Category : Education

(Observer) Bullying claims at Oxford ‘medieval fiefdom’ take toll on reformist dean

It is a quintessential institution of the establishment, producing 13 British prime ministers, 10 chancellors of the exchequer and 17 archbishops. Among its former students are King Edward VII, Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll and WH Auden. One fictional alumnus, Lord Sebastian Flyte, came to personify its privileges in the pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

But Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most venerable colleges, was plunged into turmoil last week when its dean was suspended from duties and barred from taking services at his own cathedral after being challenged under archaic and opaque rules.

A formal complaint has been filed against the Very Rev Martyn Percy with the college’s governing body. Few people know details of what is being alleged, or who is behind the move. Even Percy is largely in the dark, according to his friends.

The complaint is believed to centre on issues of governance; no one is suggesting improper personal conduct. It will be heard by a tribunal, which could dismiss Percy. A date for a hearing is yet to be set.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(KQED) Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom

After class was over, we sat down to discuss my observations. The first thing she said was, “Oh no, what a horrible day. I am so exhausted. Sorry you had to watch that.” I was flabbergasted because I didn’t really think it was that bad at all. “Jane, I was actually about to tell you what a wonderful class you have.” She was shocked. “Really? What do you mean? Carl and Joey were constantly bickering and bothering the other students. It was really getting on my nerves.” I told her that I thought their behavior was pretty normal for that age and that I noticed so many wonderful learning moments that their disruptions seemed minor. I also explained the negative attribution bias.

She was astonished to learn that she had focused so much on the few challenging students that she had missed out on celebrating the many joyful learning moments that had occurred. I offered a practice to help her change this habit. “Each day, after your class is over, write down all the good things that happened that day. You can even include your students in this process by putting up a paper on the wall and inviting everyone to write good things that happen each day. At the end of the day, look at the list with the class and review them.”

She took to this suggestion with relish and created a whole bulletin board devoted to this activity. At the top she put “GOOD THINGS HAPPEN” in large, colorful letters. Students were invited to write and draw about good things that happened on small pieces of paper that were posted each day. To her surprise, the first day there were 15 good things posted and more than half of them had been written by the students. Furthermore, Carl and Joey got excited about this activity and wanted to be part of making good things happen. Jane realized that this was an opportunity for encouraging their pro-social behavior. She began catching them when they were doing the right thing, rather than being constantly alert to their tendencies to get in trouble. Reinforcing their positive behavior with recognition made a big difference, and soon they were as engaged as the rest of her students….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Psychology

Archbp Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced by the Hawke Government and, regrettably, relegated religious freedom to the unsatisfactory category of an exemption. In other words, it legislated the rights of schools to discriminate. This was never asked for by church leaders and has always been considered by us as tantamount to marginalising religious freedom. Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expectation recognises the rights of organisations to hire staff who uphold their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

In 1984, the categories for the exemptions were ‘sex, marital status and pregnancy’. However, in 2013, the Gillard Government decided to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex and relationship status’ as new protected attributes. There was good reason for inserting these new areas of prohibited discrimination in the body of the Act, but the way it was done was inept. The fact that the Sex Discrimination Act has, on average, been amended by Parliament once every year for over thirty years, speaks volumes.

So when the Heads of our Anglican Schools wrote their Open Letter, the subject at hand–stated quite clearly–was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordance with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all students….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(The Australian) Archbishop Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

…when the heads of our Anglica­n schools wrote their open letter, the subject at hand — stated quite clearly — was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordan­ce with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all ­students.

However, the publication of the open letter has poured a vat of vitrio­l upon the heads of some of the most respected schools in the country. Reaction to gossip across social media has galvanised signatures on petitions for a cause with which the heads of schools are in fundamental agreement.

The open letter’s reference to retaining the exemptions (for exampl­e, allowing single-sex schools to enrol only students of one sex) was in response to a bill from the Australian Greens, which sought to delete the entire section. Besides, for 35 years this has not been an issue in the public sphere, despite our own criticism of the lack of a positive protection for religious freedom. Yet any fair reading will reveal that the thrust of the letter was to advance the case for protecting religious freedom for Anglican schools in particular, and across the educational sector as a whole, including schools of different faiths and those of no faith.

I commend the heads for their courage in sending this message to the members of federal parliament. I also commend them for their resilience in the face of such stringent opposition and mis­understanding from some alumni of their schools, who have simply missed the point. Given the misleading nature of the “exemptions” regime, I can understand their confusion, but the landscape of Anglican education has not changed. Anglican schools neither discriminate against gay students nor do they want the right to do so.

The heads want the parliament to provide positive protection for religious freedom. When the presen­t vacuum is filled — not by rumour and misinformation but by the release of the Ruddock report — we can finally leave behind our broken mess of exemptions and move toward the positive protecti­on of religious freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

An Alabama School goes the extra mile to acknowledge their custodian

Eugene Hinton can’t control his emotions after walking into the gym at an elementary school in Alabama.

He thought he was going to clean up a spill and instead got an awesome surprise from the kids and their teachers….

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in Children, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ Presidential Address to the Diocese of Sydney

The reason why GAFCON came into existence is that parts of the Anglican Communion had departed from the doctrine of Christ. While the presenting issue was concerned with human sexuality, the underlying problem was the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, the so-called Instruments of Communion failed to address this departure from the faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’. It is for this reason that a vast number of bishops, including the Archbishop and Assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. The doctrinal bond that held the Anglican Communion together had dissolved. Whereas previous Lambeth Conferences had expressed their mind through resolutions, which at least had moral force for all Anglican Provinces, in 2008 the conference was resolution-free. The agreed tenets of our Anglican faith were no longer held in common. The lure of the world’s values and the accommodation to the world’s view of human sexuality had broken the bonds of affection and the ties that bind. Echoing Ezekiel’s explanation as to the coming judgment of God upon Israel,

…for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed
to the standards of the nations around you. Ezekiel 11:12

GAFCON is a reforming instrument of the Anglican Communion and calls all faithful Anglicans to stand firm for the teaching of Christ, explicitly recorded in Matthew 19:1-12. Yet it is not a single focus movement. The establishment of nine strategic networks last June, from theological education to ministry to children and youth, reflects the global reach of GAFCON in seeking to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. GAFCON is no threat to the Anglican Communion. It is only a threat to those who consider the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is outmoded and irrelevant, or to those who want to maintain a mere façade of unity, where no real unity exists. It is for this reason that the ‘Letter to the Churches’, overwhelmingly endorsed by the whole assembly of GAFCON 2018, expressed the view that attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference could not be contemplated, if bishops from those provinces who had departed from the teaching of Christ were invited. While I have a personal respect and affection for the Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries a grave responsibility upon his shoulders. If our Anglican Communion is merely defined by historical connections and heritage, rather than a doctrinally grounded commitment to Christ and the teaching of the Bible, then our koinōnia is not the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. GAFCON seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion by reclaiming its doctrinal foundations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Pewr FactTank) 6 facts about America’s students

America’s students are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever, while teachers remain overwhelmingly white. In fall 2015, the share of nonwhite students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools hit a record 51%. That’s up from 30% in fall 1986. Growth has been especially fast among Hispanic students, who increased from 10% of students in 1986 to 26% in 2015.

At the same time, nonwhites continue to make up a relatively small share of teachers: In the 2015-16 school year, just 20% of public school elementary and secondary teachers were nonwhite, up from 13% in 1987-88. (In 2015, 39% of all Americans were nonwhite.)

While America’s overall student body has become more diverse, many nonwhite students go to public schools where at least half of their peers are of their race or ethnicity. Large shares of blacks (44%) and Hispanics (57%) attend public schools where people of their own race or ethnicity make up at least half the student body. Meanwhile, whites – who continue to make up a larger share of overall U.S. public school students than any other race or ethnicity – tend to go to schools where half or more of students are white.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Sociology

(PJM) Bruce Bawer–Death by Entitlement

On August 7, the New York Times ran a story by Rukmini Callimachi about Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, a young American couple, both graduates of Georgetown University, who decided to quit their humdrum office jobs and go on an epic bike ride and camping trip that would take them all over the world. “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin wrote. “I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned.”

So in July of last year, they flew from Washington, D.C., to Cape Town, and from there bicycled through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania….

You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” wrote Austin during their trek. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted….I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own…”

They biked through Kyrgyzstan and entered Tajikistan. It was in that country that their journey came to an abrupt end this past July 29, when five ISIS members deliberately plowed their car into the two adventurers, killing them along with two temporary cycling companions, one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands. “Two days later,” wrote Callimachi, “the Islamic State released a video showing five men it identified as the attackers, sitting before the ISIS flag. They face the camera and make a vow: to kill ‘disbelievers….’”

What, then, is the moral of this couple’s story? In the last analysis, it’s a story about two young people who, like many other privileged members of their generation of Americans, went to a supposedly top-notch university only to come away poorly educated but heavily propagandized – imbued with a fashionable postmodern contempt for Western civilization and a readiness to idealize and sentimentalize “the other” (especially when the latter is decidedly uncivilized). This, ultimately, was their tragedy: taking for granted American freedom, prosperity, and security, they dismissed these extraordinary blessings as boring, banal, and (in Austin’s word) “beige,” and set off, with the starry-eyed and suicidal naivete of children who never entirely grew up, on a child’s fairy-tale adventure into the most perilous parts of the planet. Far from being inspirational, theirs is a profoundly cautionary – and distinctly timely – tale that every American, parents especially, should take to heart.

Read it all (cited in the morning sermon) and make sure to read the whole Ny Times original story.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Travel, Young Adults

(The Exchange) Brian Stiller–Secularism and Diversity: Lessons from Canada and its Supreme Court Decision about Trinity Western

…Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.

In today’s cultural, religious, and ethnic stew, to respect and get along with each other is as basic a formula as I can imagine. Justices opposing the majority noted,

The state and state actors [and in this case, provincial law societies] – not private institutions like TWU – are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life. . . . Canadians are permitted to hold different sets of values.

Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear the justices saying something like, “Live out your faith within your churches, institutions, and private communities, but if you try to bring it into civic life, if we don’t see your beliefs as being inclusive with our values, we will prevent your faith from influencing our public spheres….”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

‘A New Settlement Revised: Religion and Belief in Schools’ – A Church of England response

In response to the report published yesterday by the Westminster Faith Debates, by Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead, The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Revd Nigel Genders, said: 

“Church of England Schools provide education for the whole community. This includes those of other faiths and those of no faith, as well as Christian families. Around one million pupils attend our schools every day, each receiving a high-quality education, and our approach to education remains extremely popular.

“The report from the Westminster Faith Debates continues an important conversation about religion and belief in schools, and the type of education we want for our children.

“The report recognises that in today’s world there is an increasing need for religious literacy. While the recommendations will need to be read in the light of the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s report, expected in the autumn, we welcome the recognition of the importance of religious education in schools.

“The report raises the question of collective worship. Collective worship provides a vital opportunity for children to pause and reflect on the big questions of life and develop spiritually, and we are pleased to see a significant ground-shift in this revised report away from any call to abolish it, which would be to the detriment of children’s wellbeing.

“We have consistently argued that the issue of school admissions is complex in a system where parental choice is valued….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–Playing with Fire:The State of California, The teaching of History, and the Human Condition

The claim that “history is on our side” is one that has been debunked frequently, on this website and elsewhere. Yet it remains one of the most attractive and therefore persistent political myths of our day. And for radicals today, the idea that history is on their side has real plausibility because, to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, they intend to write it. Indeed, they are busily engaged in doing so….

the California curriculum is a symptomatic codification of the aesthetic preferences of the current political culture. As such, it raises question far beyond whether schools rather than parents should teach children sexual morality. For years, the in-house question for historians has been whether history can survive as a discipline despite the proliferation of micro-narratives and the collapse of the possibility of grand theory. But now that academic question has more immediate real-world consequences: Can the nation state, or maybe society in general in the democratic form with which we are familiar, survive in anything like its current shape, when history—which is vital to the nation-state’s legitimation—is fracturing into the myriad identities to which expressive individualism is ultimately vulnerable? When you add to this the other forces militating against social unity—immigration, globalization, etc.—the institutions and processes built on a deep sense of social unity and cohesion look profoundly vulnerable.

The action of the State of California may well be driven by the trendy politics of the day, but it represents a phenomenon of comprehensive social and political importance, not just the ascendancy of a particular political stance. The new curriculum represents the confusion that lies at the very heart of modern Western identity; it is far more significant than merely putting the name of Harvey Milk into the minds of the young. It is part of an ongoing and perhaps largely unwitting challenge to what it means to be human, and thus to the way the world is currently organized. But, as George Orwell once commented, “So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.” Indeed it is. And we may all be about to be burned.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Sexuality

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips– Are“safe spaces” are morphing into prejudice in reverse?

The thinking behind this [French] change was expounded in Le Monde by Mario Stasi, chairman of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism. He said race had been included in the French constitution by postwar politicians in revulsion at the ideology of the Nazis. In so doing, however, they had unwittingly promoted the cause against which they were seeking to fight. That’s because the very idea of separate races is itself a Nazi concept. It is arbitrary and scientifically meaningless. It is merely a device to promote hatred and worse.

It follows inescapably that, as a result of this change, the French are not only abolishing race but also racism. So there can be no more racial diversity targets and all the rest of the racial equality apparatus. This does not mean that the notion of prejudice will be abolished. Prejudice will be defined instead on the basis of “origins”, a neutral and surely more accurate term.

The implications of the change will be devastating for the industry of racial grievance. This can only be a good thing. The proper notion of equality, the concept which underpins western civilisation, derives from the Hebrew Bible which lays down that all people are equal because all are made in the image of God.

That means equal respect for everyone on the grounds of our common humanity. It is therefore an absolute and unconditional equality. It does not mean, however, identical treatment regardless of circumstance or behaviour: the basic condition of “victim culture”.

In our godless age, religious precepts have largely been replaced in the public sphere by ideologies such as feminism or anti-racism. These are man-made absolutes. They are therefore conditional upon which group exercises power over others to obtain privileged treatment and a free pass for bad behaviour.

That’s why “victim culture” is not about the victims of power but itself embodies an abuse of power. And that’s why, from LGBT flats to sacred wombs, we now have prejudice and discrimination in reverse.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Young Adults

The NY Times Profiles a Toronto area School, the Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy:1 Neighborhood. 24 Kindergarten Classes. 40 Languages. (Some Miming Helps.)

The school has 630 students, all between the ages of 4 and 6, and most are the children of immigrants. This makes up 24 classes of kindergartners.

They arrive speaking 40 languages but very little English, reflecting the motto of Toronto, “Diversity Our Strength.” So teachers wear cords around their necks with little laminated pictures giving basic instructions.

One shows an image of a person pushing another, with a line through it. No pushing. There are others, too. Line Up. Stop. Breathe.

“In the beginning, there is lots of miming,” said Stephanie Hammond, a teacher….

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Children, Education

(WSJ) Bob Kuhn–Canada Attacks Religious Freedom

Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, amid many promises that traditional religious believers would be protected. Those promises have proved empty. Earlier this month the Supreme Court of Canada told Trinity Western University, which I lead, that it could not open a law school. Accrediting a school that upholds traditional Christian teachings on marriage could send the wrong message to Canadians who disagree with Trinity’s beliefs, we were told.

This isn’t about the quality of our educational programs. Our researchers hold millions of dollars in grants. Many members of our faculty have been recognized as 3M Teaching Fellows, Canada’s most prestigious award for excellence in educational leadership. We are consistently ranked one of the best Canadian universities for educational experience, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Trinity simply is being punished for asking its faculty and students to observe traditional Christian teachings on marriage through a community covenant. In 2001 the high court ruled decisively that this policy did not disqualify the university from training public-school teachers. It seemed as if the ruling gave Trinity a secure place as one of the few private faith-based schools in Canada.

But that was then. In 2012 Trinity decided to open a law school.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

How One Texas Kindergarten Class Shakes Hands and Exchanges Smiles Every Morning

There are times when teachers may wonder, am I making a difference?

The emphatic truth is yes, and the proof is in the morning routine of a kindergarten class in the Keene Independent School District.

Video of the morning ritual shows one student, Asher Bates, greeting his classmates at the door to start the day. Bates stands there proudly leading the routine his teacher put in place at the start of the school year.

Read it all (and the video is great).

Posted in Children, Education