As this is Humanist Week I thought I would mention a couple of news stories appearing on the British Humanist Association's website, both relating to the education of our children:
Teaching of evolution - In a joint letter to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, twenty-six of the UK’s top scientists and science educators, including three Nobel laureates, have called upon the Government to protect and promote science in the school curriculum, with the specific inclusion of evolution in the primary curriculum. The letter was organised after key reforms to the primary curriculum, which included evolution for the first time, were dropped just before the election.
The new government has, in its more general education programme, also announced that it will ensure ‘all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum’. The British Humanist Association (BHA) is concerned that this will mean that there will be less evolution taught in schools and a greater risk that some schools, particularly ‘faith schools’ may try to introduce creationism into the science classroom.
Contrary to popular belief, evolution is not a theory, it is a fact, long-since proved by an enormous body of evidence. It is the central concept underlying biology, and should therefore be included in the science curriculum in all schools. Creationism (and, come to that, so-called 'intelligent design'), on the other hand, is not science, and accordingly has no place in the science curriculum.
Faith schools - Meanwhile, in a formal response to a parliamentary question on “faith schools” admissions, the government has made clear it does not intend to prevent current or new faith schools from discriminating in their admissions. This is extremely disturbing. As Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, comments:
"The government’s statement makes clear that religious discrimination in admissions is here to stay, going against what was implied in the Coalition Agreement, and against an explicit Liberal Democrat policy, that no new schools would be able to discriminate in admissions. State-funded “faith schools” which discriminate in their admissions are hugely unrepresentative of their local areas, dividing up children and communities along religious, socio-economic and often ethnic lines, creating huge social problems now and in the future".
We are not allowed to discriminate in other areas of life, why on Earth should schools be allowed to do so? In any event, surely it is more important now than ever that we should promote integration, rather than division?