Integrating education would give the SDLP purpose and set the target for others to follow

So much comment about tactics and process!   If they are to capitalise on a public mood for change, the SDLP like all the parties will have to concentrate on what they stand for beyond the old definitions.

Reforming the education system to promote social integration and a diverse identity would be one big bold and creative approach to “making Northern Ireland work” And it’s actually in their manifesto. The SDLP appear to acknowledge that preserving  the elements of the traditional Catholic state within a state is  an anachronism in a reforming state in which equality and  power sharing  will not be reversed and in which Catholics are barely  a minority.

The SDLP’s view is that the current DUP/Sinn Fein ‘Shared’ education model does not go far enough. That model, which brings Catholic and Protestant schools closer together to share some facilities,  maintains segregation.  It has the advantage of cross party agreement  and  seems to go as far as majority opinion on both sides is prepared to go for now.

While there would be risks for the SDLP in  challenging  conservative Catholic opinion  – which is still stronger  than much comment suggests – assurances can be given that nothing can be done that lacks the whole hearted consent of the tradition that has championed separate Catholic education for centuries. That tradition has a powerful ally on the other side of the divide. Neither will lightly abandon control over schools systems which nurture their separate identities within the framework of a common but very wide curriculum, in the name of a vague diversity. . These have been more powerful forces than casual answers in opinion polls in favour of integrated education. The existing third sector of integrated schools despite its achievements and idealism, has not managed to  provoked wider change.  And yet –  might the balance of opinion  be changing?  What is “parental choice”?  Have parents been asked?

 The SDLP model for integration means” all children wearing the same uniform being taught by the same teachers in the same classroom”. Within this framework it is still possible to have a diversity of religious elements built into the students’ weekly schedule. The present demographic context in education – a very substantial oversupply – presents a tremendous opportunity to rationalise the school estate in favour of integrated education…”

They add : “For example there is no reason why a Catholic school cannot become an integrated school”

But how can Catholic schools stretch their appeal to Protestants and people without faith  if they remain – well – Catholic and are managed by an organisation called the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS)?. This I hasten to add, is not to disrespect the CCMS record of achievement and its good intentions.

The answer may be to vest the top schools management in the regional Education Authority and allocate “ ethos “ to  the management of the individual schools run by local governors with more power. In short,  it means the academisation of  Northern Ireland schools with incentives for rationalisation on integration principles where local people want it.

Previous attempts at reform were botched, foundering over Catholic resistance to   a powerful Education Authority and Protestant ( and  some Catholic)   resistance  to academic  selection at 11. Area plans simply replicated the existing flawed system. Sharing has become the new orthodoxy but it avoids genuine integration.

A DUP Education minister would be no pushover for radical reform even if the CCMS dissolved itself into a advisory network of schools governors. Amazingly a party which relies of Protestant working class support, the DUP has so far refused to contemplate streaming and setting to replace the waning relevance of academic selection   which does little to guarantee standards and nothing  to improve prospects for poor Protestant boys at the bottom of  the heap.

In Fresh Start, the British government  promised “a contribution of up to £500m over 10 years of new capital funding to support shared and integrated education subject to individual projects being agreed between the Executive and the UK Government”.   Whitehall should encourage real ambition in exchange for  the extra funding

The SDLP have raised an issue which could define progress towards a more integrated society. Is this sheer fantasy? Or  they up for the challenge and can they win allies across the board?

 

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  • Abucs

    If secular parents want to send their kids to secular schools they have every right to build, staff and run schools just as the Christians have done. To try and claim every publicly funded school must be secular because secular people deem their own philosophy as somehow neutral is silly, narrow minded and aggressively authoritarian.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    As usual, there’s an unfair amount of polarisation on this topic e.g. “You support integrated education?! Why do you want to destroy the Catholic system?! Hater!”

    Can we not simplify this?

    * The Catholic schools, especially the grammar schools achieve high results.
    Cool.
    Keep these Catholic grammar schools that achieve high results.
    That’s one puppy down.

    * A certain number of people (more than we may care to admit) aren’t so bovvered about the religious aspect as the Irish cultural aspect.
    That’s easy too; Let every school in the land offer Irish, Irish history and Gaelic games.
    Even the ones with very few people of that inclination (it could be phased out after 20 years in areas where they don’t take off).
    Another puppy down.
    People who want Irish culture receive it.
    Yes, it would probably be a source of division and rivalry in some schools but there’s always something to cause acrimony in schools (in my day the rivalry was Nike Air trainers and those stupid rave jackets)…
    Plus there would likely be surprising results too (there were a not inconsiderable number of ‘closet GAA’ fans in my school’, people who tended to be in marching bands too).

    * In areas where there is a healthy mix of Catholics and Protestants but a surplus of facilities then the schools could be merged with the ‘best performing’ school bringing the lions share of the teachers and ‘ethos’.
    Sell the excess assets.
    Another puppy down.

    We can save money, provide a Catholic education for those that (really) want it and streamline the education system and nobody has to learn Irish stuff if they don’t want to (much to their own detriment imho).

    The irony being that IE would be the biggest loser as it would be almost redundant.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Pluralism is a plus in our system. Open the Catholic schools to.anyone willing to participate in most of the baggage and let them get the advantages of it.”

    Agreed, but at the moment ‘Catholic = nationalist’ (pretty much), if that aspect can be neutered then there’ll be more people willing to avail of fine facilities like they do in other places such as England.

    “Stop kidding yourself that it will make a major dent in sectarianism; Yugoslavia had integrated education.

    And its education system (from what I understand) DID make a major dent in sectarianism, however, Yugoslavia was torn apart by foamy mouthed nationalism that undid this denting and there’s no amount of integration that can keep the lid on that. But that’s not our aim is it?

    We surely just want kids to have the chance to get along with people whom they should not really be separated from?

    There are kids in our system who don’t get the chance to get mix with people whom they should logically be mixing with (e.g. working class kids from the same village) because of our automatic ‘huns on the right taigs on the left’ conveyor belt.

