The Instigator
AimeeGleek17
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
republicofdhar
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Should religion be taught in primary schools?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
republicofdhar
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/26/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 783 times Debate No: 62285
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (4)

 

AimeeGleek17

Pro

Religion should be taught in primary schools as it makes children more open minded and better people as it makes them more diverse and more willing to accept more people rather then discriminate.
republicofdhar

Con

Thank you for bringing this very interesting topic to the floor. I accept.

I would request that you define religion or religions that you refer to in your question, and I am eagerly anticipating your opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
AimeeGleek17

Pro

What i mean is that children will be given basic knowledge of all religions to broader their knowledge and so they look at the person next to them and see them as a person not based sterotypically on their religion. Also if we dont teach them the basics of all religions then how will they know that they exist, there are a lot of good lessons within religion and we are not brainwashing them but educating them on aspects of the world that arnt going to go away as religion is now part of our society and is everywhere. By giving children this knowledge earlier on then they will grow up with good values beign taught to them.
republicofdhar

Con

Your style of answering appears to be rather informal (which I like), so I will dismiss with referring to you as Pro and I'll address you directly as I make my points here.

1. It's almost impossible to do so without angering somebody or some group of people

Okay, you say that you wish children to be given a basic knowledge of all religions. This would entail scriptures being taught as works of literature. This is an unthinkable circumstance to a great many people. Imagine the outrage if Jesus and Muhammad were referred to as "characters", and their journey referred to as a semi-fictional narrative. Parents and churches would bring the roof down.

2. Scriptures are not mutually compatible

The 10 Commandments in Christianity say that "thou shalt not have any other gods before me". A devout Christian family would find the idea of teaching Christianity on the same level as another religion unthinkable.

The Islamic shahada states that "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger". A Muslim family would react the same way as the Christian family does.

The same goes for practically every other contemporary religion.

3. Religions are contradictory

How would you expect teachers to give such a wide range of explanations on questions as big as how the universe came about without confusing them? How would you teach children that Jesus and Muhammad and Zeus and Krishna and Thor should all be considered God or gods without confusing them?

4. Religion is not factual

Religion is not factual, it is full of parables and stories that require interpretation. As such, religion as a subject would be complex and politically correct to the point of being useless.

4. Teachers have their own religious biases

To ask teachers to teach religions they don't believe in could turn things ugly. Teachers may either outright refuse or tailor their explanations to favour their own religious beliefs. Primary school children are not old enough to recognise these differences, and this will affect their worldview = brainwashing.

It is difficult for a primary school student to muster the gall to disagree with a teacher, whom they perceive to have a wealth more of knowledge than they do (and rightly so). This means that a teacher's religious affiliations would almost certainly impact them.

5. Educating children about the presence of religion and the various religions that exist is not synonymous to teaching religion

Religion entails an examination of scripture and the beliefs of many people in various religion. It requires a great deal of sophistication and having found one's position in a religious perspective as well. Children cannot be expected to have already done that.

6. Values and morals are not synonymous with religion

Values and morals are not exclusive to religion and religion does not have any monopoly over them (see secular humanism). Furthermore, many religions impose their morality on children with the fear of divine retribution. Not only is this counterproductive and terribly disingenuous, it is cruel. Children should not have their values based on abstract scripture with no real basis for its morals. Instead, they should be taught values as we know them as humans. I am going to give a personal anecdote (given the informal nature of this debate). I was brought up in a Christian institution. When I was in primary school, I was told the story of how Abraham almost sacrificed his son, and how he was praised and rewarded for it. I went back confused and surprised, knowing that killing was wrong but also knowing that obedience was right. I immaturely concluded that obedience is always right, and tried my best to convince myself that if God so wished, I would sacrifice my family. Of course, these thoughts haunted me for days before I realised (and was very sad about this, because I thought that I was angering God) that I did not have the courage or faith to do it. It is my opinion at this point that the entire episode was cruel and I would not wish the same on any child.

For these reasons, I absolutely do not believe that religion should be taught in primary schools. I look forward to your answer.
Debate Round No. 2
AimeeGleek17

Pro

1. It's almost impossible to do so without angering somebody or some group of people
It is almost impossible to do this without angering somebody or some group of people I agree, but children have a right to learn and then the teachings would be open for them to decide.
2.You say that it will confuse the children but doesn't math and English if we did not teach them something to avoid confusion then we would not teach them lots of things.
3.People often accuse the religions of brainwashing people to join them. So wouldn't it be hypocritical to do the same by convincing children that religion does not exist? Its not just going to go away the society we live in now is full of different faiths and so we have to learn about them to respect their views.
4. We have always looked towards religion or an idea of who we are and where we come from. Religion is something that is a part of us; people say it is our souls, our past lives. Our beliefs are who we are and help to say how and why we live our lives. As we live in a place that has adopted the freedom to religion and is full of 60 different religions and belief systems. We teach primary and secondary religious, so then they are properly informed of the world around them and know the unbiased options that are available to them if they so choose. We give basic religion at an early age to ensure that when they go to secondary education they have a simple understanding and are going to be more open to and understanding of the different people they will meet in life. Religious also teaches tolerance to other beliefs and their ways of thinking. We teach children through these to not be in any way racist or offensive to the different beliefs out there and instead welcome those different to us into a bigger, welcoming community. As well as this we teach them the ways of peace in each religion and prevent them learning or believing any extremist groups by getting them to see the truth behind certain religions and not be tricked or ignorant to the truth of those religions. An example can be the recent runaways from countries such as Austria and the UK, who have run away or attempted to join groups like ISIS with false promises and lies in the last three weeks [Huffington post was my source for that so you can check the information for accuracy on that]. We teach them now and they will not be misguided later down the line by those seeking only death and destruction counter to what the rest of their beliefs say.
This is my reasons I look forward to your answer.
republicofdhar

Con

Thank you for your arguments.

1. I am heartened that you concede the near impossibility of the task. You may not realise, but until such time as a child has reached the age of 18, the child's parents have the legal right to decide what is good or not for the child. This being the case, even if religion as a subject was imposed on the children, a parent would have the legal right to refuse, because of the constitutional right for freedom in practising religion. Therefore, if parents disapprove, the program would be a waste of taxpayers money, because it does not diminish the cost of running it. Even if certain parents agree to religious teaching, that would simply be an indication that they should bring their children to Sunday school or something of the sort.

You say that children have the right to learn. I put to you that children have the right to freedom of choice in their religion. As I have explained in depth in my previous argument, teaching children religion in primary school places a lot of pressure on them, because (a) they are unable to make conscious distinctions between them, not being exposed to critical thinking skills at that age, or (b) they are unable to muster the courage to disagree with their teacher, whom they know to be far more knowledgeable than they. If this is true, then surely teaching religion in primary schools subtly pressurises children into making certain particular choices, as they are subject to unfair pressures. What is worse, they may end up with a simplistic and unsatisfactory understanding of religion, which is wholly counterproductive. This cannot be a positive scenario. Children should not be taught such complex and layered concepts in primary school. Secondary school , or higher school (junior college, in some countries), would be a more appropriate place to begin.

2. I have two responses to this, which I will expand on in parts 2(i) and 2(ii)

2(i). The knowledge taught to children in Mathematics and English is objective and nearly universally accepted truth, based on practically infallible axioms. We teach them that 2+2=4, that 2x80=160, that 20/40x100=50%, all of which are undebatable at the fundamental level. (If they are debated in scholarly circles, it is of very little consequence to primary school students.) We tell children not to question English and Mathematics, or (deliberate wordplay here), to take our word as gospel. Religion, however, does not enjoy the same degree of consensus as English, Mathematics, Science, or the social sciences. On the contrary, religion is one of the most hotly debated topics in the world. For this reason, you would not expect to see an "English" or "Mathematics" section on this page, yet there is a section for "Religion"! We cannot expect children to blindly follow us on a subject that we can barely reconcile ourselves.

2(ii). Math and English are not as difficult as religion is. People of all ages struggle with religion, to a far greater extent than English or Maths. It is for the same reason that we do not teach children quantum mechanics. It is beyond them and would confuse them.

3. There is a logical flaw here. Lack of discussion on a topic is not evidence that it does not exist. My school was extra cagey about the topic of racial differences, preferring not to talk about them, but I knew that these differences existed.

4. Children in primary school are seldom concerned with the academic exploration of where their souls come from. Until they get to that point, ignorance is certainly bliss. It is unnecessary, even counterproductive to tell children, "Here is a Christian" or "here is a Muslim" or "here is a Buddhist", "do not discriminate against them based on their beliefs". What we should be telling children is "the world is made up of every kind of people, respect them all, you have much to learn from each one". (As I mentioned before, look up secular humanism. Religion or religion as a subject is unnecessary for this endeavour.) If you insist that they must know other faiths to gain a broader worldview, then that is something to be learnt at home, not in an academic setting. Schools educate, parents raise.

Your approach to the interpretation of terrorist beginnings is slightly simplistic. Since you have used the case study of ISIS, I shall tailor my answer to the Muslim faith. There are several verses in the Qur'an that can be interpreted as in favour of jihad and violence. This can also be seen in the hadith, the text supplementary to the Qur'an. Muslims are generally peace-loving people, but Islamic scripture is possible to be interpreted a certain way. Teaching religion in school will not change this. Potential terrorists are brainwashed with promises of new beginnings by scholars in the faith. Indeed, the Caliph of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad, which I can only imagine does not preach hatred. There is no way, eventually, that we can convince a potential terrorist that our interpretation is superior to theirs, because their conception of justice is based almost exclusively on their own interpretation of the Qur'an. They consider it God's Will. Since religious teaching is clearly not a solution, it should not be taught, especially in primary schools.

I notice that you have not responded to points 5 and 6, and I am confident that you acknowledge and agree with my point of view on those.

For these reasons, I restate that religious teaching should be kept away from primary schools. I humbly rest my case and anticipate your responses eagerly.
Debate Round No. 3
AimeeGleek17

Pro

Thank you for your arguments.
1.Yes a parent may disapprove but there are also many who would not is it right to deny so many just to appease a few.
Yes children have a right to freedom of choice but how can they make that choice if they have not been given that basic knowledge then how can they give a choice later on. I'm not suggesting that they learn everything just the basics and so they grow up more tolerant to different religions and so if we install morals into them when they are young they will grow up more open-minded.
2.Yes maths and English is objective but this does not mean that religion is less important, by teaching them we are providing them with useful knowledge and so they can make own choices later on. Doesn't math and English confuse children as well the same as say French or Spanish everything is confusing if your not taught it when we approach a certain age our minds close off to new ideas and we are weary to let new ones in.
3. It is true that lack of discussion doesn't mean it does not exist but how do they know that and you may have knew but that doesn't mean everyone does.
4.Yes schools educate and parents raise but they both are influential of a children's mind developing and parents may be one-sided where if they are in a more relaxed environment then they are more likely to earn more and that for some children may come through learning in schools.
republicofdhar

Con

Thank you for your closing arguments. I will respond to each one before reiterating my original arguments.

1. Your point was already addressed in my argument. Parents have exclusive rights over decisions of this sort for their children. If they disapprove, turnout will be low, and so to impose such a programme in primary school is a waste of taxpayer's money. There is no "denying" it to people, they always have the option of sending their children to a school to learn religion, or Sunday school, or to a madrasah on the weekends, etc.

I would also like to remind you of my previous arguments, that religion is a complex and multi-faceted concept, and that unnecessary pressures would be placed on children as they make their choice. Furthermore, they are unlikely to grasp the concepts properly. For this reason, it would be more productive to have an optional, similar programme, in a secondary school, where children are more mature, and can approach the concepts better.

2. I argue that religion is indeed much less important practical knowledge than English and Mathematics. Very few people can grow up to become productive members of society, get a decent job, earn a living, etc. without at the very minimum, a primary school-level command of Mathematics and English. Both are essential skills for survival in our world. Religion, however, is not. It is unnecessary for our survival. I would like to introduce you to renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. (http://psychology.about.com...) He posits that physical needs, safety needs, social needs and esteem needs are four needs that every human being has and must be fulfilled in that order for a human being to have a happy life. Mathematics and English contribute to achieving these needs. The final level of needs is self-actualisation needs. Religion contributes to this. Notice, however, that it is only necessary after the other needs have been fulfilled. Therefore, I say that Mathematics and English are far more important, in practical terms, than religion, as an academic subject.

3. We may not tell a child about the barracuda until he/she turns 14, but that does not mean that he/she will disbelieve in the barracuda when he/she is finally told about it. We cannot possibly tell a child every single thing in the world that exists, for fear that they will disbelieve in it when they finally encounter it. In fact, I doubt that it ever happens. Children are conscious of the fact that there is much for them to learn before they understand the world. If someone had never encountered religion until the mature age of 30, however, then yes there is a definite chance that they would not believe in it, as they would be certain that they already had a knowledge of everything important in the world. The same cannot be said for a child.

4. I apologise sincerely, but I can't seem to follow your argument. I will address only the point where "parents are one-sided". Parents have an absolute right to be one-sided. As mentioned in previous arguments, they have almost exclusive jurisdiction over what they perceive to be in the child's best interests. I would like to remind you, once again, that religion as a subject is not the same as teaching children about religion. Religion involves an in-depth understanding of scripture. I worry that our definition of the subject has gone awry as we went down this debate.

I am confident, now, that you have been able to see things from my perspective. Allow me to reiterate my arguments.

Religion should not be taught in primary schools because it cannot be done without angering stakeholders. At the same time, scriptures are not mutually compatible and hence are not simple historical sources, they are contradictory, their factuality is contentious, and these shortcomings of religion an academic study cannot be passed on to children in primary school, who are not critically aware enough to make important distinctions. Teachers also have their own religious biases and inclinations, and this is very likely to manifest in the child, whom would require a great deal of fortitude to disagree with the teacher on a subject he/she knows practically nothing about. Finally, religion as a subject is unnecessary as a mechanism to impart good values in primary school. As I have mentioned previously, many religious institutions do this by imparting a fear of divine retribution to their students. Furthermore, morally contradictory events in scripture, such as the Biblical story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son to God, are both confusing and to many, immoral in content. This uncertainty we hold in our scripture must not be arbitrarily passed down to every child in primary school. Values can be imparted as they are, because they are intrinsic to our cultures and society. Values such as respecting your elders are more common in Asian societies, but even though they are Biblical concepts, far less of Asia is Christian than the Western world. Values can be imparted as part of teaching civic mindedness, as well. Objective case studies must be given to primary school students to put them on the path of critical awareness, so that they are able to tackle difficult concepts in their future. We must first place students on the path to understanding objective knowledge, before plunging them into the depths of uncertainty that is religion.

For these reasons, I reiterate that religion should absolutely not be taught in primary schools. This has been a most fruitful debate, I thank you, AimeeGleek17, for your spirited arguments. It has been a pleasure debating with you.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by damlaozdemir2001 2 years ago
damlaozdemir2001
I think that there are really two options concerning this debate: we either teach a 'religious studies' class that gives a general view of all the religions, or we simply do not put religion on the academic curriculum.
The first option is the best in my opinion. This is because people tend to think that religion is inherited. An example of this would be a student who has a Muslim father. He would automatically be considered Muslim. However, we should have be more open-minded than this: perhaps teaching the child most of the religions of the world would, in his mind, prove that Islam is what he wants to believe in. However, it could also be that when the child grows up, he decides to convert into another religion. You really cannot know the outcome until you have tried this in schools.
The important factor here is that parents aren't willing to show their kids different religions, as they fear that they will choose 'the wrong path'. Some even have the ignorance to keep their child in the dark, teaching them that a certain religion is the one that the whole world believes in. This is wrong, simply because children have rights of their own, and the mere fact that they are innocent and impressionable doesn't mean that they should be blatantly lied to.
I am not saying that parents should not teach their kids their own religion, but they should not force it, and should be able to take the risk of them maybe converting after they have been introduced to new ideas and beliefs.
If the above standards are too high for parents of a school, then I suggest that the latter option is introduced: religion is not put on the academic curriculum. Although to me this sounds like ignorance, I think it is a better option than teachers being sued for teaching someone's kids that a certain religion existed. All in all, this debate is more the parents' problem.
Posted by damlaozdemir2001 2 years ago
damlaozdemir2001
I think that there are really two options concerning this debate: we either teach a 'religious studies' class that gives a general view of all the religions, or we simply do not put religion on the academic curriculum.
The first option is the best in my opinion. This is because people tend to think that religion is inherited. An example of this would be a student who has a Muslim father. He would automatically be considered Muslim. However, we should have be more open-minded than this: perhaps teaching the child most of the religions of the world would, in his mind, prove that Islam is what he wants to believe in. However, it could also be that when the child grows up, he decides to convert into another religion. You really cannot know the outcome until you have tried this in schools.
The important factor here is that parents aren't willing to show their kids different religions, as they fear that they will choose 'the wrong path'. Some even have the ignorance to keep their child in the dark, teaching them that a certain religion is the one that the whole world believes in. This is wrong, simply because children have rights of their own, and the mere fact that they are innocent and impressionable doesn't mean that they should be blatantly lied to.
I am not saying that parents should not teach their kids their own religion, but they should not force it, and should be able to take the risk of them maybe converting after they have been introduced to new ideas and beliefs.
If the above standards are too high for parents of a school, then I suggest that the latter option is introduced: religion is not put on the academic curriculum. Although to me this sounds like ignorance, I think it is a better option than teachers being sued for teaching someone's kids that a certain religion existed. All in all, this debate is more the parents' problem.
Posted by goalex 2 years ago
goalex
I am pro
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by KatieKat99 2 years ago
KatieKat99
AimeeGleek17republicofdharTied
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Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a pretty close debate but Con used a personal example which is some what of a no no in debate so I'm going to have to vote pro on this one. But this was a very very close debate
Vote Placed by Jellon 2 years ago
Jellon
AimeeGleek17republicofdharTied
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Reasons for voting decision: One observation I made is that Pro seemed to be arguing that religion should be taught at a high level while Con argued it should be taught in detail. Pro did nothing about this and effectively allowed Con to frame the debate. Neither used sources. Pro made a claim that Huffington Post was a source, but failed to give a reference as required by DDO standards. Some may award conduct points to Con for such behavior, but I will forgive it in this case due to the informal nature of the debate and lack of sources on both sides. Overall, Con was more thorough in addressing the topic. Con was able to address all of Pro's arguments and build a positive case against it. Pro addressed most, but not all, of Con's arguments. For example, in round 3 Pro addressed only 4 of Con's 6 numbered points. If anyone wants more detail from me, I'd be glad to give it in comments.
Vote Placed by a_mysterious_stranger 2 years ago
a_mysterious_stranger
AimeeGleek17republicofdharTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both arguments were reasonable, however, the lack of sources makes it hard to choose. Con had better conduct, but needed more sources, pro lacked sources as well.
Vote Placed by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
AimeeGleek17republicofdharTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had some well thought out arguments. Some or Pro's arguments seemed a little self-defeating to me (sorry if that does not seem like the case to you). I have to give this one to Con.