The Growing Faith In Religious Education In Australia

I find this from Australia both encouraging and perplexing at the same time:

Having no religious conviction is increasingly common in Australia. A record 22 per cent of the country indicated as much in the 2011 census.

Yet the popularity of religious schools is increasing. Enrollments in independent and Catholic schools are growing faster than at public schools, increasing by about 1.8 per cent in 2012, compared with 1.2 per cent for public schools, according to recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Encouraging because I believe that any contact with religious faith, no matter how tangential, helps a person fully understand life even if they aren’t “religious”- perplexing because these “non-religious” parents can’t see that it is the very religious faith and its moral code that makes the difference between these church affiliated private schools and the undisciplined, mass production focused public schools based on secular humanism.

Look at some of the reasons that they state for sending their kids to religious schools:

”What they were trying to choose was a non-public school because they were disaffected with public schools, one way or the other,” she says.

In Australia, almost all private schools have some religious affiliation. The choice is often akin to a”cost-benefit analysis”, she says. ”The benefit was that it’s a private school – it’s got good facilities, good academic results, nice new buildings and the cost might be that it’s a bit religious.”

John (not his real name), a Sydney father and lapsed Catholic, says he and his wife had their three children baptised for the sole reason that it may eventually help them secure a place at a Catholic high school.

”Philosophically, we would prefer to have a secular government education for our children,” he says. But John says he would not send his son to the local public boys’ high school, which he believes has a poor reputation, particularly where discipline is concerned. He feels his son will perform better academically at a private school.

”I don’t necessarily want them to have a religious education, that troubles me a little bit,” John says.

This parent doesn’t “want them to have a religious education” and yet he wants the discipline, the social awareness, the safety and the performance of a school that has a foundation in religious faith and teaches according to the tenets of those religions.

Attending a religious school does have an effect on the student:

The experience gave him a respect for religion and made him question his atheism, he says.

”I went in an atheist but came out an agnostic,” Sharp says.

Progress sometimes is measured in inches, I guess…

One thought on “The Growing Faith In Religious Education In Australia

  1. I went to Catholic schools until college and if I had the power I would abolish all teachers unions and all public grammar schools and replace them with Catholic schools. As a kid I thought it would be nice to attend a school with less rigorous academic standards, but by college I was thanking my folks for doing the best thing for my education. Many kids from public schools had to take make up classes while I had a head start because after I completed 10th grade at my Catholic girls school I only needed 2 more classes to graduate by state standards. So, my last 2 years of high school were spent taking college level classes making me better prepared for college.

    Even more important than academics was the disciplinary aspects of the nuns. There was a great deal of tragedy and upheaval in my life when I was 14 and I could have made some serious mistakes in those years, but the sisters never gave an inch. Every time I stepped out of line they quietly and firmly pushed me back and it made all the difference in my life. If you want the best for your child, not the easiest, but the best, you can’t beat a Catholic school education.

    Many years ago I spent time volunteering at an inner city high school and during a teachers meeting we were all asked “how did your High School handle tough disciplinary problems?” My answer “we didn’t really have discipline problems, the nuns wouldn’t allow it”.

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