    Furthermore, nationalism (of either hue) is an APPEALING ASPECT of our segregated system to some (or many?) people so the comparison with poor old Yugoslavia is unfair.

    “Stop kidding yourself you’ll get better education outcomes in a one size fits all model.”

    I agree. We don’t really need a one size fits all model, we shouldn’t even need a 3rd option ( integrated) either. But we’re so dishonest about what we are actually about that this further ‘should-be’ waste of money is now a major topic of conversation with the typical polarisation that comes with nearly everything that we discuss.

    “Most of all stop thinking you can control how parents educate their kids. Education is more the teaching people about a subject. Its forming rounded human beings. That’s ultimately the Catholic ethos done right. If you take away funding it’ll breed resentment AND parents will still seek ways to educate kids in the manner they see fit, where they can afford it.”
    I agree.

    Hence my proposals accommodate those parents who do truly want a religious Catholic education.

  • kensei

    Don’t agree with the Catholic = Nationalist. I had a non political education.

    It seems to me that integrated education people are those that most want to mess with education for political rather than educational outcomes.

    And nothing wrong with being a nationalist, by the by.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    As a rule of thumb most people of a nationalist background (in my experience) were also Catholic. Granted, it’s thankfully a trend that is on the decline but it’s still a perception that exists.

    “It seems to me that integrated education people are those that most want to mess with education for political rather than educational outcomes.”

    I’d say that is true to an extent but I’d level the same criticism at those who wish to maintain the status quo.

    “And nothing wrong with being a nationalist, by the by.”
    Tell that to the people who had to flee various parts of Yugoslavia…

  • kensei

    Give an ism or structure of government, and I’ll give you an example.of people.killing in the name of it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    True.
    However, you said being a nationalist isn’t a bad thing shortly after giving an example of where integration failed in the face of virulent nationalism.

    Nationalism was/is a negative thing for the Balkans as it turned neighbours into differing tribes and ethnicities and given my time in the former Yu and having witnessed the parallels between it and NI I am convinced that nationalism of either hue is detrimental to the communities of NI.

    Note: to be proud of being an Irishman and being an Irish nationalist are not necessarily the same thing (imho).

  • kensei

    I’m not sure the former Yugoslavia can be explained as easy as “Nationalism”.

    Too much Nationalism is bad by creating virulent opposition to out groups. But most people don’t believe in one world government or completely unrestricted movement. Or say, City States.

    The Nation State has been pretty durable. Good Nationalism binds often disparate people for common purpose and celebrates common culture and achievement; and it can adapt to reflect changes and new comers.

    You can separate being Irish and Irish Nationalism, sure. But believing the best people to govern the island is the ones on it isn’t an inherently evil position.

  • Abucs

    Yes, in many Muslim dominated countries like Malaysia the majority of kids that go to Catholic schools are Muslim. The schools don’t stop being Catholic. The parents send their kids there with the understanding that the school is Catholic and authentically so.

    Very grown up and open-minded of them. If only atheist crusaders in the north were as tolerant and sensible.

    There is a clear link between those brainwashed by juvenile secular atheism, the aggressive ‘ethos’ of the ‘modern’ state and authoritarian suppression.

    A danger to everyone IMHO.

  • Abucs

    A Canadian study :
    https://ecommons.usask.ca/bitstream/handle/10388/etd-07152008-111457/McKay_Archibald_Glen_sec_nc_2002.pdf

    “For non-Catholic parents who wish for a religious-based education for their children, Catholic schools may be seen as a realistic option”.

    Having the ability to choose between one (high school) that has morals, that has a set of rules that is more in line with what we want to teach our children is very important. Being Christian, having a little study ofthe Bible doesn’t hurt anybody and gives them a good background for their moral and spiritual beings. That was very important for us. (Family A)

    “None ofthe families expressed any negative concern about the policy that Catholic schools have requiring children in their schools to take religious instruction and participate in Masses and other liturgies. Rather, the non-Catholic parents interviewed were in favour of the policy and supported it. Not all parents remembered having to sign documentation stating that they agreed to the policy, but all understood the necessity of such a policy and documentation.”

    A South Australian example :
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/big-growth-in-number-of-noncatholics-attending-catholic-schools-in-sa/story-fni6uo1m-1226939166470

    “Demographer Bernard Salt said the high proportion of non-Catholics in SA schools may point to a “warm, inclusive, tolerant, accepting community”.

  • Abucs

    Catholic education is working well in other countries also Ulick :

    A Canadian study :

    https://ecommons.usask.ca/bits

    key quotes – “For non-Catholic parents who wish for a religious-based education for their children, Catholic schools may be seen as a realistic option”.

    (Family A) – “Having the ability to choose between one (high school) that has morals, that has a set of rules that is more in line with what we want to teach our children is very important. Being Christian, having a little study of the Bible doesn’t hurt anybody and gives them a good background for their moral and spiritual beings. That was very important for us.”

    (Research findings) – “None of the families expressed any negative concern about the policy that Catholic schools have requiring children in their schools to take religious instruction and participate in Masses and other liturgies. Rather, the non-Catholic parents interviewed were in favour of the policy and supported it. Not all parents remembered having to sign documentation stating that they agreed to the policy, but all understood the necessity of such a policy and documentation.”

    A South Australian example :

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/

    key quote : (Demographer Bernard Salt) – The high proportion of non-Catholics in SA (Catholic) schools may point to a “warm, inclusive, tolerant, accepting community”.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’d generally agree with most of that.

  • Cosmo

    I would like to know where the motivation, sense of community, activism, idealism and practical thinking is with NI’s recently qualified, unemployed teachers ..?
    We know under performing children from poor or disrupted backgrounds will benefit from one to one coaching, mentoring etc
    So I wonder why aren’t there more volunteer programmes for the FsME boys in particular, over 70% of whom get less than the target qualification, and probably even have difficulty with reading.
    ( fsme – all children who qualify for free school meals )

  • Cosmo

    You could hear this being said by Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen etc etc and Trump.
    beware the fellow travellers, I would suggest.

