9th Dec, 2007

Philosopher Stephen Law discussing religious education

There’s a very good discussion going on over at Stephen Law’s blog on religious education.   The discussion began when Law quoted Ibrahim Lawson (IL (a Muslim)), who used to be (I think) headteacher of Nottingham Islamia School, in a post on the dangers of religion.  Below is an extract of Law’s post:

“When I spoke about the potential dangers of faith schools on Radio 4’s Today programme, a member of one of the Standing Advisory Comms. on Religious Education contacted me to say, “Thank goodness you’re bringing this up.” He regularly goes into schools and is horrified by what he sees. And he’s a Christian. If you’re not worried about what’s going on in some religious schools, you should be. Here’s a brief excerpt from a Radio 4 interview with Ibrahim Lawson, head of an Islamic school:

[t]he essential purpose of the Islamia school as with all Islamic schools is to inculcate profound religious belief in the children.

ER: You use the word “inculcate”: does that mean you are in the business of indoctrination?
IL: I would say so, yes; I mean we are quite unashamed about that really…
ER: Does that mean that Islam is a given and is never challenged?
IL: That’s right…One of the key safeguards religious schools need to have in place is a critical culture. My own view is schools like Ibrahim Lawson’s should no longer be tolerated, let alone be state funded.”

What I find shocking here is that Lawson is really quite comfortable with the idea that children should be indoctrinate into Islam and without question.  Of course, Lawson isn’t the first religious person to hold this view and probably won’t be the last.  This is yet another reason why education should be secularised. 

Anyway, Ibrahaim Lawson replied to Stephen Law on Law’s blog and the debate is developing right now.  Check it out here.  Get Stephen Law’s book The War For Children’s Minds here (UK) or here (US).