Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Faith Schools

 Faith Schools

I note that the atheist religious evangelist Richard Dawkins in on Channel 4 again complaining about faith schools and telling us in superior and somewhat condescending tones about how divisive they are to the community.

I also note that in these presentations and debates there are underlying assumptions that are never mentioned, and I therefore suppose do not exist, at least that is the conclusion to which I am expected to be drawn.

But think about it for a moment, not about the premise of whether Richard Dawkins might be right or wrong, but consider what he does not tell us in his programme, or does not allow us to ask. He simply makes the bold statement, 'faith schools cause community division', as if that is the root cause of all division.

Where I live, post codes cause community division; there are young people I know that won’t move from one post code area to another as they fear they will be beaten up.

Then there are people who live in ‘posh areas’, who divide themselves from those live in the ‘not so posh’ areas. Is that community division?

I did not go to a faith school, I went to an ordinary secondary school, we wore green blazers, the school up the road wore red blazers, and the two groups had fights and divided the community.  There are many things that divide communities, money, housing, blazers, music, clothes, skin colour, accent, language, post codes, and I’m sure you could add to my list. Whilst it suits Mr. Dawkins spurious agenda to highlight faith schools as divisive, the division of community is a deep and complex problem, and his opposition to faith schools is, or course, deeper and more complex.  If his proposed atheist schools go ahead, will they be divisive?

During his Channel 4 programme he states, ‘these faith schools indoctrinate children’.  He makes it sound like a wicked thing, to indoctrinate children.  It is implied that we have no right to give children a view on the world, to tell them things are right or wrong.  The manner in which he says it leaves us with the impression that we have all agreed that indoctrinating children is wrong.

On the subject of indoctrination, which I have thought about a lot because people like Mr. Dawkins would always accuse me of doing it, are you really convinced that non faith schools don’t indoctrinate children, about anything?  That all teachers have no world view, no opinions, and pass on to the children pure, unadulterated, unbiased teaching on every subject. Please!  Whatever areas children are exposed to there will always be an element of indoctrination, it’s unavoidable, and none of us have the privilege of a totally blank sheet.

In schools you often hear the phrase ‘the hidden curriculum’ this refers to things that are not written down, they are not in the year plan, not on the lesson plans, not in the text books but nevertheless are real and apply to the ethos, values and world view of the staff and administration, and will be evident and filtered down to the children.

I’ll give you a couple of examples, these are from my own experience with my own children, from two of their schools, and both were English grammar exercises, with the request to ‘re-write this sentence correcting grammar, spelling and punctuation.’

Sentence one – jesus went around doing good and healing the sick in irael for around 3 years.

Sentence two - when i got home from school i found my boyfriend john in bed with another girl  

No hidden curriculum there then, and no indoctrination.

In my opinion, Richard Dawkins is a religious atheistic fundamentalist, and he wants to indoctrinate us all to his point of view.  I strongly believe that he should have the right to try, but I know from my email post bag that there are those who share his view, who if they had the power, would not want to extend that right to me, they would, as one of them put it, ‘silence me’ if they could.  I wonder why they do not want me to have the same right to speak out and indoctrinate and influence as they would want for themselves, and I, of course, want them to retain.

Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian’s Blog:
20th August 2010
W. 732
Editor A. Brookes

Faith Schools - the big current issues next up on my Blog www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Back in London! Have - Just for fun have a look at my Blog 'A funny thing happened on the way to the Theatre' www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Monday, 23 August 2010

A Funny Thing Happened to me on the way to the Theatre

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theatre 

I thought you would enjoy this, and if I turn it into a short story and stick it on Amazon, perhaps they will pay me commission when you buy it.

But I am running ahead of myself; let me start at the beginning.

In the early 1970’s my family moved to London to lead two congregations for a particular denomination. Samantha, one of the young ladies in the church, said to my wife, ‘I’ve got two tickets for Godspell, which you come with me to see it?’

Pauline is never one to say no to a freebie, so whilst I stayed at home to baby-sit, they headed off to the west end.

During the show the audience was invited to join the cast on stage in a on stage communion service. Pauline and Samantha were far away up in the balcony; a steward explained that to go to the stage they would have to leave the theatre and re-enter by the stage door.