  • robertianwilliams

    In Liverppol the excellent Jewish day school is 80 per cent Gentile.

  • robertianwilliams

    Still good……open admissions is better than so called integrated education. At least parents know what they are getting.

  • robertianwilliams

    In one Catholic school I visited in the North of England they set a room apart a small prayer room for Muslims.

  • Dan

    If I can dig out my FOI figures, I’ll post them here.

  • Abucs

    In the aftermath of the horror of Hitler’s German National Socialism our left-leaning schools and universities assumed it was the Nationalism that produced the evil. With the fall of the Berlin wall and the evil history of everywhere from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, Venezuela, North Korea to Romania etc etc it is pretty clear it was the Socialism that was the problem. Our left-leaning schools still can’t bring themselves to see the obvious.

    The left’s attack on Nationalism has always been an attack on reason and culture in deference to an ideology of state authoritarianism which demands absolute control. A state which needs to give its children a dumbed down version of history and a set of manufactured morals.

    Calling it enlightenment and progress doesn’t prevent people from recognising and fighting against the madness.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Indeed. I’m not sure how any of that is relevant to my view that nationalism is divisive in a place like NI and therefore not a good thing.
    Madness is seeing someone as a different nationality on account of which church they were baptised in or seeing someone as a ‘foreigner’ because one’s paternal lineage can be traced back ‘only’ 400 years.
    Why do you always drag me into your anti-left rants?

  • Abucs

    because like Hitler and the rest of the authoritarian socialists of last century you continually believe you have the right to get government to dictate to Christian education.

    Like these people you want to criticise the other as nationalist, as religious etc and then force everyone to accept your philosophy through state dictate.

    Build something. Don’t use government to suppress others for your own philosophies.

    I will always rant against such authoritarianism.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You’re just twisting my words and recommendations (as usual).

    No where have I tried to dictate Christian education.

    I have recommended mergers and in some cases the closure of some Catholic schools with fiscal prudence being the foundation but certainly not any form of meddling in how their remaining establishments are run. AT ALL.

    In fact, the only places I have advocated meddling with are the state schools i.e. the OPPOSITE of what you are implying.

    Furthermore I have advocated the importation of the more successful ethos into these mergers which (we are told) is from the Catholic schools, not the state schools.

    “Like these people you want to criticise the other as nationalist, as religious etc….”

    Well of course I criticise those with whom I disagree.

    “…and then force everyone to accept your philosophy through state dictate.”

    What philosophy? I advocated more Irish based subjects in state schools. That’s hardly leftist brain washing, is it?

    “Build something” I’d rather take down a few walls and segregated edifices.

    ” Don’t use government to suppress others for your own philosophies.”

    Give an example of where I have done so.

    You’ve wonderfully demonstrated the polarising strategy that I referred to earlier. Thankyou.

  • Abucs

    It’s quite simple, build something yourself and leave other’s community efforts alone. You are causing the division when you prefer to take down other’s culture because your philosophy deems it as transgressing your idea of inclusion.
    If you ever get around to building something, anything, i won’t be so arrogant as to believe i have the right to get government to interfere with it for my own lazy armchair beliefs.
    If you ever build something, anything, that has a positive cultural, medical, educational, scientific or charitable contribution to society then i will applaud it and wish the community it creates all the best. I will not dictate to it and implicitly criticise it as the ‘other’ as ‘divisive’, as something that needs to change to fit into my views of how you should be. How arrogant that would be.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Rather than reading philosophy off the back of a cereal packet you could also support your assertions of what my suggestions entail with some reference to what I have written.
    A hard task as what my suggestions entail and the dark scenario that you have portrayed bear little resemblance to each other.
    If you have to misframe an argument so very badly (as you are doing, as usual) then perhaps the initial argument isn’t so bad after all.

  • Abucs

    Wrong. You want to merge schools from different sectors and sell assets. Instead leave people alone and build something yourself.

    You want to neuter what you deem as nationalism in Catholic schools. Instead, leave people alone and build something yourself

    Implicitly in your recent set of posts as well as explicitly in past posts you have decided that many people don’t really want the religious (Catholic) aspect of education and they should be rolled into secular schools. I say again, instead leave people alone and build something yourself.

  • kensei

    You know who had the trains run on time? HITLER that’s who. Why do want trains to run on time and agree with HITLER, you monster.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Wrong. You want to merge schools from different sectors and sell assets. Instead leave people alone and build something yourself.”

    I wish to harmonise the system, to leave most catholic secondary schools alone and to do away with waste, overspending and inefficiency. If that means merging some of schools then so be it, there’ll be plenty left for those who wish to truly avail of a religious education.

    “You want to neuter what you deem as nationalism in Catholic schools

    I think you’ll find that I advocated NO interference in the running of (the remaining) Catholic schools.

    “Instead, leave people alone and build something yourself”

    With the money save I should very much like to build train-lines, train stations, hospitals and other infrastructure necessities.

    “Implicitly in your recent set of posts as well as explicitly in past posts you have decided that many people don’t really want the religious (Catholic) aspect of education and they should be rolled into secular schools”

    Nope. I decided that I don’t want to be enrolled in a religious school. If other people want to then so be it.

    However, the system is rigged so that there is very little choice and the path of least resistance at present ensures that pretty much people born in a Catholic background are almost automatically going to go to a Catholic school unless their parents go to the effort of sending them elsewhere.

    If one WANTS to send their kids to a religious school, then fine but I see no reason why it should be the path of least resistance.

    “I say again, instead leave people alone and build something yourself.”
    If we trim the excess number of schools and expensive segregation apparatus then we’ll be able to build more things AND have religious education for those who wish it.
    My way gives us everything.
    I understand that you are bitterly opposed to the prospect of people not being under church control, to which I say perhaps YOU should leave people alone and not be so obsessed with shaping their thoughts (which is really what you’re about, admit it).

  • Abucs

    No, people have the choice of what they want to do, within reason. Saying people are under what you call ‘Church control’ is to dehumanise those people and not recognise that they are independent agents who think for themselves, even if they come to different conclusions than you. I really don’t know of anyone that i would claim is ‘under Church control’ – you make it sound like the fantasy of a bad Dr Who episode.

