jeudi 1 mars 2012

Teacher and principal: "ERC courses are considered irrelevant by most students and teachers whom I know."

Extracts from a letter published in The Gazette :

The recent unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision confirming the compulsory attendance of all students in Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture course came as a surprise to me. I had assumed that parents’ rights to introduce the concept of religion to their children would remain superior to the state’s inclination to do so.

Previous moral and religious courses gave parents the right to choose a variation of the course (morality without religion) that contained no direct reference to or instruction about religion. This parental right has been unilaterally removed as a result of the requirement by Quebec’s Education Ministry that all children attend ERC courses throughout elementary school and for four of the five high-school years. Surely there is a better use of all this academic time than ERC.

I find it unfortunate that the highest court in the land examined this case from such a narrow perspective: whether or not Catholic parents had the right to have their children exempted from this course. The parents were concerned that the ERC course was interfering with their children’s indoctrination into the Catholic religion.

But why should specific information about competing beliefs be taught in elementary schools? And why should schools suggest that any of these religions is worthy of blind belief, much less all of them?

These ERC courses are considered irrelevant by most students and teachers whom I know. Most teachers do not want to teach religion, for personal and professional reasons, and feel unprepared to do so. They might be religious and fear that they will not be able to maintain objectivity. Or they might be agnostic and fear that they might not be able to stifle their obvious doubt at some of the beliefs that some religions promote.

I know this: they all worry that something they say or do may bring the wrath of parents, or administrators, upon them.
Witness the unfortunate music teacher publicly chastised recently by both the Quebec minister of education and the minister of culture because he had removed a reference to god from one of Edith Piaf’s songs.

Detailed teaching of religions should be removed from elementary schools, because it is not an age-appropriate topic. References to religions, on the other hand, should be acceptable at any time, whether in history, English, music or any other course in which they occur as a natural part of the lesson.

The ethics part of the ERC course could easily become part of each school’s anti-bullying program. With great fanfare the Quebec government recently introduced a law that now obliges schools to have anti-bullying programs (therein downloading yet another responsibility to schools without providing any extra funding).

Most anti-bullying programs are excellent, and do more than just preach. They teach social skills that can help all children. Teachers need only one day of training to become familiar with the theory and practice of these programs. Teachers are provided with lesson plans that can be easily adapted to their classroom situations.


The amount of time and money that is presently devoted to the teaching of religion could and should be channelled into new and more sophisticated anti-bullying programs at both the elementary- and secondary-school levels.

It is not so much the proselytizing of the ERC course that I object to; it is the waste of teaching and learning time that occurs when bureaucrats in their bunkers in Quebec City see themselves as the arbiters of a new kind of theocracy.

Ronald Ewing of Ulverton is a retired teacher and principal who worked for 30 years for the Eastern Townships School Board.

Soutenons les familles dans leurs combats juridiques (reçu fiscal pour tout don supérieur à 50 $)

2 commentaires:

Romanus a dit…

L'ECR est maintenant une industrie: jobs, manuels scolaires, facultés de théologie... trop d’intérêts corporatifs pour que ça change.

Walter a dit…


Vous êtes trop pessimiste.

On pouvait en dire autant des cours de religion.