Tag Archives: school

Jonah and the Whale

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May 1, 2016 · 14:31

Bible Lessons

 

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SECULAR SYSTEM? Violet McClintock, 9, with her parents, Lisa Reynolds and Jeff McClintock.DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ
A father is taking his child’s school and the attorney-general to the High Court in a landmark case over school Bible lessons.

 

Things turned sour between the school in Red Beach, a suburb on the Hibiscus Coast, and Jeff McClintock after his daughter, Violet, now nine, was placed in Bible classes without parental permission.

One of the Bible class teachers from Life in Focus Trust, a volunteer who was not a qualified teacher, said parents did not need to be notified because the classes were “history lessons” as the Bible was factually correct.

The school operated an “opt out” system, but McClintock said despite opting out, Violet was repeatedly put back in.

After numerous complaints, McClintock was bringing his case against Red Beach School Board of Trustees for breaching its duties under the Education Act 1989 and against the attorney-general for passing legislation that was inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

Board of trustees chairman Antony Wentworth said the legal action was a “frustration” and a “distraction from core business”.

The first hearing was set down for March 26 at the High Court at Auckland.

– Sunday Star Times (New Zealand)

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A case of mistaken identity

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from “The Mirror”, 25 December 2014

 

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A school boy thought he was all set to play Joseph Stalin in the end of term play – but it turned out he was supposed to be Joseph of Nazareth.

Russian pupil Ilya Gavrichenko told his parents he was playing the Soviet despot, and so as requested, they made his outfit, including army boots, the red stripe on his military trousers, and a marshal’s jacket.

“We even got him a perfect moustache,” said his father Fedor, from St Petersburg. “We were all ready for him to be a success.”

It was only when they arrived at the performance that the horrified parents realised this was a nativity play and their 12-year-old son was supposed to play a very different role – Joseph of Nazareth.

“He was supposed to accompany the Virgin Mary but there was no time to change the outfit,” said his father.

“Each time he went out on stage, the mothers were in hysterics, crying and yowling from somewhere under their chairs.

“My son was lost because of mixing up the part he was playing, and feeling guilty for having done so.”

 

 

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Santa’s Wellies

I was a Probationer Assistant Minister (a bit like a curate) learning my “trade” in a housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh (1973-74)

Some of the kids in the primary school in the Parish could be a bit boisterous.  Near the beginning of my placement, I made the mistake of betraying the fact that I was (and still am) a Hearts supporter; the address to the School Assembly involved my unbuttoning my clerical shirt – to reveal a Heart of Midlothian t-shirt (I haven’t a clue what the point of this was – it was a long time ago); however, I do recall getting a “friendly word of advice” from the Minister in whose charge I was, following a complaint from the head- teacher.  Apparently – at break time –  there had been “exchanges” between wee Hearts supporters, and their bitter adversaries: those who supported the other Capital team, Hibernian (Hibs)

OK, my “card was marked” thereafter – I was a “Jambo”

My first Christmas – and I was invited by the Head-teacher, who had forgiven me for being a disruptive influence, to play Santa Claus at the kids’ end of term party.  I was to sneak into the school and go to the staff room to get changed into the Santa costume.

This was done, and my “appearance” at the party seemed to go down well.  After it, the children were let out into the playground, while I returned discretely to the Staff Room to change.

Five minutes or so, I left.  A couple of the young kids spotted me. “Hey, Minister, wur you Santy Claus?”

Another one joined them.  “Aye, ye wuz – see he’s wearin’ a pair o’ welly boots!”

Then a much younger laddie, “I dinnae ken if it’s yon man fae the church; am jist glad that Santy is a Jambo!”

 

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My Granddaughter, Cora, as a “Cow” (School Nativity Play, 10 December, 2014)

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December 11, 2014 · 17:38

The Best Email Interchange EVER

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School Days are the happiest of your life?

Council pays out in school religion row – Herald Scotland

AN atheist living on a Scottish island has been awarded £1000 compensation from his local council after a protracted wrangle over religious education at his eight-year-old son’s primary school.