    I guess if you think that so many people are ‘under Church control’ then you could tell yourself that your authoritarianism is actually an inclusive liberation with you the liberator. This is the madness i referred to above and you wouldn’t be the first who came to the issue of education thinking that people are ‘under Church control’ and therefore you will liberate them by doing their thinking for them.

    If your choice of school is not available in your area and you will not work to build a school with your ethos, then you have to face that reality, not change reality to fit in with what you want and blame others for not fitting your philosophical social engineering.

    Again, you wouldn’t be the first in history to try and implement that madness.

    btw, try building something without taking other people’s money and mandating the rearranging of other’s lives to fit your philosophy.

  • Cosmo

    ????

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “No, people have the choice of what they want to do, within reason.”

    WITHIN. REASON.

    My proposals give people greater choice, a prospect that seemingly appals you.

    If your choice of school is not available in your area and you will not work to build a school with your ethos, then you have to face that reality, not change reality to fit in with what you want and blame others for not fitting your philosophical social engineering.

    The schools are available. If there wasn’t an over abundance of schools then I wouldn’t be advocating mergers and closures or making the case for integrated schools almost redundant.

    “Again, you wouldn’t be the first in history to try and implement that madness.”

    As can clearly been seen by your history of taking things out of context and exaggerations of alarming dimensions any reader of this conversation at this stage would know that this is another lame attempt to portray logical, economic and financial changes as something altogether more sinister. It is tinfoil hat territory.

    “btw, try building something without taking other people’s money and mandating the rearranging of other’s lives to fit your philosophy.


    YOU are the one who wishes to needlessly retain state funds to prop up your philosophy.
    Honestly, I’m going to start playing ‘Freudian Bingo’ with your posts for every time you make a Freudian slip or let the mask drop.
    As for the ‘church control’ comment, I notice how you dedicated half of your post to that bit and tried to make a big deal out of it.
    #hooklineandsinker

  • Abucs

    Of course i did. You ended your post by telling me how you understand i am “bitterly opposed to the prospect of people not being under church control.”

    What rubbish. When you make a comment like that it belies your thinking.

    Supporting the independence of Catholic education and respecting the history of the communities great efforts, sacrifices and achievements is really apparently forcing people to be under Church control in your mind.

    You’re not involved in that, stay out of it, keep your bigotry to yourself and stop dictating your philosophy to others.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Of course i did. You ended your post by telling me how you understand i am “bitterly opposed to the prospect of people not being under church control.””

    Anytime anyone hints at merging a Catholic school or two then you go on the war path and invoke everything from the Paris massacres to Hitler to social engineering to calling people bigots and go to great effort to avoid my actual points and instead portray them in a maniacal light. If it’s not ‘church control’ per se then it’s something not very far away from that.

    “Supporting the independence of Catholic education and respecting the history of the communities great efforts, sacrifices and achievements is really apparently forcing people to be under Church control in your mind.

    Nope, that’s just more (deliberate?) conflating from you.

    “You’re not involved in that, stay out of it, keep your bigotry to yourself and stop dictating your philosophy to others.”

    There’s nothing bigoted about my proposals and you know it, that’s why you have yet to explain what the bigoted point is and why you never acknowledge that my proposals would leave the majority of Catholic schools alone to proceed as they wish.

    But it’s only logical that you can’t admit this as it would completely kick the stool from underneath your clearly preposterous exaggerations thus far.
    What next? Stalin? Tito? Mao? Pol Pot? Year Zero? Or maybe some more sci fi?

  • Abucs

    You first mentioned Yugoslavia with regards to your criticism of nationalism when promoting your ‘inclusion’ philosophy.

    You started talking about nationalism and you criticised nationalism by invoking Yugoslavia. That was you, before i wrote anything. I criticised that position and showed how Hitler’s National Socialism was previously criticised by the West for it’s extreme nationalism but now we have the experience of dozens of other Socialist regimes we can properly re-interpret the evil of Hitler’s National Socialism as another repressive Socialist experience. Yugoslavia too is another example.

    My fair point was in response to your criticism of Nationalism, not anything to do with eduction. Of course i can understand why you would be so touchy because the evil Socialist regimes did, like Hitler, try to force the removal of Christian education under the same bad arguments of inclusion, cost saving, rationality and unified state culture. But i didn’t write about that till now. If we want to look at Mao etc as you have said then we could but if you look back Hitler was spoken about because of you raising Yugoslavia (another failed socialist state) with regards to nationalism, not education.

    You obviously show a bigoted approach when discussing education by talking about the other being “bitterly opposed to those who are not under church control”. That is an obviously bigoted and unreasonable statement and disqualifies you from any sensible discussion.

    Regarding education, you made the comment before that i didn’t address your points with regards to education. I did and explicitly showed the bias and you never then replied to that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “You first mentioned Yugoslavia with regards to your criticism of nationalism when promoting your ‘inclusion’ philosophy.”

    I criticised nationalism in Yugoslavia as it was (and is generally considered by most) to be a ‘bad idea’ for that place.

    I feel it is the same for NI.

    “You started talking about nationalism and you criticised nationalism by invoking Yugoslavia. That was you, before i wrote anything. I criticised that position and showed how Hitler’s National Socialism was previously criticised by the West for it’s extreme nationalism but now we have the experience of dozens of other Socialist regimes we can properly re-interpret the evil of Hitler’s National Socialism as another repressive Socialist experience. Yugoslavia too is another example.”

    I wasn’t advocating socialism so this pointless.

    “My fair point was in response to your criticism of Nationalism, not anything to do with eduction. Of course i can understand why you would be so touchy because the evil Socialist regimes did, like Hitler, try to force the removal of Christian education under the same bad arguments of inclusion, cost saving, rationality and unified state culture. But i didn’t write about that till now. If we want to look at Mao etc as you have said then we could but if you look back Hitler was spoken about because of you raising Yugoslavia (another failed socialist state) with regards to nationalism, not education.”

