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The persistence of faith schools in England

“Faith schools”—those with a definite religious orientation—have been something of an issue in England the past several years. The issue comes out of the secular and multicultural commitments of the British state. The problem is that secular multicultural education is always bad, at least on any large scale, because schools of that kind can’t have educational goals that are more sustaining than pliability on the one hand and the effective pursuit of self-interest on the other. If the moral world consists solely of the conflicting purposes of various people, then you either teach children to do what they’re told or you teach them to get what they want. The results of such an outlook applied to education are fundamental aimlessness, aggression, manipulation, boredom, stupidity, and general bad conduct. Everybody hates everybody, and nobody learns anything.

As it happens, C of E and Catholic schools have been around a long time and enroll maybe a quarter or third of British pupils. While their Christian quality is often attenuated, what’s there is enough to make a big difference in results. Tony Blair and his education advisors noticed that, so they made expansion of the system of faith schools a national goal. Since this is present-day England, that meant they had to offer equal state support to schools for other faiths, in particular Islam.

Then came September 11, and battles between Muslims and whites in the North of England. Various activists, organizations and deep thinkers who had never liked the idea came out denouncing faith schools as hotbeds of bigotry and educational apartheid. Proposals like quotas for atheists and infidels and other ways of loosening the religious connection and so taming the beast were put forward.

Tame the beast enough to make it multicultural, of course, and you recreate the problems of the general state schools. The issue goes to the heart of the contradictions of the established order. Faith, and the local cohesion of substantive communities, are offenses against that order, and its admiring servants loathe and would love to eradicate them. On the other hand, faithlessness and incoherence don’t work as a social matter, and ersatz faiths like “tolerance” can only fill the gap in secondary ways. They can’t provide the love that makes the world go ‘round.

In this as in all ways the left/liberal state is parasitic. It can’t motivate the direction and cohesion, the public spirit and standards, that it needs to exist. That means it can’t be as enthusiastic as it would like in rooting out the bigotries (as it sees them) that are necessarily intertwined with things necessary to it. Hence the bad conscience of liberals, a bad conscience that results from their failure to be more inhuman than the constitution of reality allows.

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Comments

Counterintuitive. One would think the USA would have faith schools and the UK not. Anyone know why the schools are prevalent in the UK? Do the Brits not have the ability Americans do to run to “progressive” judges and have the law and popular sentiment overruled? Is tradition the reason?

Jim,

Excellent article. Almost covered all the bases … almost. The missing one is that old sore, IQ.

In my father’s day - and he was schooled in the 1920’s and 30’s - the local Church School was the only educational option in many parts of rural England. The native intelligence of the children was not at issue. They were taught the three r’s plus, of course, the fourth - religion - and some history and geography. It was, he told me once, “as basic as could be. But in those days a basic education was a good education.” It stood him well. He left school at 14, piloted a Lancaster bomber as a 22-year old Flight Lieutenant and, in business life, became Managing Director of a high technology plastics manufacturer.

Change was already afoot by my school days in the 1950’s and ‘60’s - not faith-based like my father’s - and has only accelerated with the passage of time. Since the 1944 Act, education has been progressively nationalised and egalitarianised. But at the same time two extremely pertinent developments in society have been in train.

The first is the emergence of that dissonant phenomenon noted in American society in 1994 by Hernnstein & Murray. By such actions as ending selection successive British governments of the left have forced the cognitively able to seek to educate their children wherever the dullard masses are less evident. Church schools have been a major beneficiary of this and, accordingly, have not only delivered a good standard of education but found it contructively received by an above-average intake. I would say that the latter is by far the more significant factor in the good results obtained, on average, by the Church schools.

The second development has been the concentration in major urban centres of a large population of non-whites. With few exceptions these peoples are not, on average, as cognitively able as whites. The average IQ score of our Afro-Caribbean population was submitted to the Home Office many years ago but never officially released to the general public. It was 88. On this basis one cannot expect Afro-Caribbeans to make as good use of education as whites, whether those who deliver it are religious or not.

Naturally, an essentially marxian government insists that human evolutionary adaption stops at the neck. So vast programmes predicated on wilfull political dillusions are launched to close the learning gap. The current one is called Excellence in Cities, a wonderfully dilluded name. An early Audit Office report showed that, naturally, it is failing. But marxian is as marxian does, and the impression of failure has been obscured by the simple device of having everybody pass splendidly at everything. Not for nothing did Mel Phillips name her book on illiteracy, “All Must Have Prizes”.

Church Schools cannot escape this spiralling disaster that state education is becoming. The latest proposals, The Tomlinson Report, only continue the flight from genuine, unequal and, therefore, politically incorrect academic excellence.

We have the handcart. We have somebody to push us - boy, do we have somebody to push us. The destination is known.