Category : Education

(C of E) Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

Commending the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–Truth emerges from disagreement and debate

Coming in to Broadcasting House this morning I saw for the first time the statue unveiled this week, of George Orwell, with its inscription on the wall behind, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” How badly we need that truth today.

I’ve been deeply troubled by what seems to me to be the assault on free speech taking place in British universities in the name of “safe space,” “trigger warnings,” and “micro-aggressions,” meaning any remark that someone might find offensive even if no offence is meant. So far has this gone that a month ago, students at an Oxford College banned the presence of a representative of the Christian Union on the grounds that some might find their presence alienating and offensive. Luckily the protest that followed led to the ban being swiftly overturned. But still …

I’m sure this entire movement has been undertaken for the highest of motives, to protect the feelings of the vulnerable, which I applaud, but you don’t achieve that by silencing dissenting views. A safe space is the exact opposite: a place where you give a respectful hearing to views opposed to your own, knowing that your views too will be listened to respectfully. That’s academic freedom and it’s essential to a free society.

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Posted in Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Language, Philosophy

(WS) A Must-not-Miss from Mary Eberstadt–The Primal Scream of Identity Politics


The founding document of identity politics, in other words, reflects reality as many African American women would have found it in the 1970s—one in which they were the canaries in the coal mine of the sexual revolution. It’s a world in which men are ever less trusted, relations between the sexes are chronically estranged, and marriage is thin on the ground. African American women were—and still are—disproportionately affected by aspects of the sexual revolution like abortion, out-of-wedlock births, and fatherless homes. Isn’t it suggestive that the earliest collective articulation of identity politics came from the community that was first to suffer from the accelerated fraying of family ties, a harbinger of what came next for all?

Identity politics cannot be understood apart from the preceding and concomitant social fact of family implosion. The year before the Combahee document’s publication—1976—was a watershed of a sort. The out-of-wedlock birth rate for black Americans tipped over the 50-percent mark (the 1965 Moynihan Report worried over a rate half as high). This rate has kept climbing and exceeded 70 percent in 2016. At the same time, other measures indicating the splintering of the nuclear and extended family expanded too. By 2012, Millennial women—who were then under the age of 30—exhibited for the first time the out-of-wedlock birth rate of black women in 1976: i.e., more than 50 percent. Millennials, of course, are the demographic backbone of identity politics.

And the out-of-wedlock birth rate is just one measure of the unprecedented disruption of the family over the last half-century-plus. Consider, just in passing, the impact of abortion. In 2008, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 61 percent of women terminating pregnancies were already mothers of at least one child. Many children—and many grown children—have been deprived of potential siblings via pregnancy termination.

Abortion, like single motherhood, is only one engine of a phenomenon that has come to characterize more and more American lives during the past half-century: what might be called the “family, interrupted.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Clay Routledge–Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom?

Young Americans seem to be losing faith in freedom. Why?

According to the World Values Survey, only about 30 percent of Americans born after 1980 believe it is absolutely essential to live in a democratic country, compared with 72 percent of Americans born before World War II. In 1995, 16 percent of Americans in their late teens and early adulthood thought democracy was a bad idea; in 2011, the number increased to 24 percent.

Young Americans also are disproportionately skeptical of free speech. A 2015 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) believe the government should be able to regulate certain types of offensive speech. Only 27 percent of Gen-Xers (ages 35 to 50), 20 percent of baby boomers (ages 51 to 69) and 12 percent of the silent generation (ages 70 to 87) share that opinion.

For many conservative commentators, especially those concerned with attitudes on college campuses, this is merely more evidence of the deleterious influence of the radical left in academia. But while ideology certainly plays a role here, these trends transcend political party affiliation, as a number of recent polls indicate.

2016 Gallup survey found that a majority of both Democratic and Republican students believe colleges should be allowed to restrict speech that is purposely offensive to certain groups. A survey of students’ attitudesconcerning free speech released on Wednesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that 66 percent of Democratic and 47 percent of Republican students believe there are times a college should withdraw a campus speaker’s invitation after it has been announced. And a survey published by the Brookings Institution in September found that 20 percent of Democratic and 22 percent of Republican students agreed it was acceptable for student groups to use violence to prevent a person from speaking.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, Young Adults

Balliol College, Oxford Students Backtrack On Decision To Block Christian Union From Freshers’ Fair

According to the Oxford University student newspaper, Cherwell, the CU had been banned over concerns for “potential harm” to freshers. The vice-president of the JCR, Frederick Potts, is quoted as saying: “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

Eventually the CU was told that a single multi-faith stall would be allowed to display leaflets, though no representatives would be allowed to staff it. The decision caused anger amongst students at Balliol, where a motion was reportedly passed unanimously accusing the JCR committee of “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and describing the step as “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”.

The Revd Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, said: “Freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental principle that underpins our country and its great institutions and universities. Christian Unions represent some of the largest student led organisations in many universities across the country and to exclude them in this way is to misunderstand the nature of debate and dialogue and at odds with the kind of society we are all seeking to promote.”

The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) described this type of incident as rare; most Student Unions, it said, are fair-minded and enjoy a good relationship with the CU in their university. However the Director of UCCF, the Revd Richard Cunningham added : ‘We are concerned that the current desire to provide safe spaces on campus does not infringe on the core liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association which are surely foundational to the university experience and indeed to basic human flourishing.’

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Posted in Church History, Education, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mott

O God, the shepherd of all, we offer thanks for the lifelong commitment of thy servant John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world; and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ, in whom alone is our peace; and who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Education, Methodist, Spirituality/Prayer, Young Adults

(NYT Op-ed) Bret Stephens–The Dying Art of Disagreement

So here’s where we stand: Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society. Yet we in the United States are raising a younger generation who have never been taught either the how or the why of disagreement, and who seem to think that free speech is a one-way right: Namely, their right to disinvite, shout down or abuse anyone they dislike, lest they run the risk of listening to that person — or even allowing someone else to listen.

Can we do better?

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

(Church Times) Dire state of Religious Education laid bare in analysis of Government census

A quarter of all state secondary schools are struggling to meet their legal obligation to teach religious studies, data obtained by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has shown.

Its analysis of the previously unpublished School Workforce Census, obtained from the Government by a Freedom of Information request, found that, out of the 2793 schools that took part in the census, 28 per cent (787 schools) said that they gave no time to religious education (RE) in Year 11, the GCSE year.

This equates with 800,000 pupils, NATRE estimates in its report, The State of the Nation: A report on Religious Education provision within secondary schools in England, published on Monday. And, of the schools claiming to offer non-examined RE to Year 11 pupils, 83 per cent admitted that their students received zero minutes of teaching per week, meaning that, in practice, it was not on the curriculum — what the report calls a “tick-box exercise”.

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

(PewF FT) As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens

Half of U.S. adults today are married, a share that has remained relatively stable in recent years but is down 9 percentage points over the past quarter century and dramatically different from the peak of 72% in 1960, according to newly released census data.

The decline in the share of married adults can be explained in part by the fact that Americans are marrying later in life these days. In 2016, the median age for a first marriage was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men – roughly seven years more than the median ages in 1960 (20.3 for women and 22.8 for men).

But delayed marriage may not explain all of the drop-off. The share of Americans who have never married has been rising steadily in recent decades. At the same time, more adults are living with a partner instead of marrying and raising children outside of marriage.

Marriage rates are also more closely linked to socio-economic status than ever before…

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(FCD) Why Doctors And Cops Are Taking Art Observation Classes

Looking at art isn’t just a pleasurable way to spend a few hours. It also has real benefits for professionals who are far afield from the art world, from detectives to doctors.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school suggests that taking art observation classes could sharpen medical students’ visual analysis skills. This is important because the ability to correctly read and interpret images like X-rays and other kinds of scans is vital in the process of diagnosis–one that beginner medical students are often lacking, at least partially because it’s a skill medical schools don’t teach.

The study, published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, focuses specifically on medical students studying ophthalmology–the medical field focused on the eyes–because so much of that discipline relies on doctors using observation to examine and diagnose patients. For the study, 18 first-year medical students took art observation classes, where they had six-hour-and-a-half sessions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while a control group also composed of 18 first-yearmedical students did not. None of the students had prior art training….