    And my first response to you was about nationalism, not education, it was YOU who then mentioned education in a very melodramatic fashion (as usual) with your comment “because like Hitler and the rest of the authoritarian socialists of last century you continually believe you have the right to get government to dictate to Christian education.”

    (Which as usual is inaccurate)

    “You obviously show a bigoted approach when discussing education by talking about the other being “bitterly opposed to those who are not under church control”. That is an obviously bigoted and unreasonable statement and disqualifies you from any sensible discussion.”

    You’re hardly an example of sensible discussion yourself given the numerous opportunities that you’ve had to honestly portray my arguments which essentially boil down to merging a few schools, cutting costs and introducing Irish culture into state schools but you prefer to interpret as ‘dictating Christian education’.

    So you can back off when it comes to sensible discussion as you prefer to just repeat the same groundless accusations over and over again instead of any concrete rebuttals.

    “Regarding education, you made the comment before that i didn’t address your points with regards to education. I did and explicitly showed the bias and you never then replied to that”
    No, you just peddled the same ‘build something’ nonsense or made more noise about me wanting to control it.

  • Abucs

    Two things.

    Firstly, with regards to education. It is quite simple. One of us believes that parental choice should be respected and understands that communities build society through things such as schools, hospitals and charity. One of us respects the importance of community choice, development and cohesion in order to build services for people and wants to facilitate that strength across different communities by recognising its independence and autonomy.

    The second person doesn’t want to build anything, sees different communities not as a strength but as divisive. Such communities should be controlled not by their own philosophy but by his (neutering of nationalism, closing of schools, selling of assets, arbitrarily deciding people really don’t want religion, disrespecting of automony).

    Incredibly that second person doesn’t want to see his own controlling nature but wants to view the first person (who respects choice and difference of community) as the one who is bitterly opposed to anyone not under his control.

    No. People are free to work together in different communities. This is diversity. These people create what we call society. People have the choice to take part in what others have created and join different communities. Their choices decide which structures prosper. The disrespecting and usurpation of these basic freedoms causes problems and both represses and retards society.

    Let people build and let people choose what to belong to. Simple.

    Secondly, you not getting the point about socialism

    “It’s pointless” you say regarding socialism. My point is that there has been a lot of criticism of nationalism which derives from the National Socialism of Hitler. Many people have this view which comes from a biased education system. It is incorrect.

    A more considered analysis is that the big state extinguishing all non state parties was the big problem in National socialism. That is, it was the socialism in National Socialism that was the problem. Likewise in Yugoslavia it was he “Big State” brutal repression of identity and religion over decades of socialist rule that caused the problem.

    The lesson is when you try to eradicate differences through a “big secular state one size must fit all socialism” this is what causes the problem. It works against the independent diverse community freedoms and strengths spoken about above. It is incorrect to see nationalism as the problem. There are a diversity of nationalisms and religions. Suppressing nationalism and religion is to suppress this diversity. Now sometimes, rarely but sometimes, different nationalisms and different religions try to suppress other nationalisms and other religions. This is wrong. But it is incredibly wrong for the secular to try to suppress all nationalism and all religion. That should be obvious.

    It is dangerous to try to eradicate nationalism and religion in favour of a big secular state whose philosophy is forced on people. Common sense suggests that and history tragically confirms it.

    Whether it be Hitler or Yugoslavia or about 50 other countries experience over the last 100 years, clearly such ‘enlightened’ thinking causes repression, decline and backlash. So i am criticising your criticism of nationalism and showing in many cases it is not nationalism that is the problem but actually the repression of community through socialist secular philosophy. Many people who want to eradicate nationalism and religion actually cause the problems they think they are solving.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Oh, it’s even simpler than that:

    The first person doesn’t want logically tackle or acknowledge the second person’s points and is forced to portray them in an inaccurate and ghastly light with lashings of Godwin’s law-triggering comparisons, wrong conclusions, deliberate distortions and other irrelevant things.

    The second person has made some financially prudent suggestions which to date have not been found wanting in that regard.

    “Many people who want to eradicate nationalism and religion actually cause the problems they think they are solving.


    Phew! It’s lucky I didn’t advocate eradicating nationalism and religion then isn’t it? Especially as I’m married to a religious nationalist…

  • Abucs

    You’re not being simple, just silly. Why is it lucky you’re not advocating the eradication of nationalism and religion? Has someone accused you of that? Try reading the points as they are written and dealing with that. You might find it less ghastly and more profitable.

    I know who you’re married to. You’ve said it before. My words about the evils of secular authoritarianism were set clearly in the context of last century and the mindset that has been created from bad education. If you take offence by thinking those comments relate to you, then that is your business.

    I notice again you have not addressed the basic freedom of people making up their own minds with regards to where to send their own children for education. Do you accept and respect such a freedom? If not, why not?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Why is it lucky you’re not advocating the eradication of nationalism and religion? Has someone accused you of that? ”

    No, but someone (you) has referenced it on at least on occasion during a reply to me hence I saw fit to nail my colours to the mast and state that I’m not trying to eradicate either of them.”

    “Try reading the points as they are written and dealing with that. You might find it less ghastly and more profitable.”

    The fact that I’m cutting and pasting your own comments shows that I’m reading them.

    “I know who you’re married to. You’ve said it before. My words about the evils of secular authoritarianism were set clearly in the context of last century and the mindset that has been created from bad education. If you take offence by thinking those comments relate to you, then that is your business.

    I didn’t take offence. I just find it bizarre that you keep harping on about it when I’m not supporting it (‘it’ being Nazism and Tito’s authoritarianism).

    “I notice again you have not addressed the basic freedom of people making up their own minds with regards to where to send their own children for education. Do you accept and respect such a freedom? If not, why not?”

    You notice wrong. As I’ve made clear I support a system where if people wish to send their children to a Catholic secondary school then they will have that choice open to them.

    If they wish to send their kid to a ‘state’ school then they will have that choice too.

    The only thing about my suggestion is that people won’t automatically send their kids to one or the other (as is the case now, sort of) and that state schools will offer more Irish themed subjects.

