A Question of Openness and Tolerance

Last week Dave Downer and I had the pleasure of going to yet another of 19 December 2015the islands schools to teach the pupils a little about Buddhism. This time it was St. George’s school in Newport and some very special children.

St George’s School is the only maintained secondary special school on the Isle of Wight for students with Severe and Complex Needs, to quote from their own website, “Students at St George’s access a broad and balanced curriculum with a bias towards functionality and practical skills. We work towards developing the whole person and believe that learning is lifelong. As a consequence we reinforce learning in the community and endeavor to teach the students to become as self-reliant and independent as possible. Teaching and learning is individual centered. We design our learning environments and adapt our teaching styles as appropriate to the needs of a group or individual. We set and achieve high standards with our students through challenging and appropriate targets.”

What a contast to Riverheads High School in Staunton, Virginia, USA. Not the school, Not the teachers, Not the pupils but the parents…………..

The children were asked to try their hands at copying a passage known as the Shahada, or declaration of faith in Islam. The work sheet distributed to students said: “This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.”

But a group of parents accused the teacher of trying to convert their children to Islam! They were’nt asked to recite the Shahada, which translates as “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” If they were this has to be done with conviction and one has to understand its meaning, then they have become a Muslim.

To quote one of the parents “I am preparing to confront the county on this issue of the Muslim indoctrination taking place here in an Augusta county school. This evil has been cloked in the form of multiculturism. My child was given the creed of the Islam faith to copy.” She went on to accuse the teacher of “planting the seed of satan into the precious minds of those innocent children.”

I dread to imagine how they would have reacted to our Buddhism class with all those idols and strange foreign words AND, LORD FORBID, concepts and ideas.

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