LETTER: Education differs from instruction

I FIND it sad that Cheryl Jones thinks it appropriate to allow poorly trained religious volunteers into public schools (‘‘Tolerance is a two-way street’’ Letters 18/6), and disingenuous of her to claim that the current opt-out system is the same as voluntary attendance.

Children whose parents decide to opt them out of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) classes often feel segregated and excluded, and they waste half an hour of valuable school time every week, which already overworked principals then have to provide teacher supervision for.

Ms Jones claims that SRI ‘‘teaches children that Jesus loves them and died for them’’ and then in the same breath says that it does not teach controversial topics. Well it mightn’t be controversial to her, but to the five billion people on the planet who aren’t Christians I suspect it is.

I’m also sure that children can learn to be ‘‘kind’’ without colouring in pictures of Noah’s Ark, singing worship songs or other such ‘‘busy work’’.

Religious education and religious instruction are two very different things. SRI (scripture) teachers are in no way qualified to teach about comparative religion, and teaching children that they are inherently sinners is in my opinion, a form of child abuse.

Peter Rowney,

Lemon Tree Passage

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