Richard Dawkins in his book, The God Delusion, quotes with approval the following saying from Victor Hugo, 'there is in every village a torch - the teacher: and an extinguisher - the clergyman'. It heads his chapter on childhood, abuse and the escape from religion. The quote highlights the increasing suspicion with Christianity is viewed. But can it really be that simple? Our education evening with Ian and Nina Fry sought to explored that uneasy relationship and shed some light on the contemporary debates.
Ian is currently the Director of Youth and Children's Ministry at Oakhill Theological College having been a secondary school teacher for 13 years and a schools worker for another 13. Nina has been in primary school education for 26 years. They brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to our evening.
Ian kick started our evening with a short talk drawing our attention to the difference between schooling, which ought to be the responsibility of the teachers and education, which ought to be the responsibility of the parent. He suggested that state education is increasingly replacing the role of parents rather than supplementing that role. This is perhaps most evident in the PHSE curriculum. Ian analysed a secular world view which predominates and contrasted that with the Christian world view which is increasingly being marginalised. He challenged us not to put our faith in education as though it was the solution to all our problems. Instead he encouraged us to continue to maintain the value of having faith as part of the education process.
After a coffee break we reconvened for questions. In Parkinson-esque style written questions were submitted to Ian and Nina and supplementary questions came from the floor.
The evening was a great success. It would be fair to say that the numbers of non-Church visitors was not what we'd hoped for. But the format of the evening with extended time for questions meant that those that came had a thought provoking and valuable evening.