Saturday, July 14, 2007

National Secular Socety: critique of Catholic Schools

Discussion: this continues a discussion from 'Catholic Mom of 10'.

Hullo, Zeno, a latecomer to this discussion I don't think anyone has addressed your central point (at least to your satisfaction): why should the state allow itself to get involved financially with schools founded to promote a particular set of beliefs and values?

The historical answer: the state wanted to ensure free education for all, at a time when free or very low cost education was already being provided for the great majority by various charitable and church establishments. It would have been absurd to found new shcools and close all the old ones down, so they did a deal: the existing schools got state funding if they agreed not to charge the pupils. So this great array of grammar schools, charitable schools and church schools carried on teaching, you might say as subcontractors for the government. But they remained independent institutions, and when the government decided to prevent the Grammar Schools - some dating back to the 16th C - from selecting by academic criteria, in the 1960s, some left the 'maintained' sector, and became, once more, 'independent'. The exact terms of the agreement have varied over time, and perhaps they are different in England and Scotland, but the details aren't important.

So the Government still has this problem: they can't be too rough with the Church schools becasue they'll lose them. Those of us who think it was a Faustian bargain in the first place might regard that prospect with pleasure, and perhaps Zeno and I would agree on that. But the bargain had obvious advantages for both the state and the Churches at the time.

But that's not the fundamental thing. The matter of principle here is whether it makes sense for the Government to spend taxpayers' money on schools with a specific ethos. The main answer to that is that it is impossible to avoid doing so. There is no school with no 'ethos'; there are no value-free schools. Education itself is a value, and each subject has to be taught from some point of view or other. At the moment the government is tying to force the most dreary politically correct brainwashing on pupils: every Shakespeare play is an idictment of some kind of oppression; French is all about the evils of racism; Geography is loaded with critiques of capitalism and development theories. But while I'm sure we can agree that this ham-fisted stuff is contrary to values of the love of learning and truth which should be at the heart of education, as I say no presentation of Shakespeare, or Geography, or French history and culture, can avoid taking a view about values.

And that is the fundamental problem with the NSS agenda: it is incoherent. When the NSS's oponents say they don't want their children indoctrinated with secularism as a substitute religion, this is why: because a school which avoids religious values will be based on some kind of alternative values. It has to be. Simple as that.


Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Thanks to Catholic Action coming in to offer support!

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

This discussion is still going strong! We've got the atheists on board now..all comments & support appreciated!

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen