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Archive for March, 2010

Mothering Sunday

20/03/2010 2 comments

Having been attending church for a while now, I am building up a short list of occasions when not to attend. Principal among these is Easter: all that blood-sacrifice stuff gets a bit much at this festival.

I’m adding Mothering Sunday to the list. I thought it would be along the lines of nice little homilies on Motherhood – something none of us can really object to. However, it turned out to be a lot of nonsense about our “Mother Church”. Usually Christianity seems to go in for full-on patriarchy (“Our Father”, etc) but, like a Thought for the Day presenter shoe-horning Jesus into the latest football score, they seem keen to explain how the Church is like our Mother. And Jesus had a Mother as well, did you know.

It was all pretty awful and made worse by the fact that we had to turn to a stranger and hug them at some point. The only saving grace was that we were accompanied by one of the in-laws who, although she doesn’t attend church herself, thinks it is a good thing that we do and that our children will go to a faith school. A classic case of what Dan Dennett calls “believing in belief”.

I am glad to report that she was as embarrassed as we were by the whole thing. Hopefully, she’ll be a bit quieter about the joys of church-going in future!

Lawson’s Guff

04/03/2010 4 comments

I wouldn’t like this Blog, whatever it’s merits or lack of them, to become a place to point out the nonsense about faith schools spouted in the newspapers (usually the Telegraph) but I was struck by this article in The Independent by Dominic Lawson.

It really is an object lesson in how to miss the point. It seems that Mr Lawson has seen a well-run Catholic School so he argues that this makes all faith schools good.

  • He notes the picture of the Pope in the hall and links this to children standing up in class – with little evidence.
  • He states that the social mix, whilst not as disadvantaged as the local surrounding community schools, is not enough to explain the better results of the Catholic school. The evidence is really not on his side, and he is on the verge of admitting it.
  • He covers his lack of evidence with some assertions about the discipline in school against the undisciplined family backgrounds of some pupils. Again, this is just the opinion of the Headmaster who, I would guess, will have limited knowledge of the family backgrounds of children in the area who don’t attend his school.
  • He quotes the research on Ofsted and Community Cohesion which has been largely criticized (including by me).

With the exception of the last point, he is still generalising from one good school with attribute A to assume that all schools with attribute A must also be good. He makes the concession that there are probably some good non-A schools. He does not consider A attribute schools that are not good – although presumably there are some. All this would lead most of us to conclude that there is a lot more to good schools than A-ness or the lack of it. But not, it would seem, when you are Dominic Lawson and the A attribute is religion.

Perhaps Mr Lawson should look at this school and see what generalisations he can make?