Time to embrace true integrated education?

educationDave Thompson has been a teacher in Forge Integrated Primary School for over 18 years. 

Here are two facts about myself. I firmly believe in the importance of Integrated education. I also like irony; I frequently have a wry smile on my face. Sometimes these facts merge. For example, when local opinion polls show overwhelming support for Integrated education, yet, even when an Integrated option is available, most people don’t choose Integrated schools first. This is a little unfair, I know, the reasons for this are varied and complex, but here’s another one. Several years back, I attended an award ceremony for a competition among Integrated schools. The Minister, in her address to a room full of school representatives, spoke of how important the sector was. She went on to talk about how the other three sectors were important too. They are of course; it was just amusing that she made special mention of, well, everybody.

The ‘Integrated’ label definitely has more value now than ever before. One single sex grammar school actually advertises that it is ‘integrated’ on the home page of its web site. Yep, there’s irony again. No matter what way you want to define ‘integrated’, surely an all boy school that only selects certain pupils cannot be ‘integrated’!?

So what are Integrated schools actually about? Yes, they are (legally) about intake; they must have a mixed intake of pupils -though as society changes that legislation will become more problematic. But more importantly, Integrated schools are important because of their ethos; they promote diversity and help children and young people to have a clear sense of their own identity, as well as appreciating the identity of others. Integrated schools are certainly not ‘neutral’ spaces. This is problematic too, because there are many schools out there that aren’t “Integrated” that understand this very well. If I was forced to state one fault with the whole Integrated movement I would say that sometimes we come across as pious; unfortunately sounding as if we are the only people making the world a better place. That plainly isn’t true.

Let me try to tease ‘ethos’ out a little. An argument often put to me is that a school is now integrated because it used to be mainly Protestant/Unionist in intake, but now has lots of Catholics in it too. Therefore, it’s an integrated school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased it has a mixed intake, but that isn’t anywhere near enough.

Let me give you an example from the ‘Protestant’ school I attended. When I was enrolled there in the eighties and very early nineties, a sizeable proportion of the school’s intake was Catholic. I don’t know the figures, but if you pushed me I’d say it was probably at least 20%. Yet, despite its integrated intake, Holy Communion was celebrated at the end of every term with a rotating Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican service. A Catholic service was never offered. A union flag sometimes flew from the flag pole, and we sang the national anthem every prize day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against singing anthems and flying flags, but (at least to my knowledge) there was no dialogue with the students, no explanation of why we did these things or any discussion about your sense of identity if you didn’t want to sing the British national anthem. Small things in some ways, I know, but if you want your students to integrate, then teaching them how to make sense of the world by gaining a better understanding of themselves and other people has to come near the top of your list of  priorities.

The Integrated primary school that I have been fortunate enough to work in for the last number of years has a mixed intake, (though as the tribal lines soften this can be tricky for us) but more importantly we have a superb ethos. I can’t list everything, but here are some aspects of school life.

We offer sacramental preparation to our Catholic pupils who want to go through confession, communion and confirmation. To all our pupils we offer the chance to learn factually not just about Christianity, but many major world religions, and to have the opportunity to be able to discuss their own values and beliefs.

In an age appropriate way, we try to unpack the local headlines. At upper primary at least, we will talk about flag protests, marches and riots, and political disagreements. (Some of the most interesting times I have spent in a classroom, were spent unpacking ‘Holy Cross’.) At election times, we will discuss, in child friendly ways, what our political parties stand for.

We try to ensure that every pupil feels that they are valued, as is the family that they have come from no matter whether that family is single-parented, multi-parented, from beyond Northern Ireland originally, hetero or homosexual, a single child or from a large blended family. “Normal” doesn’t exist; it’s just a setting on your hair dryer.

We are a school started by parents thirty years ago, and even though we are now a ‘controlled’ school, the role of parents is still important. Parents can contact their child’s teacher easily and we will do our best to break down the ‘them and us’ barriers that sometimes grow up between teachers and parents.

