Summer Present

What better summer holiday present could you give an RE teacher than getting rid of Michael Gove as education secretary three days before the holiday begins?! I don’t normally get involved in political rants online, but I can’t help myself when it comes to a privately educated man who knows nothing about education being removed from his position (demoted, some might say). Not only did he not understand the nature of Religious Education or Religious Studies, or whatever you happen to call it, but he was prejudiced and unwilling to learn what it is like. If he’d even stepped into an RE classroom in every school I’ve taught in – and probably most others – he would have understood that RE is not about indoctrination but the opposite. RE is about teaching students to think for themselves, to have the knowledge of others’ beliefs and understand the reasons for them to help them to make their own decisions. It not only helps students to understand why they all have different beliefs and opinions from one another, but helps them not to turn out like Michael Gove. It is an academically rigorous subject which requires a great depth of understanding – what, after all, is more difficult than trying to get your ahead around someone else’s reasons for beliefs you can’t even begin to agree with? It is comprised of factual information, historical information, sources, much literature, and is inter-disciplinary. And more importantly, it does all of the things the government claims to want to do without knowing how: gives a sense of culture, promotes tolerance, reduces radicalism (possible exceptions granted in a very few schools which of course make news headlines). And most importantly, students enjoy it. OK, I know, I didn’t have to justify it, but sometimes you just can’t help it…

So, to the future. It seems they have supplanted Gove with a supporter of his. So does Nicky Morgan at least start from a better position than Gove in terms of understanding Religious Education, with professing to be a Christian? Possibly, but possibly not. It depends how much she values students learning about religion and understanding, if not agreeing with, the reasons people have for their beliefs. Does she want to be understood as a Christian by the next generation? If so, she should make a strong move to put RE into the Ebacc (if she hasn’t got the guts or the ability to abolish this ridiculous concept at this stage). I won’t comment on her previous political moves up until now (many have already taken that on!) but will watch this space to see what her first moves as Education Secretary are to see if there is a glimmer of hope.

Political rant over. Now back to the theology and music.

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