    So evidently I do offer such freedom.
    The fact that you ignore this point speaks volumes.

  • Abucs

    No. If you support parental choice then that is what we have now. Not sort of. We have it.

    Those that want to send their kids to a Catholic school, where it is feasible, do so. Those that want to send their kids to a different type of school, where feasible, do so.

    If you want state schools to offer more Irish themed subjects in the hope of changing the choice of parents then that is completely valid. That is a decision to be made wholly by the stakeholders of state education. Similarly if Catholic schools want to amend their curriculum in an effort to attract students then that is completely valid but it is entirely up to the stakeholders of Catholic education.

    In some ways this is the healthy market place of competition which should lift the quality of education across the board.

    But it is wrong to suggest a change to the state curriculum and then in the same breath talk about closing schools because you assume that such changes will definitely alter the mind of parents to a certain degree. Such proposals are authoritarian in the sense that it puts assumed ideology ahead of actual observed parental choices.

    It would be more acceptable for you to break your proposals into different parts and see if one set of changes actually does create a change in parental choice. You can’t roll them together assuming you are correct.

    For example. You could say that you wish state education to offer more Irish themed subjects or even more Catholic themed subjects in an effort to attract more parental choice support. If in the future such changes do prove to attract more parental choice then this might then affect the level of support for Catholic schools and if this happens then we can look at some rationalisation of education as discussed by the different stakeholders. That approach is completely reasonable and valid.

    The key bit that is missing in your proposal is the ‘wait and see’ if your assumptions are correct regarding parental choice. You have to wait and see if you are correct and if nothing else changes in the meantime.

    Lots of things may change. Your proposals may not attract Catholic students. Alternatively it might attract more Catholic students but there might also be an increase in the number of Catholic kids overall and there is no need to close any schools. Migration may cause a change in the rates of parental choices. More protestants and ‘nones’ might be knocking on the door at Catholic schools as is the case in many other parts of the world.

    We don’t know if your proposals will be accepted by state educators. If they are accepted and implemented then we will not know for at least 5 – 10 years if your changes will be successful to the extent you believe.

    If it does go as you envisage then, and only then, will we find ourselves in a different place where your other proposals might come into play and be considered by Catholic educators with their non Catholic counterparts.

    But to propose changing the state curriculum and looking to close schools without waiting to see if you are correct and the situation is the same as you envisage is to presuppose what parental choice will be before it actually happens.

    That, in my opinion is where you go wrong. To do what you want without waiting to see what the parental choice will be is the authoritarian nature i have criticised. .

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “No. If you support parental choice then that is what we have now. Not sort of. We have it.”

    We have it but at great cost.

    Because of this cost people from Cookstown have to send hundreds of their kids to Magherafelt at the tax payers expense when common sense would see some clever merging and closures in Magherafelt to allow Cookstown some extra classroom space (and this would also partly alleviate the traffic problem which is currently being remedied by yet another ruddy by-pass at the cost of millions of pounds.

    You’re the one who was just repeatedly imploring me to ‘build something’.

    “Those that want to send their kids to a Catholic school, where it is feasible, do so. Those that want to send their kids to a different type of school, where feasible, do so.”

    Same with my suggestion, only at lesser cost, so obviously ‘choice’ isn’t your main concern.

    “If you want state schools to offer more Irish themed subjects in the hope of changing the choice of parents then that is completely valid. That is a decision to be made wholly by the stakeholders of state education. Similarly if Catholic schools want to amend their curriculum in an effort to attract students then that is completely valid but it is entirely up to the stakeholders of Catholic education.”

    I agree.

    “In some ways this is the healthy market place of competition which should lift the quality of education across the board.

    Mostly paid for by the government?

    “Lots of things may change. Your proposals may not attract Catholic students. Alternatively it might attract more Catholic students but there might also be an increase in the number of Catholic kids overall and there is no need to close any schools. Migration may cause a change in the rates of parental choices. More protestants and ‘nones’ might be knocking on the door at Catholic schools as is the case in many other parts of the world.”

    Then you have nothing to be afraid of and you can be content that people still have ‘choice’ and that there would be extra money sloshing around for these things that you’re telling me to ‘build’.

    You’re now arguing my case for me.

    “We don’t know if your proposals will be accepted by state educators. If they are accepted and implemented then we will not know for at least 5 – 10 years if your changes will be successful to the extent you believe.

    Maybe even 20 – 30 years.

    “But to propose changing the state curriculum and looking to close schools without waiting to see if you are correct and the situation is the same as you envisage is to presuppose what parental choice will be before it actually happens.”

    Hokum.

    “That, in my opinion is where you go wrong. To do what you want without waiting to see what the parental choice will be is the authoritarian nature i have criticised. .


    Then closing schools is authoritarian and we’ve had a fair whack of that recently yet it still happened.

    If it balances the books without lowering the quality of education or denying people a religious based education (I they so want it) then there’s no problem, is there?

    School closures are part and parcel of education these days.

  • Abucs

    It’s good that you have specified an example so that we have a real case to see if there is any authoritarianism or disrespecting of parental choice in proposed solutions

    In your example we have a little over 1000 secondary students that currently receive our tax money in transport assistance travelling from Cookstown to Magherafelt for school.

    Over 700 of these cases are students who travel up the Moneymore Rd to either St Pius X or St Mary’s Catholic schools just over the border in Magherafelt. Almost 100 travel to an integrated school and about 150 go to other schools including Rainy Endowment named after Hugh Rainy who funded the school and was one of those great builders of community i referred to earlier.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainey_Endowed_School

    It’s important to note that parents are wanting different things for their children. That’s why they choose to send them to different schools. They are not wanting the same thing. So i hope we can agree that it is not right to force all these parents to send their kids to an integrated school, just as it is wrong to force them all to a Catholic school, just as it is wrong to force them into a state school. I hope we can agree on that so that parental choice is respected?

    Now there are currently proposals to massively expand the number of Catholic secondary education places in Cookstown at Holy Trinity which should take care of the bulk of the 700 students whose parents want a Catholic education but at present travel a little north.

