A close friend of mine has recently become a home-school tutor in South Africa for a young-earth Christian Creationist family.
I told her that I was against the idea of faith schools and this was her reply copied directly from Skype chat (I'm renaming her "Betty"):
Betty: But like the kids dont have to believe everything they learn, they would learn other stuff in government schools that they probably wouldnt believe either."
Kelly: well school is supposed to teach facts, not beliefs.
Betty: not neccesarily who decided what school teaches though? and when a teacher decides to teach big bang theory over creation do all kids have to believe that? i dont think its a bad thing if there is a school that encourages children's belief system along with their education, i'm sure there are muslim schools and jewish schools too :)
Betty: just as a heads up i will NEVER send my kids to a christian school for several reasons :P but i dont think its a bad thing that systems like that exist for parents who feel strongly about teaching their kids in a christian environmnent
Kelly: well with regards to choosing school curriculums in a government space, experts in various academic disciplines design those specific parts of the curriculum which then get verified by the relevant state department. That's what constitutes the IEB and government school curriculums. I think belief systems should be taught at home and only at home. I'm very against the idea of faith schools, for all religions.
Betty: yeah look for the sake of my kids, i wont send them to a christian school because i dont want them to only make christian friends and i dont wanna risk them being in a christian school thats overly religious or ruins the freedom of christianity for them
Betty: but i dont think the existance of christian schools is that terrible. I think that the parent has the responisibility and right to have a say about what their child learns, i mean its only very modern that schools even are governmental, it was the parents who taught the child, parents just dont have the time any more or the education to teach them what we need to know nowadays to keep up in society. but if the least the parent can do is decide what form of education their child has i think its fair to give them that choice and to have those choices available
</end of conversation.>
I know that the idea of faith schools is wrong and I know that Dawkins has spoken out against them, but I'm not fully clued up on why exactly. I at least don't know enough about it to argue successfully against them. Please help.
Betty's arguments are full of weaknesses that faith schools are designed to exploit. The idea that educating children into any kind of faith is harmless is fundamentally flawed - in fact, it's the exact opposite, and what all faiths want. The various churches would fight tooth and nail against any attempts to reduce their influence through faith schools, because capturing young, impressionable minds is essential to their continued existence.
It's about time that the term "education" was divorced from what faith schools actually provide. It's indoctrination, and nothing less. They are also socially divisive, denying children the opportunity to experience diversity of opinion and belief, within closed instructive institutions.
Just plain wrong, and shouldn't be permitted, encouraged or tolerated.
Firstly, I agree with you in total regarding faith schools. Faith should be kept at home, if kept at all (until the day it finally disappears forever). None of our tax money should go to them, if they do exist---that is a no-brainer. I do feel that your friend is doing right if she is not sending her kids to a faith school explicitly because she wants them to grow up in a more heterogenous atmosphere as far as their schooling is concerned. It is interesting that she already has some reservations about the motivations of these schools, and one may say, what it is like to be around Christians all day. I find this humorous, for its implications are vast, no? As far as Dawkins is concerned regarding the topic, I would propose that you register at his website firstly as it is a great pool of information concerning atheism & Dawkins. I can't do the site justice in speaking of it, you really need to just check it out if you haven't! http://richarddawkins.net
There, if you search “Faith Schools” in the search engine after clicking on “Content & Discussion,” you will find many links to this subject, including the 4 part series “Faith School Menace?” which Dawkins did for MORE4, which was posted on the US Youtube by AtheistMediaDotCom, whose own Youtube channel is a pool of atheist material as well! I think you will be able to find your answers here.