… To be neutral concerning G-d is the same thing as to ignore Him… If children are brought up to have an understanding of life in which, in fact, there is no reference to G-d, you cannot correct the effect of that by speaking about G-d for a certain period of the day. Therefore our ideal for the children of our country is the ideal for truly religious education." -- William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942.

Here is a very interesting report from CIVITAS [1.], on The Place of Faith in Schools [click to read] by Professor David Conway. It adds a new dimension to the debate now raging in America between those who would impose a strictly secular criteria and those who consider Faith an essential component of learning.

"[A] nation which draws into itself continuously, and not merely in its first beginnings, the inspiration of a religious faith and a religious purpose will increase its own vitality… Our own nation… has been inspired by a not ignoble notion of national duty to aid the oppressed – the persecuted Vaudois, the suffering slave, the oppressed nationality – and it has been most... characteristically national when it has most felt such inspiration…

We offend against the essence of the [English] nation if we emphasise its secularity, or regard it as merely an earthly unit for earthly purposes. Its tradition began its life at the breast of Christianity; and its development in time, through the centuries… has not been utterly way from its nursing mother… [I]n England our national tradition has been opposed to the idea of a merely secular society for secular purposes standing over against a separate religious society for religious purposes. Our practice has been in the main that of the single society, which if national is also religious, making public profession of Christianity in its solemn acts, and recognising religious instruction as part of its scheme of education." -- Ernest Barker, Cambridge Philosopher

Professor Conway  Concludes: "All would stand to benefit from such committed forms of religious education in the country’s state-funded schools, not simply because it would be likely to improve the educational performance, behaviour and well-being of the nation’s schoolchildren. They would also all benefit because, I believe, only by continuing to provide it can this country be assured of remaining the independent and united liberal polity that it has for so long been and from whose continuing to be such all its diverse inhabitants would derive benefit, even those who do not share that faith or any other."

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