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Posted in Art, Education, Health & Medicine, Police/Fire

President of Princeton University Calls for Significant Debate and Real Disagreement in his Community of Learning

This University, like any great university, encourages, and indeed demands, independence of mind. We expect you to develop the ability to articulate your views clearly and cogently, to contend with and learn from competing viewpoints, and to modify your opinions in light of new knowledge and understanding. Your Princeton education will culminate in a senior thesis that must both present original research and also contend respectfully with counter-arguments to your position.

This emphasis on independent thinking is at the heart of liberal arts education. It is a profoundly valuable form of education, and it can be exhilarating. It can also at times be uncomfortable or upsetting because it requires careful and respectful engagement with views very different from your own. I have already emphasized that we value pluralism at Princeton; we value it partly because of the vigorous disagreements that it generates. You will meet people here who think differently than you do about politics, history, justice, race, religion, and a host of other sensitive topics. To take full advantage of a Princeton education, you must learn and benefit from these disagreements, and to do that you must cultivate and practice the art of constructive disagreement.

Doing so is by no means easy. Some people mistakenly think the art of disagreement is mainly about winning debates or being able to say, “I was right.” It is much harder than that. The art of disagreement is not only about confrontation, but also about learning. It requires that we defend our views, as we do in debate, and, at the same time, consider whether our views might be mistaken.

It requires, too, that we cultivate the human relationships and trust that allow us to bridge differences and learn from one another. That is one reason why I disagree with people who consider inclusivity and free speech to be competing commitments. I believe exactly the opposite, namely, that if we are to have meaningful conversations about difficult topics on university campuses and in this country, we must care passionately both about the inclusivity that enables people to trust and respect one another and about the freedom of speech that encourages the expression of competing ideas.

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Posted in Education, Young Adults

(WSJ) In America Men, young adults and rural residents increasingly say college isn’t worth the cost

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.

Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Personal Finance & Investing, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

From 2015 but still relevant–Everett Piper, President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

(WSJ) iGen, the first generation of young Americans to spend their entire adolescence with smartphones, versus Free Speech

Nor are they just concerned about physical safety. The iGen teens I have interviewed also speak of their need for “emotional safety”—which, they say, can be more difficult to protect. “I believe nobody can guarantee emotional safety,” one 19-year-old told me. “You can always take precautions for someone hurting you physically, but you cannot really help but listen when someone is talking to you.” This is a distinctively iGen idea: that the world is an inherently dangerous place because every social interaction carries the risk of being hurt. You never know what someone is going to say, and there’s no way to protect yourself from it.

The result is a generation whose members are often afraid to talk to one another, especially about anything that might be upsetting or offensive. If everyone must be emotionally safe at all times, a free discussion of ideas is inherently dangerous. Opposing viewpoints can’t just be argued against; they have to be shut down, because merely hearing them can cause harm.

This frame of mind lies behind recent student agitation to keep controversial speakers off campus. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit watchdog group, campus disinvitations have risen steadily, reaching an all-time high of 42 in 2016, up from just six in 2000. In the American Freshman survey of more than 140,000 college students conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute in 2015, 43% agreed that campuses should be able to ban extreme speakers, up from just 20% in 1984.

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Posted in Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(ABC Aus.) Same-sex marriage: Why have Muslims been so quiet in the debate?

Last night on ABC’s The Drum, Ali Kadri, spokesman for the Islamic Council of Queensland and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said his community was stuck with the choice of offending allies or siding with critics, and the result had been silence.

“Unfortunately, in the current climate, the right and conservative side has attacked Muslims as terrorists and extremists, and naturally the left side has been allies in defending us for a long period of time,” he said.

“We are afraid if we come out with our opinion then the left may abandon us for going against their view and we can’t be friendly with the conservatives because they have been bashing us for 15, 20 years every chance they get … and that includes some Christian sects as well.”

Even though it was the Australian Christian Lobby that led the charge against the Safe Schools program, Mr Kadri said Muslims were also deeply concerned about the possible impact of any legislative changes on education.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality