Last night (April 9) Prime Time ran an item on how religion is being taught in a new type of State-run, inter-denominational primary school. The report was heavily weighted against the practice of teaching the various faith groups separately during class time.
For example, Labour’s Ruairi Quinn, who was critical of the practice, was given an easy time of it, while Clare Maloney of Marino Institute of Education, who was defending the practice, was given a hard time of it.
Basically Quinn, and most of the people interviewed for the report think all the children should be taught religion together and not taught separately (‘divided’ and ‘segregated’ were some of the loaded words that were used in the report).
But at no point was the opinion of the parents themselves sought. One parent was interviewed who doesn’t like the fact that the various faiths will be taught separately, but that was it. We never found out whether the remainder of the parents want their children taught their own faith separately during school time, or not.
Presumably each parent was asked by the school how they want their children to be taught religion and ticked the desired box which probably indicates they do want them taught separately. But we never found out for sure because they weren’t asked. In fact, the thrust of the report was highly paternalistic, that is, parents who send their children to these schools will take what they’re given. One-size-fits-all must be the order of the day.Choice doesn’t come into it.
As mentioned, one of the interviewees in the report used the word ‘segregation’, but when people freely choose between different options the result of their choices will often be that they separate into different groups at different times. The only way to prevent this is to ignore their choices. How is that progress?
(Interestingly, most of the time Muslim, Catholic and non-Catholic Christian children are taught religion together. They are only separated for sacramental preparation).