The British government has introduced plans to change how schools are run in the country:
Under plans disclosed by the Coalition [government] last week, parents, charities and voluntary groups will be able to set up “free schools” funded by public money but independent from state control.
According to New Humanist, “a worrying aspect of the… proposal… is that it is likely that many of the new schools will be faith schools, with greater freedom to set their own curricula than existing, non-academy faith schools.”
The upside is that they don’t have to be faith schools.
The headlines are misleading all over the place — they make it sound like Dawkins wants to indoctrinate young minds with atheism — but the quotations from Dawkins show that he doesn’t want that at all:
“I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded.
“If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.
“I would also teach comparative religion, and teach it properly without any bias towards particular religions, and including historically important but dead religions, such as those of ancient Greece and the Norse gods, if only because these, like the Abrahamic scriptures, are important for understanding English literature and European history.”
In reply to another questioner, Prof Dawkins said: “The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture.”
Ideally, that sounds great. But there’s no reason you need a separate school for teaching kids to ask good questions. Even Bible-as-literature and comparative religion classes are good ideas — if taught properly — but they should be electives which are offered in the current school system.