It is unclear to me how expecting pupils to spend time venerating a being in which they might or might not believe develops their sense of identity and self-worth. Wouldn’t the time be spent more effectively giving pupils the space to engage in structured personal reflection. This could mean pupils spending a few minutes silently thinking about or responding to a stimulus chosen specifically for its potential to develop pupils spiritually (and also morally, socially and culturally). The stimulus might be religious or nonreligious, for there is clearly wisdom in both: perhaps a quote from the Bible, Gandhi or even Marx. Pupils could share their insights with each other, discussing and debating their views, making their engagement collective and participatory and building a sense of communal identity. This is surely valuable, it is inclusive to all (religious or not) and, to be frank, it is not worship and it’s not “mainly or broadly Christian”.
We should reject the idea that worship has a place in our schools. We simply cannot expect pupils to engage in activities that venerate a being they might not believe in. Not only does this violate children’s rights, it offers no real opportunity for spiritual development. Rather, let’s open up pupils’ minds by opening up assemblies as opportunities for personal and shared reflection. This is what many schools do already, so let’s not be dishonest and exclude pupils by calling it worship.
I couldn’t agree more. I went to a school which pushed religion very hard in school assemblies and although I wouldn’t say I was damaged by it, would certainly not say that it helped my personal development in any way at all. Quite the contrary – it almost certainly contributed to developing my utter disdain for unquestioning tradition. Perhaps it’s ironic that Christianity made me hate Christmas.
Separately I can’t fathom why schools do nothing whatsoever to teach children and young people about developing their minds. It’s all about knowledge and passing exams but why is there no room for meditation? Surely understanding oneself is more important than almost anything else?!