Useful And Fantastic: Best Possible Education
Parents desire the best possible education for their children in classes of above-average peers, without disturbing elements. They want top facilities and environments and choice of schools, and to be trained there in the parents’ religion and culture.
Segregated schooling produces consequences which the children later have to cope with as adults.
The answers for parents’ desires could be met within public education.
We could put great efforts into reducing the problem of disturbing children – by classroom methods and by treating the environmental and social problems that produce disturbed children.
We could have choice of public schools within an area, with some contribution by parents themselves, and independence of principals.
We could give ALL schools top facilities and environments.
We could make teaching a top-status profession, attracting top-status people, ready to take on difficult challenges.
We could make all the environments of the city fit for our children and their parents to live in.
Children should learn their parents’ religion and culture from their parents and their places of worship if any – church, temple, mosque, etc. At school they could learn about other religions, and non-religions.
Parents need to be aware of the results of school segregation for the adult lives of their children. This can be far more serious than all the desires that make parents seek to keep their children segregated. Look at other countries.
I saw Northern Ireland and the results of their schooling. I saw Australia when we only had Catholic schooling as a distinctive schooling – apart from schooling for the rich. Australia has had its own experiences of how Catholic-Protestant hostility and mutual ignorance has been promoted by separate schooling for the frogs and dogs of Micks and Prods. In Collingwood, then a slum suburb of Melbourne, we had children’s religious wars around our home. “Yah! Yah! You don’t believe in God!” “Yah, yah, Catholic dogs jump like frogs!” “Sister says you’ll go to hell!”
This situation changed with all the immigration in the 1950s, and Catholic schools were open to all. Turkish parents brought their children. “We all believe in the same God, Allah,” although they really meant they thought the Catholic schools had better discipline than the state schools. Catholic schools often had more non-Catholics than Catholics.
The fear and hatred dissipated. The migrants did not have the old Catholic-Protestant fighting traditions.
The situation now is more dangerous. Catholic schools are reverting to being almost entirely for children of Catholics. Other faiths are setting up their own schools. Jewish children used to go to Protestant schools, and when they grew up, they had links with non-Jewish schoolmates. Now they have their own. All sorts of fringe Christians and every other religion are setting up their own schools.
Within those schools, however much harmony they claim, there is ‘religious’ teaching that they are the only truth, and outsiders are heretics.
The children get this teaching at home, at their places of worship, and at their schools. Seven days a week. They do not learn about other people and other ways of life within their society.
This is dangerous. Here are the possibilities of fanaticism and fear of others.
We see what happens overseas. In Britain, some religions are like a state within a state, with their own laws competing with the national laws, and the people only interacting with each other. ‘UnBritish’ practices like sharia and oppression of women flourish in them. The religionists learn nothing to make them British, except insofar as they watch TV – which can put them off.
And the terrible thing about it is that the government facilitates this segregation with financial support for establishing and maintaining these schools, in order to curry favour with parents and religious leaders.
And among other things, in Australia this means that the government has less money to spend on public schools, to make them more attractive and diverse, because taxpayers' money for education is also shared with independent and faith schools. Parents indeed pay to send their children to independent and faith schools, but government money also goes to these schools. Both the Coalition and ALP support this practice. This helps to make these schools more desirable.
Parents must realise what continuing this segregation will mean for their children in the future.