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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » The Bible in School? Heaven Forbid!

The Bible in School? Heaven Forbid!

Teaching the Bible as a story

Andrew Motion, soon to be headed back to actually writing (see below), has called for all children to be taught “the Bible”, whatever the hell that means these days. As an relatively atheist (I know, like being “a little bit pregnant”) poet, I agree. It’s just essential to understanding any history (and present) of Western culture. Just don’t do it the way it was done to me — Irish Protestantism translated to southern Ontario in a Baptist church in Brampton. I still shudder. I know that religious study is often part of successful secular private school (e.g. Waldorf) philosophies, but I wonder how practical it is to teach these things in a classroom setting over the years.

My school has a Humanities program in which we have to study quite a bit of religious text as literature. I just took a quiz on the book of Genesis (We’re studying Judaism right now) earlier this week.

Even as an atheist I’m not opposed to the curriculum. Most literature from ancient times are religious in nature and are the basis for most modern (as opposed to contemporary) work. The fact that early/ancient religious texts are key to cultural understanding is also important. And understanding how the structure of the religious text came to being from the cultural/historic angle is important too.

But studying the theological aspects non-objectively (which, trust me, at least one student has unsuccessfully attempted) is rubbish in a secular educational environment. And besides that, much of the stories and damned entertaining. Job has been one of my favorite stories for many years (especially with the knowledge that his supposed reward was tacked onto the end of the story later – what’s interesting about Job is that it’s not a story of testing faith, but of YHWH exerting his utter dominance over man).

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