The Federal Australian Liberal Party Government, with their new proposal, has once again shown that they are completely out of step with modern educational practices. They have stated they wish to, in a ninety million dollar program; give every public school $20,000 so that they can hire a religious chaplain to act as a counselor in ethical and spiritual matters. So what’s wrong with that? Read on for a full explanation…
To begin with, it shows that budget priorities seem to be greatly skewed. Public schools need funds for maintenance, money for more classroom teachers, grants for more equipment and resources. Those are things that schools need to be able to successfully deliver a proper education, things that are quite often missing. Why have a school sporting a leaking roof or aged buildings at all? Common sense dictates that a twenty thousand dollar grant for schools to buy equipment or make repairs to buildings would be a lot more useful than having a pastor/preacher/father/priest/whatever come in to talk about religion.
Religion, simply put, does not belong in the public education system. If one wants learn about the religion of their choice then it needs to be something that is done at home or at a local church. Schools are there to teach children how to think, to teach them skills, to teach them how to be objective and critical thinkers. The last thing the already vastly over worked classroom teachers need right now is to have to correct the falsehoods incorporated into various pieces of religious doctrine.
That is not to say that having counselors in the school environment is a bad thing – just the opposite in fact. Children often experience trauma in their developing years and they sometimes do need professional help in coming to terms with such events and experiences, yet this grant only accommodates for chaplains and will not cover the hiring of professional counselors. Why not? These are people who have had far more training and are far more qualified to handle children’s trauma. If the Government wants to really help children, then direct the $20,000 grants to hiring people who have been properly trained and who are fully qualified to do the job.
The Government also hopes that the Chaplains will be there to help teach values to children. Fantastic, since religious organizations have such a wonderful track record of not fighting and bickering … or burning people at the stake, or helping to shelter pedophiles. In short, believing that religious groups have some sort of monopoly on values and morality in ignorance of a high order. Values, believe it or not, are already part of the curriculum; the Victorian Essential Learning Standards, for example, covers it under the thinking domain. Various other classroom programs, such as ‘You Can Do It!’, also examine areas such as personal values and how best to get along with your peers. Simply put, chaplains aren’t needed to teach such things and they certainly are not the best people to be doing so.
The scheme itself is badly designed to say the least. What about schools that lie in areas that have a wide diversity of religious beliefs? What if a third of the students are Christian, third are Muslim, third are agnostic or atheist? Break it down even further … what if the chaplain is catholic and a number of the students belong to a protestant church? Will Pagans be accommodated under the scheme? How about Scientologists? Oh wait, the Government has stipulated that the grants will only be for mainstream religions that it recognizes and reserves the right to withdraw the grant for chaplains it regards as inappropriate. Very convenient and seems to betray what must be the core motive of the scheme, to assist in indoctrinating young impressionable minds into Christian beliefs instead of getting an objective and rational education.
The scheme is wrong on so many fronts, you could justifiably label it as sickening.