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No crosses please, we’re a school

By poetix - 31 August 2012 124

I always thought my children – or child as it has turned out – would go to government schools. I believed (and still believe in many ways) that there should be one system of schooling, publicly funded.

And then… My daughter, at a very well regarded government primary school, made a cross from two sticks she found as a tribute to fallen soldiers for a Remembrance Day display. She was a Christian for some time before me, and this was totally her own idea on the day.

The cross was confiscated. She was not allowed to display it along with the floral tribute, although other small items (paper flowers and so on) were permitted. When I turned up at the end of the day, the cross was handed to me with the spoken message that ‘no religious symbols are permitted’. My daughter was quite upset, and felt she had done something wrong.

My own view is that her spontaneous tribute was a valuable thing. Turkish soldiers could also be honoured by other symbols. But I found it quite appalling that a primary school child’s respectful tribute to fallen soldiers was disallowed on the basis that it was religious. Of course, and rightly so, Muslim children at the school are able to wear headscarfs, but that is not seen as problematic.

And this is where it gets even more difficult. My daughter also came home from school very upset one day, as she has been told at a special presentation on Aboriginal culture that if she touched a didgeridoo, she would be made sick, and mightn’t be able to have children. I appreciate Aboriginal spirituality and culture being taught, but it is wrong, surely, to reduce a child to tears? It’s like an old notion of hell being used to scare a new generation of children.

Educationally, I had found the school wanting in some ways, so when a chance came to take up a position at an independent school a year early, we took it.

I made no protest against my daughter’s treatment, because we had the option and ability to remove her. Her new Anglican school is academically better, but also allows her to express herself more freely in a number of ways.

I’m not really seeking any answers through this overlong post, but just wanted to register my retrospective disgust at a little girl’s effort in remembering the war dead being censored. And the that certain spiritual beliefs are able to be expressed in government schools, but not others.

Her experience was fairly important to me in my developing religious beliefs, too, so I suppose I should be grateful. But I will always remember her look of shame at receiving back her confiscated cross.

The public school system lost a very bright little girl because she wasn’t an atheist. They also lost a committed family with skills to help the school. I had volunteered on a regular basis there.

But basically, the ideological position of the school, combined with a lack of options for intelligent kids, meant we left the goverment system forever. And thank God we had that choice. Many people don’t.

I’d appreciate any views on the issues raised here.

What’s Your opinion?


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124 Responses to
No crosses please, we’re a school
poetix 11:30 am 31 Aug 12

p1 said :

dpm said :

Unfortunately, it’s just more of the public vs private (sorry, ‘independent’) …

If by independent you mean still receives quite a lot of funding from the government. Personally, I wish everyone would go back to calling them private schools, rather then let them get away with that little bit of image manipulation.

You may be right. I thought it just meant independent from the Government system.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 11:29 am 31 Aug 12

Stevian said :

Keeping partisan religion out of schools is a good idea. You do realize a cross as a tribute dishonours every non-christian soldier, or do only Christians count in your world.

How did you come to that conclusion ?_?

poetix 11:28 am 31 Aug 12

Stevian said :

Keeping partisan religion out of schools is a good idea. You do realize a cross as a tribute dishonours every non-christian soldier, or do only Christians count in your world.

Anone who has read any of my comments in favour of the mosque, or even my post above, will know that that is not the case. That is an unecessarily offensive remark.

dpm 11:28 am 31 Aug 12

poetix said :

You haven’t addressed my main questions about religion though. At all. Just saying.

Hahaha! Yes, well, when I skimmed over it, it simply read as another rag-on-the-school-system thread.
Sure, the reason behind your situation is different, but I was ignoring the one-off ‘case study’ of your story* and just cutting to the chase, so to speak!
I’m sure everyone has a valid reason behind their decisions, and it’s not my place to say if their choice is right or wrong (however, your thread will have given people in the ‘independent’ system another good justification for their choice!).

* OK, in your case, it does sound like bureaucracy and policy gone mad, but wotcha gunna do? Some people probably complained to get that rule, now others are complaining about it – they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It really depends on each individual family if that is enough reason to swap schools. Luckily for you, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
In fact, now that I think about it, your post would have done a lot better as a ‘debate’ thread if you had stuck to the issue for your move, instead of then mentioning, PR-style, how much better the ‘independent’ school was as an option. That’s probably what made me read it as another anti-public school tirade. Now, go do some squats….

Deref 11:20 am 31 Aug 12

It seems to me that the problem is the way it was handled, not what was done.

I thoroughly agree that religious symbols should have no place in public schools, but if your daughter felt that she’d done something wrong then clearly it was handled with amazing incompetence.

The appropriate thing would have been for the teacher to have a quiet chat to, tell her how nice her tribute was and that it was valued, but explaining (in age-appropriate terms) why there are better ways of showing her respect.

Done well, she should have come out of it feeling good about herself and her action, and with a better understanding of the situation. Clearly it wasn’t done well.

Incompetence, sadly, isn’t confined to the public or private sectors. But don’t confuse incompetence with malice.

Keijidosha 11:20 am 31 Aug 12

poetix said :

You haven’t addressed my main questions about religion though.

Unfortunately your rabble-rousing diatribe will probably generate more discussion about passive aggressive parents than questioning the place of religion in public schools.

Stevian 11:12 am 31 Aug 12

Keeping partisan religion out of schools is a good idea. You do realize a cross as a tribute dishonours every non-christian soldier, or do only Christians count in your world.

Mysteryman 11:10 am 31 Aug 12

Perhaps what they meant was “no religious symbols that might offend those who take offense on behalf of minorities they don’t represent”?

watto23 11:07 am 31 Aug 12

I wonder if your daughter expresses a desire to become a muslim whether the school would be as free and open?

colourful sydney rac 11:03 am 31 Aug 12

That is a very poor effort on behalf of the school.

I am amazed by the levels of hypocrisy, when it comes to religion, that exist in large sections of the community – bash the catholics and scientologists as much as you want but, whatever you do, don’t say anything bad about islam or indigenous belief systems…

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 10:58 am 31 Aug 12

poetix said :

You did well, dear dpm!

You haven’t addressed my main questions about religion though. At all. Just saying.

Religion should be taught in public school, strictly in a historical sense, and all religion not just christianity.

Takeing away a childs right to religious freedom though is completely disgusting and who ever implements such rules needs to be sacked.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 10:55 am 31 Aug 12

Name and shame.

Far out that really upsetting. The amount of dumb rules inplace at public schools is getting out of hand.

My girls will be going through the catholic system as from my vast knowledge of act schooling, is the superior system.

p1 10:54 am 31 Aug 12

dpm said :

Unfortunately, it’s just more of the public vs private (sorry, ‘independent’) …

If by independent you mean still receives quite a lot of funding from the government. Personally, I wish everyone would go back to calling them private schools, rather then let them get away with that little bit of image manipulation.

poetix 10:52 am 31 Aug 12

You did well, dear dpm!

You haven’t addressed my main questions about religion though. At all. Just saying.

dpm 10:45 am 31 Aug 12

Unfortunately, it’s just more of the public vs private (sorry, ‘independent’) school p1ssing contest.
Same as any number of previous threads on the topic.
Your ‘lack of options for intelligent kids’ was a nice touch too. Hopefully all of them (the intelligent kids languishing in public schools) will be ushered away safely to the expansive environs of the ‘independent’ school world – before it is too late for them…..!

There, did I do OK in the slanging match?? 🙂

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