Poet Laureate pushes for Bible Study in schools

More from the Mail while we’re on the subject of the Bible, this time the encouraging opinion of the British Poet Laureate, who would like to see the Bible read in schools for its great literary and historical content. The Mail reports:

Children are being robbed of their heritage because schools are failing to cover classic Bible and history stories, the Poet Laureate warned yesterday.

Andrew Motion called for all children to study the Bible at school for its ‘great’ educational stories such as the temptation of Adam and Eve, the siege of Jericho and battle between David and Goliath.

He warned that traditional stories were in danger of disappearing from public knowledge because they are no longer being properly imparted to children at school.

Too many students arriving at university to study literature or history have merely a ‘sketchy’ knowledge of Bible stories, history stories and Greek and Roman myths, and would struggle on their courses as a result, he said.

Mr Motion, professor of creative writing at London University’s Royal Holloway College, said the Bible should be covered at school ‘simply because it is full of terrific stories’ .

He said himself ‘I am not a believer’, but added: ‘These stories are primitive. They speak to us about human nature and the recurring patterns of human behaviour,’ he said.

He said he was not arguing for religious indoctrination, adding: ‘I am not for a moment suggesting that everybody be made to go to church during their childhood.

‘But what I do think would be worth thinking about is how there could be some kind of general treatment of this all the way through a child’s schooling.

‘I do think there is a real problem with the education system that has allowed these great stories to disappear, to fade out of the diet everyone gets at school.

‘It’s an essential piece of cultural luggage.’

He suggested classical myths and history stories, such as the story of Diana and Actaeon or the English civil war, should be part of a general studies programme in schools.

He warned that ‘quite soon very large parts of what should be common knowledge will be disappearing’.

He added: ‘There is nothing elitist about this. I just find it really depressing that large parts of our heritage are going to become the preserve of only the academies and only parts of the academies.

‘It seems a great denial of the opportunities open to us as human beings.’

He said it should not be a ‘bolt-on’ in an increasingly crowded curriculum but ‘part of a broader rethinking about what education is meant to be’.

Ofsted has warned that history is becoming ‘marginalised’ with only around a third of youngsters studying the subject after the age of 14.

At university, humanities undergraduates could be given crash courses in the great stories, Mr Motion said.

‘I would start with Christian stories, Qur’anic stories, Greek and Roman stories, but it could be refined depending on what the subject is.’

He added: ‘If people say this is about ramming religion down people’s throats, they aren’t thinking about it hard enough.

‘It’s more about the power of these words to connect with deep, recurring human truths and also the story of the influence of that language and those stories.’

Ofsted has warned that history is becoming ‘marginalised’ with only around a third of youngsters studying the subject after the age of 14.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: ‘It’s a bit excessive – children already get 45 minutes of religious education a week for 10 years.

‘They also attend compulsory acts of worship which includes reading the Bible. Isn’t that enough?’

The Bible is indeed regarded as one of the great literary pieces. It has been studied and discussed for centuries. It is intrinsically a part of western civilisation and culture. It helped define the English language, and other languages commonly used today. It issues some of the finest values and advice available. All this and much more without even touching on salvation, grace, God’s purposes for mankind, and many other valuable assets found in its pages.

Yes please, and put it firmly into Australian school curriculum while you’re at it!


One thought on “Poet Laureate pushes for Bible Study in schools

  1. I would love to see stories from the bible, the Koran, and other religious texts put into the school curriculum, as well as myths and legends from societies all around the world. I think it would enrich our education system on many levels.

    But I do speak with a bias. When I was a kid, I devoured every book of myths and legends from around the world that was in our school library – that was in primary school. On from there, into high school, I elected to study Ancient History and Art/Architectural History; plus chose to study as much English literature including plays and poetry as would fit within the curriculum. The only thing I was not big on was the poetry – but I absolutely loved W B Yeats – once I grasped some of what he was on about. At uni, I elected to study modern fairy tales – fascinating and dark.

    So I guess you could say I’m passionate about the value of these things, and find it fascinating the way they teach about the human psyche and society.

    From an educational perspective, I’d suggest a general one year study in junior high school maybe, followed by an elective course. I wish they’d had that when I was at school.

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