For those who favour a return to traditional, authority-based religious schooling of the sort that predominated in the West up until the 1960s, here is a challenge.
It is taken from my book The War For Children’s Minds.
Suppose political schools started springing up – a neoconservative school in Billericay followed by a communist school in Middlesbrough. Suppose these schools select pupils on the basis of parents’ political beliefs. Suppose they start each morning with the collective singing of political anthems. Suppose portraits of their political leaders beam down from every classroom wall. Suppose they insist that pupils accept, more or less uncritically, the beliefs embodied in their revered political texts.
If such schools did spring up, there would be outrage. These establishments would be accused of educationally stunting children, forcing their minds into politically pre-approved moulds. They’re the kind of Orwellian schools you find under totalitarian regimes in places like Stalinist Russia. My question is, if such political schools are utterly unacceptable, if they are guilty of educationally stunting children, why on earth are so many of us still prepared to tolerate their religious equivalents?
Why, if we cross out “political” and write “religious”, do these schools suddenly seem entirely acceptable to so many of us?
(note that this is not an objection to faith schools per se, but to a certain traditional sort of faith school)
For a longer article containing this challenge, go here.