There’s a piece in this week’s Economist on government funding for faith schools. I’d forgotten that the government shamefully capitulated to the imaginary-friend-in-the-sky brigade and didn’t force them, as originally planned, to set aside places for children without mentally ill parents.
Anyway. The article is broadly abolitionist, which is a good thing. But it glosses over the suggestion that religous schools can provide better educational outcomes (even for kids of a given income level) than secular schools – it cites one LSE study which believes previous work was inadequately controlled, but only in passing. Given that the main claim behind faith schools is that they’re better, a good article would have devoted rather more time to the point [note to self: write a good article one day].
If faith schools do have better educational outcomes, then I have a genius plan to allow this advantage while ending the ghettoisation and unthinking indoctrination that makes them morally evil: allow parents to opt to send their child to a faith school, but then ensure the faith is different from that of the parents.
This will not only provide the disciplinary and teacher-motivational benefits that are supposed to be associated with religious schooling, but will also highlight to kids that 1) it’s all just a load of stories anyway 2) grown-ups, when speaking about beliefs rather than facts, are not to be trusted 3) the worthwhile parts, like respecting other people, are common to [the chat, if not the actions, of] all religions.
My staunchly atheist parents sent me to a succession of church schools. This left me thinkingly rather than unthinkingly atheist, and also gave me an infinitely better knowledge of Christian theology than most of the idiots who actually believe in said cult. Which is about the best grounding in life that one could ask for…