Monday, November 5, 2012

Religion in Schools - opportunities for debate or muzzling it

Community Engagement

A big trip to the US to participate in the electoral process has been cancelled. 

School trip cancelled amid pro-choice controversy

Nov. 2 – Two days before dozens of students from an Ottawa Catholic high school were scheduled to go to Ohio to help “Get out the vote” for the U.S. election, the field trip has been cancelled following a storm of controversy on an anti-abortion website. An article posted to characterized the teacher organizing the trip for St. Peter students as pro-Obama — and, therefore, pro-choice. 

Yikes. As if this one plank in Obama's platform colours the entire trip. It would have been an opportunity of a lifetime. It is important to encourage young people to think, reflect, debate and vote. This way they will turn into adults who care.

Anti-abortion website sparks cancellation of high school trip

Nov. 3 – Students from St. Peter High School and St. Matthew Catholic High School ... The field trip included lectures at Youngstown State University and a chance to participate in the political process,” said St. Peter principal Norma McDonald.

Joel Westheimer, in an interview on CBC Radio, is so right. We should encourage debate, discourse, discussion. Unfortunately, Canadians do not like to rant. And we continue to fund Catholic schools that continue to inculcate students in Catholic dogma. My husband grew up in a Catholic community where you were not taught to think, you were taught to memorize. This is why they didn't print the Bible in languages the congregants could read. 
There is no place for contention and controversy in the Catholic system, and this is why it is so dangerous. Some families send their kids to protect them from the real world, where they are anti-gay, anti-choice. Others send them to Catholic schools to escape the heavily loaded special needs students, the kids with serious learning disabilities, or mental health issues in the public system.
December Celebrations from around the World

I had a student abandon my special needs class for the Catholic school. They handed her a wafer during mass. "This is the body of Christ."
"Yeah, right," she responded. She was expelled from the school and ended up in a foster home in the long run. That is the Catholic school system.

I enjoyed hosting a good debate in my classrooms, but I taught in public education where all students were entitled to an opinion. I do remember talking with the kids about death and dying when a young sibling of a student passed away naturally.

One Muslim student told us he thought it was a good thing, since the very ill child did not commit suicide. However, his uncle was a suicide bomber, and that was OK, too. This is what they were taught in their Saturday Arabic schools. I jumped in and told him that that wasn't acceptable in Canada.

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