It seems that no matter where you decide to send your kindergarten – Grade 5 students in Stettler, they will be encouraged to worship a particular notion of God.
It’s no secret that the Catholic school board is built on the idea that the laws of the universe are divinely dictated, but it appears the same message is being presented to the students of Stettler’s public school system.
I went through the Stettler public school system, and I can remember a time when the lord’s prayer was read at the beginning of each class. If you arrived late that day, you would not miss the few students who would be standing outside their classroom doors, separated from their peers based on which god they believed or did not believe in. I can’t say for certain that they experienced any sort of segregation symptoms, but I can say that even at that young age, I felt that they must be “different” than me and all my good gentile peer. In a strange twist, I can also remember the day in Grade 3 when we were told that we would no longer be reciting the prayer, which resulted in a resounding sigh of happiness from many students.
Many people believe that core Christian values are an essential building block of a good child, but I disagree.
This may be a predominantly Christian community, however, I don’t think the school, a tool for building on intellect, needs to confuse children with the obvious counter-intuitiveness of religious doctrine. The Lord’s Prayer, as seemingly innocent as it may appear, is a mantra for the already converted, and it should not be drilled into every young person as though it is necessary to keep them in order.
Children are highly impressionable, especially at that age. This is why they so readily believe in the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy; the difference being that they tend to realize after growing up that these were just myths presented to entertain them while they were young. Jesus (or any other invisible masters) on the other hand, tends to permeate through their adolescence into their adulthood, where the concept of an imaginary friend “helps” them cope with all the problems they encounter, deciding to attribute everyday coincidences or tragedies to the mysterious will of God. This takes the onus off of them for any bad decisions they might make, and provides a scapegoat when something doesn’t go the way they wanted it to.
It is for this reason that I am concerned that students pursuing an intellectual path are bombarded by the ideology of a vocal few who maintain it is their right to invoke these types of religious fundamentalism in their children’s classroom, disregarding the concerns of the secular or agnostic.