Both of them were keen to join in the fun and left the theatre in search of the stage door.  In the west end, the theatres huddle together cheek by jowl. As they tried to enter the stage door they found themselves confronted by two burly bouncers who would not let them in, Pauline got into a heated and noisy debate with the men, to no avail.  The ladies eventually discovered they were trying to enter the wrong theatre; they had been attempting to join Diana Rigg on stage in Pygmalion. 

The following evening we were out for dinner with my old friends Dan and Norma Wooding of ASSIST News.  During the evening Pauline told Dan what had happened to her and Samantha at the theatre, and Dan, being the eternal journalist and at the time freelancing for the London press, asked permission to create some copy with their escapade.  Pauline shrugged and said, ‘why not, go for it!’ Neither of us thought any more about it.

The following week the daily papers began carrying the story, and many of our friends called us when they saw it in their paper of choice.  The largest spread was in the Daily Express and it even appeared in the notorious Private Eye.

A detail you need to be aware of, in the opinion of the denomination for which I was working, going to the theatre was frowned upon as a ‘worldly experience’ to be avoided at all cost, especially by the wives of ministers. Not, I should add, a view that I personally subscribed to.
Two weeks later I had a phone call from the denomination head quarters, the big boss wanted to meet with me. I received no explanation as to why, only the summons.  I headed off to HQ and received a dressing down for not keeping my wife under control, and was informed that my potential as a future ‘world leader’ was being jeopardised by such lax behaviour.  I was then given a generous payment to cover my expenses and I headed home.

At that time, in the early seventies, women’s roles were blurred and unformed, but one thing was clear, their place was at home, and my job, as the minister was not to be doing the baby sitting. Unfortunately, the attitude still lingers in some areas.  Pauline was exceedingly miffed at not being able to put her side of the story. To soften it, I took the family out for dinner with the expenses.

Six months later I had a call from my good friend Dr. Phil Moor, prior to a recent train journey he had purchased a book by Stephen Pile entitled Heroic Failures. The author, who classes himself as a failed writer had decided to compile a list of failures and turn it into a book, which went on to become a best seller, and made him a lot of money. Phil told me that Pauline’s failed attempt to get onto the stage of Godspell was one of the stories in the book.

Thanks Dan, someone made some money from Pauline’s story, all I got was a reprimand! 

For Adrian’s Blog
Editor: A. Brookes

Monday, 16 August 2010

Foster Care and Refugees

PCC Fostering and care for Refugees.

Pauline was watching the news one day when she saw a clip about a Norwegian ship which had picked up a crowd of drowning refugees off the coast of Australia.  The Australian government at the time would not allow them to land and some of them died.

Pauline was very angry about the injustice of it all and wanted to do something about it. To cut a long story short out of that event, with the support of Rainbow Churches, a new company was born called Phoenix Community Care Ltd (PCC). This company then began talking with the local authorities about the possibility of helping with refuges in the UK.  We were welcomed with open arms as the need was and still is, great.  In our area the Muslims were very supportive right from the beginning, they already had 9 homes, and they were incredibly helpful to us with advice on initial set up.

Ten years ago the PCC began work with its first home, decorated and donated by Carla Mayer. Ten years on we can house 30+ in our own properties with support workers caring for both 16 and 17 year old unaccompanied minors (young people in the UK without parents or guardians). We also care for 18+ year olds who are considered vulnerable, often young ladies escaping from war and rape situations. Alongside this we have added the housing and support care of those who have been in the care system but whom the authority deem not quite ready for total self-support.

Some years ago we recognised that foster care was also needed for youngsters in the country without parents, and after being registered as foster care agency, a long, complex and difficult process, we began to foster a young person of around 9 years old, who could not speak English and had been found by the Police after wandering around in a Supermarket for many hours, now happily placed with good foster parents by the PCC agency.  

My cry is can you do something as well? Since the events surrounding Baby P and the latest child death recorded by Birmingham Social Services, social workers are unwilling to take any risks and at the time of writing there are some 4,000 children who need foster carers but for whom there is no foster carer.  Could you volunteer? Could you be a foster carer? Many people want to but think they couldn’t do it, well you just might be able to. Usually our first question, as an agency, to a prospective foster carer is, have you got a spare room?  That wasn’t a hard question was it?  Well can you help? Please phone us on 020 8887 6888 and if not us there is probably another local agency or your local authority.  To get a lot done all it needs is for a lot of good people do a little.

