WATERCOOLER: Is there value in religious education?

MATTER OF FAITH: Perhaps it was the super cool colouring-in books the RE teacher let us play with for the last five minutes that made me so spiritually invigorated.
MATTER OF FAITH: Perhaps it was the super cool colouring-in books the RE teacher let us play with for the last five minutes that made me so spiritually invigorated.

RELIGION class was always one of my favourites at primary school.

Perhaps it was the super cool colouring-in books the RE teacher let us play with for the last five minutes that made me so spiritually invigorated.

Perhaps it was the fun songs we sang instead of checking the maths homework I hadn't completed.

Or perhaps - and yes, this one is most likely - it was the sheer sense of relief I felt when I had even the slightest break from being taught by one of my parents.

Seriously, wasn't home enough for them?

But for the poor Victorian students of today, these simple pleasures will no longer be the brilliant reality they once were.

Last week, the Victorian Government axed religious education classes in favour of classes to boost skills in developing healthy relationships.

Let's just forget for a moment that that really seems like something that falls to the parents.

Let's also forget that the very existence of school itself kind of gives us those skills anyway.

Basically, let's forget that anyone even suggested we get rid of religious education for good.

I'm not even saying an emphasis on healthy relationships isn't a good idea.

With issues such as domestic violence and child abuse reaching frightening levels, education from a young age can hardly be a bad thing.

I'm just a tad concerned we are undervaluing the potential benefits of religious education.

I'm not particularly religious.

I agree that it's up to the individual to make up their mind on such issues based on personal beliefs.

But that's not what this is about.

This is about education. And be it a result of the way it is sometimes taught or a result of sceptical parents' uncertainty as to what is being taught, that is a very different thing to indoctrination.

I was educated in science classes too, but that hasn't made science a definitive part of my being.

To be fair, the Victorian Government did point out that only 20% of students have actually been attending RE.

Heck. That's only a fifth.

But if something is broken, isn't it better to fix it than throw it out?

By simply succumbing to public pressure, the Victorian Government is basically giving up on a form of education with much more value than it probably realises.

Should other states follow Victoria's lead and axe religious education in schools?

This poll ended on 13 January 2016.

Current Results





I'm undecided


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

I agree that religious classes in schools should not be akin to Sunday School.

Unless a child is actually being sent to a religion-specific school, those teachings are a thing of the past in an education setting.

But religious education - by its very definition - should not be about one particular religion. It's education ... on religion. It should be about all of them.

We may be a nation founded on Christian beliefs, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones we should be educated on.

Put simply, religious education - done right - has the ability to make a genuine contribution to not only our kids ... but society as a whole.

As human beings from differing backgrounds with differing beliefs and values, that is simply not possible.

But just imagine a world where we could all at least respect those differing beliefs and values.

Education is the only way we can make that happen.

What do you think about this?

Do you think there is value in religious education in schools?

Join our daily watercooler by leaving a comment below.

What you're saying on Facebook:

Michelle Waterhouse: "I think if you want your child to learn about religion, send them to a religious school. There's no need for it in public schools. Axe it all together."

Helen Sharp: "If the child attends a religious school it is a mandatory subject, right up to year 12, having it taught in a religious school is, acceptable, but what of the other schools? I think religion is a personal thing, and teaching it as part of a school program is encroaching an opinion onto a child. Why not teach children to read, write, and mathematics before considering adding religion!"

Jaimee Lee Bidwell: "Honestly, kids shouldn't be taught religion by anyone until they're old enough to make an informed decision. I don't think the belief of parents and schools should be pushed onto a child. They are their own person, let them make up their own mind."

David Porter: "I think there should be educations on all religions in public schools. Atheism and Agnosticism should also be taught in schools. I only have a problem with religious education in Public Schools when only one form is taught and, as a result of elimination, recommended."

Claire Smith: "My son goes to a Catholic school, he is doing religion as an OP subject. He not only learns about Christianity but ALL religions. He has a good understanding and,therefore, respect of what others believe. Education brings understanding which brings tolerance."

Luke Ryan: "I certainly dont want my kids wasting their time at school learning about imaginary friends. Religion has killed more people on this planet then anything else through religious wars that still rage on today. Thats at fact. Religion is just a form of segregation based on nonsense to give males power over females amongst other things. Hope it is totally wiped from public school system."

Rachel McNaughton: "Most religious education in schools teaches kids about good morals and values not pushing any particular religion onto a child!! God knows that there are plenty of people in this town that could use a lesson morals and values,"

Geoff Campbell: "Kids are coming out of schools not knowing how to read or write properly, so I can assure you that the current top people in the education department better be glad their jobs aren't performance dependent, or they'd be out on the street. Why is it that politicians and ministers can totally screw things up, and we all see it, yet they keep their high-paid jobs?"

Nicole Cuff: "I don't think school is the place for indoctrination!! But I am all for educating and treating a child holistically and if that means incorporating faith to enrich their day, so be it. I know my boys enjoy their RE classes and I feel they get a lot out of it."

Caitlin Burchill: "I did Studies of Religion at school, and found it quite interesting. It was about the history of the religions and the way they practice, rather than being taught scripture like in our alternative Religious Education. I went to a Catholic school so had to do a form of religious study. I wouldn't say I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there were enjoyable aspects, and visiting a Buddhist temple was high on that list. With Australia being a multicultural society, with members of our community being part of different religions, I found it relevant."

Tracey Butcher: "No not in many different types of Religion's to accommodate them all..Religion should in own time not school."

Tanya Denning: "There should be a class on etiquette instead of religion."

Lorraine Skewes: "Look im not a religious person at all. But i really dont think it does any harm to have an RI. Class at schools. May help some kids to be more considerate ti others. Just my opinion."

Topics:  editors picks education religion

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