    That leaves about 250 students who at present go to Rainy Endowed, Magherafelt High School, Sperrin College or Kilronan Special School. As mentioned above, that’s the type of education these parents want for their children. I think we can agree that we should try to respect that?

    I personally don’t think that it is a big expense for us to pay for their transport. These are not schools that i would send my children to, but i respect other parents’ choices and do not think it is a big deal paying money for their transport.

    If you wanted to argue that the expense is too much and transport allowance should be scrapped for these children then i think that is also a fair point of view. If the transport allowance was scrapped then parents would either choose to pay from their own pocket, move house, find another school or create, like Hugh Rainy, a school they want in their own area if that is reasonable to do so. (Although very time consuming and difficult).

    So i think if we look at your example the bulk of the children travelling north are to Catholic schools and this will cease with the expansion of Holy Trinity which is part of the usual supply and demand of the educational industry.

    The few hundred left have reasons to send their kids to different schools – Sperrin Integrated, Rainy Endowed, Kilronan Special School and Magherafelt High School.

    I don’t see a problem with letting these students have free bus travel but if people are against it then fair enough, take it off them and parents will choose as stated above. That is also part of the supply and demand of education.

    Given your example, what exactly is your solution of “clever mergers and closures” that respects parental choice and doesn’t dictate to parents?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You just wrote a very long piece effectively supporting my point in this particular case:

    Holy Trinity will take X amount (hundreds) of pupils from Magherafelt.

    This will create numerous extra spaces in Magherafelt.

    So it’s only logical to merge the integrated school, Magherafelt High school AND St Pius flog the surplus assets and by doing so you will have saved millions of pounds and people will still have the choice of sending their kids to Catholic schools, state schools or the Rainey Endowed.

    In theory this extra money could be used to create the proposed Irish medium in Maghera thereby creating EVEN MORE choice for parents (your priority if I understand correctly).

    Win, win, win, win, win.

    Nobody is being forced to do squat.

  • Abucs

    Well, let’s see if it is win, win, win, win, win, win.

    It seems you would be in favour of a change such as the closing down of both Magherafelt High School (say 600 students) and Sperrin College (say 500 students) and encouraging those students to move to the larger Catholic Maintained sector at St. Pius X (say 1000 students) where there are now some extra places.

    Even though Pius X is the largest of the 3 schools mentioned, there will still have to be a large cash injection given to Pius X College in order to take in the extra students.

    Also we have the fact mentioned previously (which you did not address) that parents send their kids to different schools because they want different things for their children.

    St Pius X Principal states that “….the Catholic ethos pervades all aspects of school life” and the school’s prospectus states “….Religious Education is given priority in the curriculum. One of our aims is to give students the experience of a Catholic education.”

    So i have 6 questions about this.

    1. How are you helping the parents that want to send their kids to a state school and do not favour a Catholic education?

    2. How are you helping the parents that want to send their kids to an integrated school and do not favour a Catholic education?

    3. How are you helping the situation where 100’s of students are travelling north to Magherafelt from Cookstown every day?

    4. Don’t you now have more students travelling to Magherafelt because 100’s are now coming from Western Derry with the closure of Sperrin College?

    5. How does the closures help the Sperrin College and Magherafelt H,.S. communities who both have successful vibrant schools reflecting the different ethos of each community?

    6. Do you think it is fair to these communities to move them to a Catholic school, close down their own successful schools, sell the assets of each school and then use the money to open an Irish medium school in Maghera?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well, let’s see if it is win, win, win, win, win, win.

    It seems you would be in favour of a change such as the closing down of both Magherafelt High School (say 600 students) and Sperrin College (say 500 students) and encouraging those students to move to the larger Catholic Maintained sector at St. Pius X (say 1000 students) where there are now some extra places.

    Even though Pius X is the largest of the 3 schools mentioned, there will still have to be a large cash injection given to Pius X College in order to take in the extra students.

    How much money are they going to need when they can utilise the existing (and new) buildings of MHS which are pretty much straight across the street from them?!

    It would be a great sprawling campus with a leisure centre right on it’s doorstep.

    The sale of Sperrin Integrate college (prime real estate) should easily cover any costs (and then some) as well as some of the now duplicated facilities e.g. some of the fields.

    “Also we have the fact mentioned previously (which you did not address) that parents send their kids to different schools because they want different things for their children.”

    I get that. And now they’ll have the choice of a state school, Catholics schools and hopefully an Irish medium too.

    St Pius X Principal states that “….the Catholic ethos pervades all aspects of school life” and the school’s prospectus states “….Religious Education is given priority in the curriculum. One of our aims is to give students the experience of a Catholic education.”

    So i have 6 questions about this.

    1. How are you helping the parents that want to send their kids to a state school and do not favour a Catholic education?”

    The new merged school would not be a Catholic school. It would be a school formed from the best parts persons of each school

    “2. How are you helping the parents that want to send their kids to an integrated school and do not favour a Catholic education?”

    As above

    “3. How are you helping the situation where 100’s of students are travelling north to Magherafelt from Cookstown every day?”

    If they’re mostly going to the same school then you don’t need as many separate buses.

    “4. Don’t you now have more students travelling to Magherafelt because 100’s are now coming from Western Derry with the closure of Sperrin College?”

    No. Sperrin Integrated College is in Magherafelt.
    http://www.sperrinintegrated.org/about

    “5. How does the closures help the Sperrin College and Magherafelt H,.S. communities who both have successful vibrant schools reflecting the different ethos of each community?”
    Money. Efficiency. Cross-pollination of ideas and ethos.

    “6. Do you think it is fair to these communities to move them to a Catholic school, close down their own successful schools, sell the assets of each school and then use the money to open an Irish medium school in Maghera?”
    As the Catholic school would not be a ‘catholic school’ per se (rather a state school retaining the bulk of the facilities, teachers and work ethic of the former St Pius offering Irish topics and sports to boot and utilising the former MHS facilities) then yes.
    Yes I do.
    And before you start with your religious intolerance nonsense there are Catholic schools aplenty in the area. Should there be any money left over then it would make sense to expand St Mary’s to absorb those who want a Catholic education.

