Just the Facts

Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times that according to a survey conducted by Theos, a London-based religious think tank, most adults know certain key elements of the Nativity story, but only 22% new details such as the flight to Egypt and the massacre of the Innocents. Also telling was that the younger respondents were, the less they knew. Of the 18-24 age group, only 7% knew all of the details.

This bears up with my own experience. When I moved into teaching not so many years ago, more Year 7s (the first year of secondard school) had familiarity with the Nativity than today. Each successive year brings in a new crop of kids that know less than the year before.

I think this is down to several factors. First, Religious Education is getting less and less emphasis at the primary school level, because of the increasing emphasis of standardised test performance. Schools are focusing very much on the three Rs, even though studies are showing that no actual progress is being made.

The primary RE curriculum is more about feel-good self-image inflation and multi-culturalism. I have kids who have never met a Muslim or a Buddhist who can tell me much more about the life of Muhammad or Siddhartha than they can about the birth of Jesus.

Primary school teachers know less and less. Each new crop of teachers is a product of reduced fact-based RE and most haven’t even looked at it since they were 16 themselves. And I’m betting that even then for the most part they were complainers about having to study RE.

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3 Responses to “Just the Facts”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    At least saying Jesus was born in Nazareth is in the right country, I supose. ………
    And many of them may think this because they have seen the title “Jesus of Nazareth” as they flicked through the dvds on the rack at HMV 🙂

    The teacher at our school in charge of RE throughout the school is an excellent and conscientious teacher whose lessons are always well-prepared, but is not a particular believer. The children are inculcated with at least rudimentary and accurate knowledge about Christianity.

    Yesterday, Abigail aged 6 came home with the news that her class had been reading the Nativity story book “all about baby Jesus”, so she possibly knows far more than many of the folk in the survey , LOL.

  2. sol Says:

    Just curious: into which age bracket does Abigail’s teacher fit? I’m not saying there aren’t good younger teachers when it comes to primary RE – just wondering about her accurate knowledge of Christianity.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    Abigail’s class teacher is ~ 30; the other teacher who is in charge of RE is ~35.

    I should clarify that the Christian element is accurate in as far as depicting the beliefs of evangelical Anglicanism as opposed to High Church , RCism or Orthodoxy.

    AFAIK there are about 10/180 children in the school who are regular churchgoers, and 3 of those are Baptists and my two are Orthodox.

    Even at 9, Helen has been mocked by some of her classmates for having a belief in Christ, though this attitude is most certainly not coming from the staff………….


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