David Michael, from Great Bernera off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, accepted the payment from Western Isles Council.

It was made after he claimed he was victimised on the grounds of religion in the way officials dealt with his complaint.

The row started in 2008 when Mr Michael raised concerns about religious elements in lessons on Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King at Bernera Primary School, where his son was a pupil.

He was also concerned about a proposed trip to a Bible exhibition.

In a subsequent letter from Kirsteen Maclean, the school’s headteacher, he was told that removing his son, Anton, from religious education would have wider implications.

“Withdrawal from RE would also include him being withdrawn from all school assembly occasions and Christmas activities,” she said.

After lengthy discussions with the local authority – and subsequent legal action on the way his complaints were handled – the council has agreed to pay Mr Michael £1000 compensation and costs of more than £1400.

The out-of-court settlement means no ruling has been made in the case and therefore no liability has been accepted by the local authority.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind in Scotland.

Mr Michael intends to donate the compensation money to the school.

He said he welcomed the settlement.

“We had concerns over the religious overtone to lessons that we felt was inappropriate given our own views,” he said.

“The school has now accepted it needs to be more flexible over the way it deals with this issue.”

Mr Michael was also angered by the attitude of local authority officials who dealt with his complaint.

“In my view, the department has serious organisational culture problems and I call upon the director to address these urgently,” he added.

Iain Nisbet, head of education law at Govan Law Centre, which took the case with support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, welcomed the outcome.

“This is a tremendously important case,” he said.

“Not only is it the first time a religion and belief discrimination case has been brought to court in relation to a pupil’s education, it underlines the breadth of anti-discrimination duties which schools now have to comply with.”

However, the council refuted any suggestion of discrimination and said that the action of the parent had been “unreasonable”.

“The school was flexible with how it dealt with this issue throughout, but what we were adamant we would not do was change the curriculum on the basis of one parent’s views,” said a spokesman.

“The parent did not want to have his child removed from religious education.

“He wanted to change the curriculum specifically in relation to the importance of faith to public figures such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, and we argue that was unreasonable.

“We agreed to settle the court action by this parent on purely economic grounds.”

He said that the cost to the taxpayer of having a civil hearing in court would be far in excess of the cost of settling the action.

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More from East Kilbride

Daily Record

News Scottish News East Kilbride
By Mark McGivern
Unholy row as parents at primary school infiltrated by hard-line religious sect discover new chaplain has the same beliefs

5 Oct 2013 08:07
KIRKTONHOLME PRIMARY in East Kilbride has brought in another chaplain who does not believe in evolution across species to preach to children.

Kirktonholme Primary
Tony Nicoletti/Daily Record
A SCOTS school which allowed a sect to teach children that evolution is a myth has a new chaplain – whose church shares the same beliefs.

Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride was forced to boot out members of the Church of Christ after chaplain Alex Gear handed out books which reject the widely accepted science on evolution.

But it has now emerged their new chaplain, Lenny Prentice, is from a church with the same beliefs.

And Prentice admitted yesterday he does not believe in evolution across species, despite that being accepted scientific teaching.

He said: “I don’t believe that man originated from monkeys or sheep came from fish.”

Two head teachers were removed from their posts at Kirktonholme after an outcry from parents.

Now they have been further enraged to discover that Prentice has been taken on.

He is an elder at the same church – Westwoodhill Evangelical – as Dr Nagy Iskander, widely described as one of Europe’s top creationists.

One parent who contacted the Record said: “It beggars belief that we boot out one bunch of religious extremists and we get in someone else whose church believes the same stuff.”

Prentice sought to play down the row last night.

He said: “There is as much evidence for evolution as there is for creation. There is no conclusive proof one way or the other. People need to get off their high horses about this issue.”

East Kilbride’s head of education, Anne Rooney, said Westwoodhill had been represented on the school chaplaincy team for two years and their representative worked with those from other churches.

