Do religious schools raise good children? Stephen Law at Sydney Ideas
16 August 2007
Best-selling UK-based author and philosopher Stephen Law will step into the current "values in schools" debate when he argues that authoritarian and religious schools are not necessarily the answer to raising good children.
In his Sydney Ideas lecture, to be held at the University of Sydney next Tuesday night, Law, the author of The War For Children's Minds, will contend that children need to learn about right and wrong and respect for others, but they also need to think for themselves - something that's lacking in many authoritarian-based schools.
According to Law, "liberal attitudes" to religious and moral education have been blamed for "everything wrong with modern societies". This has encouraged a move back to more traditional, authoritarian schools, as seen by recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that show a significant student shift from NSW State schools to faith-based ones.
He says that rather than fostering positive "values", traditional schools stifle emotional and intellectual growth and do not encourage children to take responsibility for their own actions.
"Moral responsibility is like a boomerang," Law says. "Try to throw it to someone else if you like, but it always comes back to you. Schools that insist young people can and should hand this responsibility over to religious experts are fooling both their students and themselves."
In his lecture, titled "The War For Children's Minds", Law, a senior lecturer at the University of London, will point to "growing empirical evidence" that suggests schools that encourage collective philosophical discussion and critical thinking not only increases pupils' IQs but also foster emotional and social growth.
Stephen Law will also be appearing at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.
Stephen Law is a senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of London and the editor of Think, a journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy that aims to provide the general community with accessible writing on philosophy. He is the author of the best-selling books The Philosophy Files and The Philosophy Gym, which tackles questions such as "Where did the universe come from?" He started his career as a postman in Cambridge before studying philosophy at City University, London. UK writer Philip Pullman has said about Law's most recent book, The War For Children's Minds: "…it should be read by every teacher, every parent and every politician."
What: "The War For Children's Minds" - Stephen Law at Sydney Ideas, the University of Sydney's international public lecture series.
When: 6.30pm on Tuesday, 21 August, 2007
Where: The Seymour Theatre Centre, Cnr of City Road and Cleveland Street, the University of Sydney
Cost: $20/$15 concession
Bookings: 02 9351 7940
More information: www.usyd.edu.ay/sydneyideas
Contact: Katrina O'Brien
Phone: 02 9036 7842