For international readers Compass is a program that examines religion, mostly in Australian society.
This weeks program focused on Christian Schooling, last weeks was on Muslim schooling in Australia.
The comments thread in their guest book has some interesting points of view also.
Essentially the show focused on 4 schools, 2 of the more liberal Christian schools being the Catholics and Anglicans and two fundamentalist schools that displayed worrying trends and articulated some very backward ideas.
The Catholic and Anglican education was pretty much that which I experienced, they teach what is essentially a state curriculum with good science, english and history coverage and probably turn out more agnostics and atheists, if my family is anything to go by.
I will focus on the other two schools which frankly scared the hell out of me.
The Tasmanian Experience:
Community Christian Academy in Launceston.
This innocuously named little gem grew out of a home schooling arrangement by the current principle ( I wonder if he has any teaching qualifications?) and now caters to 100 students.
It promotes the Accelerated Christian Education(ACE) system of learning imported from the States. This system has been criticised by any educator worth their salt:
"If parents want their children to obtain a very limited and sometimes inaccurate view of the world - one that ignores thinking above the level of rote recall - then the ACE materials do the job very well. The world of the ACE materials is quite a different one from that of scholarship and critical thinking"
and speaking from experience, Julie Hay writes in comments section of the Compass website :
I am a 59 yr old divorced woman, with two adult children, one 31 and one 24, both of whom spent 8 yrs in an ACE school,
I have absolutely nothing good to say about it, quite the opposite, these schools are very destructive, negative, extremely punitive & abusive, separating, isolating, inculcating, indoctrinating, brainwashing, dogmatic, aggressive, arrogant, misogynistic, racist, they destroy self esteem, self respect, demonise the world outside of themselves, they are elitist whilst at the same time being sado-masochistic......
and if one truly thinks about all the adjectives I have used and their meanings, well I can only warn people to stay away from these terrible prisons, these places of mental and physical abuse,I cannot begin to tell you just how it almost destroyed myself and my children....anyway, that's about as much as I can bring myself to say at present. [source]
"Teacher" education in the system is a 4 day course.
Children sit in cubicles facing the wall, and are shielded from their compatriots - wonderful no doubt, for controlling students and keeping them focused (particularly when your teacher only has 4 days training).
They summon the teacher using the Christian flag (pictured above), the Australia flag is used to summon subordinate help (teachers aids etc). What could a child conclude from that I wonder?
That this type of school could receive government funding is outrageous, forget arguments about having a choice. This system is abusing and hamstringing a child's education. There are issues of child protection and protecting the national interest I think.
Parents were also required to sign an agreement forbidding them criticising the schools methods and teaching curriculum.
The most worrying feature of this school was their lovely little plan for training youth proselytisers:
At Community Christian Academy students not only make commitments to Jesus Christ, they’re encouraged to share their faith with others. The school chaplain has started a group called the Anti-nowhere league, where student volunteers learn how to pass on their beliefs.
Alan Greenwood (principal)
"It’s been a huge success in just getting kids to focus on their relationship with the Lord. We’ve got around 15 to 20 students who have been discipled one on one and are now keen to pass that on to another student.
The mission statement of Community Christian Academy would be to make disciples of each student who leaves from this place. Just as Jesus sent his disciples out. We would see ourselves as being modern day disciples"
The anti-nowhere league, [forgive me I am pissing myself laughing here] I sincerely hope a third grader came up with the title. The implication of course, the message that you are placing in young minds is: if you are not with jesus, you have no direction, no meaning, you are going nowhere, and perhaps you are a nobody?
I don't tend to agree with Dawkins on his label of religion as child abuse, but with this example I am inclined to agree.
The Victorian Experience:
Chairo Christian School
This school was older, more refined and less likely to wear its fundamentalism on its sleeve. As heard in the narration:
At Chairo Christian School, where the Victorian state curriculum is taught, the approach is different again. The Biblical account of creation is definitely included in science subjects, but students are also exposed to ideas about evolution, as just one theory to explain life on earth. [source]
Let me guess you are reinforced with christianity every class of everyday and they teach you this alternative theory called Evolution. Which one is going to stick?
Most concerning was the singing of the national anthem with altered lyrics that focused on Christ as being lord and saviour. How various state and federal education departments are not embarrassed by this I will never know.
So there you have it? Christian fundamentalism in education is on the rise in Australia aided by the state. Preference for religion through the back door.