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American Jewry

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THE BLOG
Three Ways to Save American Jewry From Extinction
Rabbi Shmuley BoteachOct 04, 2013
By now you’ve heard about the Pew Research poll, published this week, that concludes that American Jewry is on its way to oblivion. No need to wait for Hassan Rouhani of Iran to drop a bomb on us. We’re doing an incredibly fine job of destroying ourselves, thank you very much.

What all this shows is that what my friend mega-philanthropist Michael Steinhardt and I have been saying for years is unfortunately correct. Despite the untold billions that have been sunk into Jewish communal outreach for the last half century, it has barely made a dent in the rate of assimilation.

Here are three ways to give mouth-to-mouth to our dying community.

1. Stop creating a divide between the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds.

Today’s model of outreach is fatally flawed seeing as it necessarily forces a choice on non-affiliated Jews to choose between the Jewish and mainstream worlds. So, a student at University who hangs out with his non-Jewish friends is encouraged to stop going only to mainstream University events and come instead to Hillel or Chabad. I’m not knocking that. We need Jewish organizations that invite Jews in to classes, religious services, lectures, social events, and debates. But far more effective is not forcing the choice on them in the first place. Bring Judaism instead to where they are at. On campus, do colossal events that bring Jewish values, teachings, and wisdom to all students so that young men and women are not forced to choose.

Last week, in collaboration with Rabbi Yehuda Sarna of Hillel at NYU, our organization, This World: The Values Network, staged a huge event of over 1000 Jewish and non-Jewish students that had me moderating a discussion on genocide between Elie Wiesel and Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda.

In a similar manner, bring Judaism to the culture via TV shows, plays, and music that are mainstream and intended for all audiences. Some examples include the new Shlomo Carlebach-based musical ‘Soul Doctor,’ produced by Jeremy Chess, that is currently running on Broadway, the music of Matisyahu, and the TV show I hosted on TLC called ‘Shalom in the Home.’ Like the Kabbalah movement, bring Judaism and Jewish values to everybody instead of just focusing on the Jews. We are not a proselytizing faith, but that is no excuse not to make the Jewish people a light to all nations.

2. Fix the broken and boring Synagogue service.

The overwhelming number of Jews who still step into a Synagogue do so for three days of every year and then swear they will never come back. Sometimes I think we should ban secular Jews from High Holy Day services and shift their attendance instead to Simchas Torah and Purim. But since that’s not going to happen, let’s take the focus off of cantorial recital yodeling, which makes congregants into spectators, shift the teachings away from dry sermons, and focus instead on having services engage the heart and mind. Carlebach-style services that make people sing real spiritual melodies rather than listening to opera is the way to go. Rabbis putting out moral questions between each of the seven readings of the Torah on Saturday mornings is a means by which to influence congregants to apply the lessons of the Torah to their everyday lives, making Judaism relevant rather than aloof. And don’t forget a fantastic Kiddush with fine single malt whisky. Can’t afford it? Build less elaborate buildings and have a more elaborate cholent and sushi.

3. Make the Rabbinical and Jewish day school teaching professions fashionable again.

You basically become a Jewish day school teacher or a Rabbi after your fifth rejection from Harvard Business School. There is no social clout in it and you get paid in cholent beans. How do we change all this? By having AIPAC, Federation, Birthright, and other prestigious Jewish organizations respect Rabbis at their major conventions rather than having them say the blessing on the bread. How do we ensure they can make more money? Take the ten smartest Jewish hedge fund managers and have them create a fund open only to Jewish activists where there money will be managed by the smartest people in the world so that a teacher in cheder will have enough money to marry off his children without having to moonlight as a bar bouncer. The more money Rabbis and teachers make, without putting strains on the communal purse, and the more clout these professions enjoy, the more talent we will attract to those professions that are supposed to be inspiring our youth.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the winner of the London Times Preacher of the Year Award and the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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Happy

Happy

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April 20, 2013 · 07:57