It was very encouraging meeting up with Piet Murre who is a Professor of Education at Driestar Christian University, Gouda in the Netherlands. I met him in 2009 in Holland. He came with another lecturer from Driestar and four students who are training to be teachers.
Following on from my short piece about the Ofsted Report, some thoughts on how many young people learn Scripture in their RE lessons.
Many British people have studied RE but it is often unacknowledged how materialism and Hollywood mythology infuse this educational experience.
Here we draw on the research of Terence Copley's Biblos Project at Exeter University. His team have been looking at what children learn about the meaning of Bible stories in schools in England. Here are some examples:
- Pupils leave school knowing almost nothing about core Christian beliefs.
- Pupils are often exposed to Mickey Mouse Relgious Education that they find babyish and unchallenging.
- Pupils are unable to think coherently about religious beliefs and how they shape our lives.
- Pupils understand RE in almost complete isolation from the rest of the curriculum.
- Pupils are rarely challenged when they spout nonsensical claptrap.
When people talk about Christian education, many people think about the archetypal Bible-basher. Someone who attacks you with Scripture.
This is tragic.
In my view Christian education should be about wisdom, discernment and understanding the brutal stories that ruin countless lives. Consider this.
When we talk about Christian education at RealityBites we are not talking primarily about explicit biblical teaching. We are not urging Christian educators to 'Bible-bash'. Rather our concern is to help adults and young people to understand the powerful Worldview Stories that shape and mould our imaginations and lifestyles.
Consider for a moment the powerful Hollywood perspective that repeatedly urges us to:
Trust in your instincts!
Follow your heart!
Follow your dreams!
Have faith in yourself!
Be who you want to be!
HITEC university is situated about 20 miles north-west of Islamabad in Pakistan. It got started in 2007 and now has more than 1400 students.
This is how it 'sells' itself on its website:
HITEC University offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Engineering, Management Sciences, Mathematics, Computer and Islamic Shariah. The up-to-date and well-conformed [sic] syllabi have been tailored to the market needs and are designed to equip the students with the latest developments in their fields of specialization.
Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association. Polly Toynbee is the President and Richard Dawkins is the vice president.
"How should RE be taught in schools?"
The debate went extremely well. Andrew is a very affable and intelligent man. I think I disarmed him by telling some of my stories with voices. I was very encouraged to see him smiling in a very nice way. I argued that we desperately need worldview awareness plus critical thinking skills etc. In a vague way he seemed to agree.