  • Abucs

    Why am i not surprised that your ‘clever merger’ basically ends up as the smaller state school taking over the neighbouring larger Catholic school?

    Do you think that any of your ‘clever merger’ plans would ever end in a smaller Catholic school taking over a nearby larger state school?

    You’ve already stated that ‘nobody would be forced to do squat’ and you have shown revulsion in the possibility of being compared to secular state dictators taking over Christian education. So if i take you at your word, you wouldn’t have government dictate your ‘proposals’. I assume therefore you will be asking the community at St. Pius X if they will accept your proposals?

    What do you think the response will be when you rock up at a meeting of teachers, parents, students and Catholic religious at St. Pius X and ask them terribly much if they wouldn’t mind dismantling their school community and allowing the smaller state system to take their school?

    What do you think would be the reaction when you ask the school to give up the Catholic ethos, community, ownership, control and vision at their own school?

    What do you think their answer will be when you say Catholic teachers, parents and students who don’t like your take-over proposal can just go and find another place in a Catholic school that hasn’t been taken over?

    Honestly, what do you think the reaction would be when you ask them?

    How would you react if you got a counter-proposal from St. Pius X saying that they were going to take over the Sperrin Integrated College and make that a Catholic school and that all the teachers.parents and students there who didn’t like it could go find somewhere else?

    Honestly.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Why am i not surprised that your ‘clever merger’ basically ends up as the smaller state school taking over the neighbouring larger Catholic school?

    Do you think that any of your ‘clever merger’ plans would ever end in a smaller Catholic school taking over a nearby larger state school?”

    Why not? I can’t rule it out, each case is different.

    “You’ve already stated that ‘nobody would be forced to do squat’ and you have shown revulsion in the possibility of being compared to secular state dictators taking over Christian education. So if i take you at your word, you wouldn’t have government dictate your ‘proposals’. I assume therefore you will be asking the community at St. Pius X if they will accept your proposals?

    I would support the current ethos which is ‘too many schools, too much money, let’s do something’ which has ben going on for some time as demonstrated by O’Dowd who has merged a number of schools.

    “What do you think the response will be when you rock up at a meeting of teachers, parents, students and Catholic religious at St. Pius X and ask them terribly much if they wouldn’t mind dismantling their school community and allowing the smaller state system to take their school?

    What do you think would be the reaction when you ask the school to give up the Catholic ethos, community, ownership, control and vision at their own school?

    What do you think their answer will be when you say Catholic teachers, parents and students who don’t like your take-over proposal can just go and find another place in a Catholic school that hasn’t been taken over?

    Honestly, what do you think the reaction would be when you ask them?

    It would probably be a similar response to the X amount of schools which have been closed or merged over the years.

    And given that O’Dowd has went ahead and closed schools regardless of what they think or refused them permission to change their status when they wish it then all I can say is that the precedent has been set and is not considered authoritarian.

    “How would you react if you got a counter-proposal from St. Pius X saying that they were going to take over the Sperrin Integrated College and make that a Catholic school and that all the teachers.parents and students there who didn’t like it could go find somewhere else?”

    I would be fine with that IF they could tell me exactly where they had in mind.

    The Rainey has entry assessments so an unknown number of pupils would not make the cut so a fair whack of pupils would have to go to a school with a religious ethos that they might not be comfortable with or go to Cookstown or Ballymena, which brings us back to an expensive transport issue, or to use your own parlance ‘ to be deprived of a choice’.

    There are lots of Catholic schools in the Magherafelt area that could pick up those who are truly aghast at the idea of not having a Catholic education, that is why I weighed this particular example in the fashion that I did.
    It’s called common sense.

  • Abucs

    No, it;s called bias and authoritarianism.

    No thanks.

  • Abucs

    :Those “truly aghast at not having a Catholic education can go ….’

    This is as bigoted as if i were to say that those ‘truly aghast at not having an integrated education can go ….’.

    We are not talking about people being aghast at not having a certain education. That is a very high bar in YOUR allocating of people to different systems.

    We are talking about people being able to choose their type of education. They have chosen, so deal with it.

    If you say you are not bigoted and you think there is a huge waste of money in education then why not start advising more non Catholics to enter the largest system of Catholic education?

  • Abucs

    With regards to the argument of cost. I do not think you have thought this out too well. The old socialists believed that capitalism wasted money in the way resources were allocated.

    So take toothpaste. The capitalists had different toothpaste factories in direct competition against each other, wasting huge amounts of wealth advertising and trying to persuade consumers. They all had different delivery systems; They had different sales teams, research teams, product designers and they all negotiated different deals to procure ingredients.

    Multiply that for each of the industries – from computers to bath towels. From cars to writing pens. From housing to tennis balls.

    Wouldn’t it be so much better and cost efficient to pool the resources and save billions in wasted money? Wouldn’t it be so much more cost efficient to have the government to run this?

    We all know the answer.

    The same with education.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It’s no more authoritarian than O’Dowd’s time in charge.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “We are talking about people being able to choose their type of education. They have chosen, so deal with it.”

    And as stated repeatedly they’ll still have a choice, a very good choice, potentially with the addition of an Irish medium too.

    “If you say you are not bigoted and you think there is a huge waste of money in education then why not start advising more non Catholics to enter the largest system of Catholic education?


    Sure. Why not? If you can think of ways of doing this then I’m all ears, what do you suggest?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That makes little to no sense.
    The government pays for our FOUR education types, it does not pay for McLeans’ toothpaste factories.

    Anyway, you can thank SF for inspiring me, duplication of services is one of their key points regarding a UI, it would have been nice to see them put this into practice…

  • Abucs

    The government doesn’t create wealth. It takes it off others and redistributes it. Whether it be the government redistributing wealth for education or the production of toothpaste, the idea that it is more cost efficient to have one system instead of empowering people to create their own alternative systems has proven to be incorrect.