Our eldest son has been on this earth for just over eight and a half years. In that time he has tried out a few things organised mostly by my wife. From mini indoor soccer for toddlers to junior soccer for young kids, as well as Gymbaroo, a gymnastics and gross motor skill development program, and a singing and dancing class, drum lessons plus a few other activities his mum signed him up for in his life before starting school, all of which he hated, he has been given the opportunity to try many things.
I give my wife kudos for getting him motivated to try these things.
Since starting school he has taken to doing many more things. Although I didn’t include swimming lessons amongst those things my wife signed him up for that he hated, as swimming and water play is a big part of the Australian way of life it is important to get your kids to learn to swim even if they hate doing the lessons. Now, both he and his younger brother love doing swimming lessons, and now that both are fairly confident and capable swimmers, it makes things like hanging out in our hotel’s pool much more enjoyable as we did whilst spending the last week on the Gold Coast.
In addition to those potentially life saving swim lessons, the eldest also partakes in playing junior AFL (or Aussie Rules) plus he does acting lessons. Now to the untrained reader it would seem that I’ve really only listed three activities that hew does besides attending school, but when we delve deeper into it, it is in fact something that he does during school time that lends itself consuming all of his spare time when not doing all of these other activities.
Scripture. Or, more to the point, non-scripture.
Although it has been removed from public schools in the state of Victoria, SRE, otherwise known as Special Religious Education, or more commonly “Scripture” is still an interruption in the learning week for children in public schools around the rest of the country. The thing is, Scripture ain’t really “scripture” per se these days. Scripture is, by definition, the teaching of the writings of the Christian text, mostly the Bible. But as we have Hindu and Punjabi along side Catholic and Anglican with Islam having been introduced this year, the name Scripture is really redundant.
And, really, so is the topic itself. Special Religious Education that only focuses on one religion, that in which the parents sign their kids up to is not really Special Religious Education, it’s just continual religious indoctrination of their chosen religion.
As a non-believing family however, when the note came home we had a choice to tick Catholic, Anglican, Hindu, Punjabi, Islam or non-scripture. Wait, what? Non-scripture? What the fuck is that?
I mean, when the note came home for sports trials we had a list of sports to choose from including rugby league, soccer, netball, softball, but there wasn’t the option of non-soccer, or non-netball when in fact, that is exactly what our son wanted to do.
In addition to that, outside school he does non-dancing on Monday afternoons. He does non-karate on Tuesday nights. He loves doing non-go karting on Saturdays. He’s really great at non-baseball on Thursday nights. And, on Sundays, after he plays AFL, we have to quickly whisk him away to do non-Sunday school.
All of these non-activities he can do in the comfort of our own home.
I’m sure by this point you’re reeling in the frivolous nature of this posts, but hear me out. I’ve written about it before; I think religion should be out of public schools. Sure, have it in Catholic Schools, Anglican Schools, or Islamic Schools, but leave public school education for teaching secular subjects rather than segregating kids into this religion and that religion. But if we have to have it, let’s allow those children who choose, or whose parents choose for them not to do “Scripture” to do a class that is more than just having a teacher read them passages of a book as I wrote about in my post How To Freak Out Secular Parents.
I know that there is an alternative, and that alternative is called Ethics, but, as told to me by a friend who works for the NSW Department of Education;
“Ethics is only offered if there are volunteers (usually parents) to teach it at that school. Otherwise the only alternative is non-scripture. In non-scripture the kids aren’t allowed to do any structured learning or even start their homework as this is perceived as them getting educational benefits that the children in scripture classes don’t get. It’s basically quiet free play, i.e. reading and drawing.”
And I object to that as well. If you are allowing or forcing your child to do one of the SRE classes then it stands for reason that your expectation is that child will be a believer and as a believer that will be given a “get out of jail free” card or a golden ticket to Heaven. Surely to the believers that has to be equal to a non-believing child having these so-called educational benefits that the kids doing scripture do not get. And maybe those are worth somewhat more when you take into consideration that all the non-believer’s kids are going straight to Hell.
But, until all the state based Departments of Education in Australia come to their senses and drop SRE in public schools, it would seem that non-scripture is the class our boys will be attending. And hopefully whatever mind-numbing activity they’ve done in that class that day has been well an truly put behind them as they head home from school to get ready to do whatever non-activity it is that they won’t be doing that day.