Adrian Hawkes
For the Insight Magazine
Editor: A. Brookes
28th July 2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Fostering and care for Refugees. will be the next up on my Blog but you should check out the current one

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Asking the Wrong Questions

Asking the wrong questions
When you ask the wrong question of course you will not get the right answer.  
How can the question be wrong, I hear you say.  Sometimes people just don’t think; let me show you what I mean. 
London Evening Standard Tuesday 27th July 2010 P ippa Crerar says ‘I don’t want to find God to find a good school’.   It is, perhaps, a rhetorical question, and she goes on to say she doesn’t want to go to church to get her child into a good school, but she is obviously worried about the local schooling.
Here is a question that she doesn’t ask, and maybe she should, ‘Why are Christian schools or church schools better than the others?’  Answers could include; selection, size, and parental involvement. 
Here however are some other answers, things that perhaps we don’t so easily come up with in our sound-bite, cynical age. How about a comprehensive world view, an understanding of a moral base, an insight into good and evil, an awareness of the essentials of not just ‘knowledge’ but ‘character’ and even more than that ‘wisdom’, where does that come from?
Interestingly, plans to set up atheist schools in the United Kingdom could soon be given the green light by the British government, or so it seems according to a report by Assist News July 29th 2010. It says:
Education Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea as part of reforms to his department.
The move comes after high profile anti-faith campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins suggested the idea, Premier Radio said. Ann Widdecombe, the Former Home Secretary who is also a believer, “said it is not something that should be opposed.”
She told Premier Radio: "If you can set up faith schools, then I think quite obviously you must also be allowed to set up a school that will cater for people whose parents are bringing them up specifically to have no faith."
Widdecombe added: "I think it is a great pity if somebody is brought up that way, but our job is to win those people over, not to look to the law to do it for us."
It is interesting to think of atheists setting up schools, I am not aware of many hospitals, orphanages, opposition to injustice groups that they have set up so far.  Perhaps they do not understand the nature of thought, what we think is ultimately how we act, if I think I am an animal does it surprise anyone that I might act like one.  If I think there is no point to life, why should I care, why should I not be depressed and suicidal?  If I think it’s just all mechanical like one great machine, why not treat my fellow human beings like a cog in the wheel.  On the other hand if I think there is a law-giver, an ultimate reckoning day, and a purpose to my being here that will affect my thinking and my dealings with the rest of humanity.

John Newton, the famous reformed slave trader, preacher and hymn writer and of fairly recent film fame, captured the elemental truths of transformation when he penned "Amazing Grace."  The International teacher and author, Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) hits the nail on the head when he describes man as "lost and dead." He explained, "Jesus did not come to make bad people good; He came to make DEAD people LIVE."
I have met modern people like John Newton, I have a friend who was once a rebel fighter, he could list all the women, children and men he had killed, when I met him I thought he was a mad man.  Then he found God, bit of an easy cliché to say that, but when you see a messy life changed, new thinking found and actually death into life discovered you know the difference. The cynic and atheist can say all that they like, but I say, show me!   When you see their new concern for others, good citizenship, and a life that is progressive and enriched you know something special has taken place, there is this new passion for the life they now have.
 Richard Dawkins said to me that he was more moral than me as I needed a God not to pillage and rape, kill and burn, murder and so on.   My answer was “good for you; you need to watch the news more.”
So maybe Pippa Crerar in her future journalism could ask some more questions as to why these schools that have God seem to have better education.  Ask the right questions!
Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian’s Blog
30th July 2010
Editor : A. Brookes
W. 784

Monday, 2 August 2010

Latest: London Evening Standard complaint by Pippa Crerar ‘I don’t want to find God to find a good school’. Then atheist schools in the United Kingdom could soon be given the green light by the British government, or so it seems according to Assist News July 29th 2010:
Education Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea as part of reforms to his department.
I say on www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com Tuesday 3rd Aug 10
What do you think?
Latest: London Evening Standard complaint by Pippa Crerar ‘I don’t want to find God to find a good school’. Then atheist schools in the United Kingdom could soon be given the green light by the British government, or so it seems according to Assist News July 29th 2010:
Education Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea as part of reforms to his department.
I say on www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com Tuesday 3rd Aug 10
What do you think?