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When a religious school offers the best education option

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#1 ~iMum~

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:30 PM

Sigh. And so here I am yet again asking EB for help regarding schools. We have an interview at a Christian school tomorrow morning, and tonight DH and I have been having a last minute discussion about whether  or not we are comfortable sending our kids to a Christian school, given that we are atheists through and through. I have been reading through some old threads on the topic and it seems our personal conversations have covered the same points as those discussed at various times on EB and elsewhere. Any advice from others that have been through the same situation, and did you end up feeling you'd made the right decision?

#2 liveworkplay

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:37 PM

It all boils down to whether or not you are able to uphold and respect the schools ethos. Given it is based on Christian values, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in God to do this. However, you child will learn about the christian religion and they will be asked to participate in rituals surrounding the christian church. Can you accept that?

I am assuming by Christian you are not specifically meaning Catholic or Anglican? Personally I have found Christian school much more heavy handed on the religious side then specific Catholic/Anglican ones.

#3 2bundles

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:38 PM

I think it would be tough for an athiest.  

I don't embrace religion, but I am ok with my kids being educated about it.

You do need to support the school in its teachings (unless they are unreasonable).

For us it has all been positive. The religious teachings are mostly general Christian beliefs like caring for others etc. some bible teachings but no preaching. It is a Lutheran school.

#4 ~iMum~

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:42 PM

Yes, it is a Christian school. The website is http://www.acc.qld.edu.au/, if anyone wanted to have a look.

#5 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:46 PM

I would quiz them rigorously about how they go about teaching the science curriculum ...

#6 ~iMum~

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:52 PM

What sort of questions would you ask? I'm worried I'll come across as rude.

#7 libbylu

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:57 PM

I went to a Christian religious high school and there were kids from all religions there.
Particularly if it is high school, you can just explain to your children that your personal beliefs differ from those they will be taught at school, but it is important to respect and learn about different beliefs, and while they are at the school you hope they will respect and learn about the beliefs of their teachers, but that it is up to them what they chose to personally believe.
I don't think this necessarily involves all that much conflict.
For primary school this kind of approach might be difficult I guess.

#8 Jane Jetson

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:58 PM

I've just been reading about this: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/s...0217-2el4a.html

#9 liveworkplay

Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:59 PM

I would quiz them rigorously about how they go about teaching the science curriculum ...

Only if you want to show your ignorance. Evolution and Darwinism is part of the Australian curriculum. If you must, ask about their implementation of the Australian curriculum.

If you really are keen on your child attending, I would be asking about their RE program and what it entails.

#10 Ferelsmegz

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:00 PM

I've just had this issue myself.

I ended up sending them. The school has an amazing curriculum and that overides the religion aspect in my opinion.

#11 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:02 PM

QUOTE (liveworkplay @ 18/02/2013, 10:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Only if you want to show your ignorance. Evolution and Darwinism is part of the Australian curriculum. If you must, ask about their implementation of the Australian curriculum.

If you really are keen on your child attending, I would be asking about their RE program and what it entails.

Oh ok....

Weren't watching q and a tonight were you.....

ETA: OP there have been reports of schools in QLD teaching creationism as science...that's all I meant....

Edited by Lucretia Borgia, 18 February 2013 - 10:06 PM.

#12 liveworkplay

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:08 PM

QUOTE (Lucretia Borgia @ 18/02/2013, 11:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh ok....

Weren't watching q and a tonight were you.....

ETA: OP there have been reports of schools in QLD teaching creationism as science...that's all I meant....

No I didn't. But given some of the twitter comments, I'm glad.

If a school teaches creationism in science, they would have any government funding taken away. It is not part of the science curriculum.

#13 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:10 PM

QUOTE (liveworkplay @ 18/02/2013, 11:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
No I didn't. But given some of the twitter comments, I'm glad.

If a school teaches creationism in science, they would have any government funding taken away. It is not part of the science curriculum.

I am aware. And yet these reports persist. Just thought I'd mention it to the OP....

#14 Guest_Marquise_*

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:11 PM

sorry in advance - I'm sure this will come across as a bit rude, but I don't mean it to, I really don't, it's just that the school's website has really put my teeth on edge.

You don't say whether your kids are boys or girls. Their use of 'worthwhile service to God and man' would be prompting me to ask about gender issues and how they are dealt with in the school. 'Modesty' issues? Sex ed and PH? How the body is viewed and discussed.

I would also be asking what 'teaching which is consistent with a Biblical worldview' means in relation to how they teach science (ie do they teach evolution? alone? Or do they do it comparatively with Creationalism? I would most definitely not send my athiest kids to a school which did that). Also 'Christian education, therefore, has to do with every subject of knowledge. Adding a few courses in religion and Bible study to a school curriculum, or holding religious exercises and chapel services, does not make a school Christian' - this would make me want to be *really* sure that the academic standards at this school are what I would expect. Sounds like theocracy in action to me, personally.

The school sounds intensely religious. How do they deal with students who do not believe? Is dissent welcomed? or is it a case of the student being required to keep quiet.

Personally, I would not, as a non-Christian, send my child to this school without some pretty strong assurances on the above AT LEAST and even then I might want them to prove them first.....

#15 Guest_Marquise_*

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:13 PM

QUOTE (liveworkplay @ 18/02/2013, 10:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Only if you want to show your ignorance. Evolution and Darwinism is part of the Australian curriculum. If you must, ask about their implementation of the Australian curriculum.

If you really are keen on your child attending, I would be asking about their RE program and what it entails.

yes, it is on the curriculum. But some schools choose to teach it alongside creationalism, an equation which is profoundly problematic.

#16 Spa Gonk

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:14 PM

I don't think I could.  I think it is really important to support learning at home.  If you are not supporting the religious side it makes it hard for them.  And if you are telling them it is ok to question religious beliefs, do they then think it is ok to challenge what is in the bible, or question the school rules.

The other thing is, how will you feel if your child gets right into religion?  If the teacher is saying one thing and you something else, it really makes it hard, particularly at a younger age.  And I met a teenager that was sent to a catholic school whose parents lived in a way that would be at odds with the church.  She basically was too embarrassed to bring her friends home and felt the need to basically not speak to anyone about her family as she was worried she would get kicked out of school or lose friends.  And trying to reconcile her parents sinning versus them being her parents was really hard for her.  This might be an extreme case, but still worth thinking about.

And I suppose it depends on how strong your values are, what you want to role model to your children and if the end result is worth it.

#17 2bundles

Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:33 AM

not send my atheist kids

Umm, your kids haven't made up their mind on religion yet.  As they say in Dubai "Open doors, open minds".

Op - be honest. Tell them you are not religious people and see what they say. DD's school had no issue as long as we supported their teaching.  We attend the class chapel services etc.

Eta - ok, I just read that website. This is more than DD's school would say. I would definitely ask what this means on a daily basis.
"The Christian believes that there are no neutral facts, that everything is related to God and has significance beyond this life. ... Christian education, therefore, has to do with every subject of knowledge. Adding a few courses in religion and Bible study to a school curriculum, or holding religious exercises and chapel services, does not make a school Christian. ... Christian education requires a Christian point of view for the whole curriculum; a God-centred program in every department ... A Christian school seeks to be Christian every hour of the school day."

Edited by 2bundles, 19 February 2013 - 06:38 AM.

#18 aluminium

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:20 AM

I had a look at the website, OP.

They are from a Baptist tradition so there will be an evangelical element. I suspect they will be a creationist school but you'll find that it is taught in Christian Studies, not in Science and that in Science all your typical scientific theories and explanations will be covered.

I guess, for me, it comes down to how strongly you are committed to your atheistic ways.

Are you going to get upset if your kid comes home and says, "I want to be baptised"... OR "I prayed for you today" or "Can we go to church?" ?

#19 Maniacal_laugh

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:24 AM

It depends partly on the age of your children. If it was the best educational option, I might do it for primary. But no way for high school. A non Christian teenager would struggle in that school (for example, if they were homosexual). I've taught in a similar school so that colours my viewpoint.

#20 Crinkle cut

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:25 AM

The curriculum at Annandale Christian College is built on the Biblical understanding that all things are held together in Christ.  Our curriculum fulfils the requirements of the current Queensland State Syllabuses, but places a Biblical perspective throughout the content and pursues excellence in ways that go beyond simply meeting those standards.

My bold.

I send my eldest to a catholic school, she is third generation un-churched and not a believer.  She is now going to learn about Christianity and I'm fine with that.  However, I think I'd be more hesitant to send her to a school with these types of statement on their web site.

#21 Hands Up

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:53 AM

I thought I would respond as my parents made this decision for my sister and I. It was the best school in the area at the time (Anglican). They wrestled with it a bit as we went to a public primary where kids were allowed to go the library rather than attend RE classes. In the end they made the call as RE class was only once a week (45 mins) and there were religious songs at assembly rather than prayers. In practice RE classes were more like debating class over various topical issues and I really enjoyed them!

#22 busy_bee

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:14 AM

We're going through this at the moment with DS - he's nearly 2 so we're a long way away!!

My thoughts on the whole atheism/religion thing boils down to "if I want people to respect my right to not believe, I need to respect their right to believe". Similarly with DS, we have chosen not to admit him to any religion, but also not to actively discourage him from learning about them, exploring them etc

We will most likely be private schooling and so in SA that means church affiliated - Catholic Education system or "Independent Schools" which are all linked to one of the churches in some way or another.

One thing I look for in their prospectus, communications, tours etc is the priority/order on things such as education/values/religion - that has helped us. For example one school in their vision statement had the first thing as 'providing a catholic experience.......' and then 'providing a quality education' was a bit further down the list. In my mind the 1st priority of a school should be the education/educational experience and their church affiliations should be secondary to that.

The schools that we are looking at have a  strong focus on education/experience first, then 'values' and then their church affiliations when looking at their 'brand/image' etc

I don't profess that this is an exact science, and a lot of it is the 'feel' of the place. But it has given us a starting point.

#23 tummypudding

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:34 AM

My DD has recently started at an Anglican school. We are both non-religious and DH actually comes from an Islamic background, but we felt that this school offers the best academic education and pastoral care close to our home so we are willing to put up with the occasional chapel service.

We also felt that basic scriptural knowledge is important for understanding our culture and society, and so she would gain some learning from attending this school which she certainly wouldn't get at home. A lot of literature for example can't be properly understood if you can't pick up on the biblical references.  

I am quite comfortable though with this school's brand of christianity, it is of the stiff-upper-lip, community service oriented, tolerant, slightly old-fashioned variety. I would probably run screaming from anything tending towards the charismatic/happy-clappy.

DD is loving the school, and interestingly, "PRS" (Philosophy and Religious Studies) is her favourite subject - they have a lot of very interesting discussions!

#24 mombasa

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:34 AM

We are not religious at all and made the decision to send our kids to a Christian College in 2010, DD1 is now in year 1 and DD2 is in Prep (Pre-Kindy NSW) for us we are definitely happy with our decision, the school has been wonderful and DD1 who is painfully shy has grown so confident since starting in 2011, she was nurtured and given such wonderful support last year in Kindergarten and received the Academic Prize, I have no doubts that if we sent her to our local school she would have been lost in the crush of the 7 classes just for Kindy. The religion side has been very tame, especially compared to the local Catholic Parish School which our friends chose for their child. I think everyone second guesses their choice when it comes to Schools at least once, I know we have done over the past 2 and a bit years but overall it's a wonderful School and we couldn't be happier.

#25 belindarama

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:50 AM

Having looked at the website I would have reservations if I were you.

They are of an evangelical bent and VERY religion centered. They talk about religious studies needing to be in every subject and just having part of the teaching day given over to a stand alone religion class as this not enough. Whether creationism is taught is probably the least of your concerns IMO. Off the top of my head I would be worried about reproductive rights, homophobia, gender roles and so on.

IME this type of Christian school, independently founded by a group of 'like minded people', is a very different kettle of fish to your average religious school founded by a mainstream Christian church, eg, Catholic or Anglican schools.

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