As I said earlier, there are many schools and teachers who are not Integrated, but are working in integrated ways such as these because they know life is not about neutrality. Despite the uniforms, schools should never be places where everyone pretends to be like everyone else. As far as possible they should be diverse spaces where students begin to consider the kinds of people they are, and who they might become. The ‘Integrated’ school label is only important because it is one route leading to an integrated society, where people are sufficiently secure in their own identity to be unthreatened by anyone else’s.

Let me close with a hypothetical possibility (and a small amount of whimsy). If Belfast’s councillors had all attended schools with not just an integrated intake but an integrated ethos, what would council business be like? Let me suggest that the councillors would still, to some degree, have their respective constitutional allegiances, because their integrated education didn’t strip them of their political identity. But would they have voted to take down the union flag? I don’t think so.

The nationalists, in my fantasy world, would have said that the City Hall needed to reflect a greater breadth of culture, but that taking down a flag that was important to some people, (though lots of people never actually noticed it) wasn’t the place to start. My fantasy world unionists would have agreed, but they would also be more accommodating in making changes to the building because they realised that allowing greater diversity in a public space, doesn’t mean that you’re losing any of your own identity. In fact, the greater the amount of integration and diversity, the richer we all are together.

Not just in education, we all need a vision of societal integration for this part of the world; we all need to consider a change in our ethos that we are, numerically at least, just too small to consider ourselves as two communities. I have found it more helpful to think that we are actually one divided one.

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  • barnshee

    The situation would never arise

  • Bryan Magee

    Tear them down! They are a symbol of incivility. They are an embarrassment.

  • barnshee

    All those prods daily travelling from Coleraine Ballymena etc etc for a job in Shortrs/etc

    You may have heard of the protestant work ethic I have yet to hear of the catholic work ethic

    No genocide?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Year-Disappearances-Political-1920-1921/dp/0717147487

    http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/88792-ira-burn-protestant-orphanages-ground-galway-6.html

    Yea sure

  • barnshee

    When I lived there Derry was universally -by all its citizens- referred to as “Derry” until the republicans made an issue of it.Even the the (then) almost 100% prod rugby club was/is “City of Derry RFC”

  • barnshee

    Repeats

    “In short model– their behaviour on the way Catholic schools have operated for generations and secure as may posts for protestant teachers in the same way catholic schools have effectively ring fenced catholic schools”

    Protestant teachers for Protestant schools
    Catholic teachers for catholic schools

  • Gerrynearly

    The blurb for the book states that ‘up to 50’ people were buried. Terrible but not exactly ‘genocide’. And your other source is a quote from a message board! Hardly hard fact, is it?
    The Protestant work ethic was a theory posited by Max Weber specifically relating to the Calvinist belief that if you worked hard in your line of work it would increase your chances of getting into heaven. Nothing to do with people travelling a relatively short distance to a job that they were guaranteed to get simply because of sectarian discrimination. I know plenty of Catholics (myself included) who travel as far, if not further to work. What does that prove? Nothing
    What about the Catholic education ethic? Does that not explain why Catholic schools consistently out-perform their State counterparts in examinations. Or do you think that Catholics are just smarter?

  • barnshee

    ER no to your enquiry I don`t think Ballymoney is blessed with a “hinterland” you may know different.

    I took a break from a professional life — taught maths
    My shortish experience of teaching was mixed– NI and London East End

    The east end client group was heavily immigrant with outstanding students in some ethnic groups and sadly stereotypical behaviour in others.( On pupil was a UK top performer- several had minor criminal offences).
    The big barrier to teaching was pupil behaviour

    The behaviour in the two organisations I had experience in the Greater Belfast area was in fact worse than the East end Feet on desks- mobile phone “texting” in lessons confrontation rudeness homework a joke weak management. etc etc

    A bulky physical presence and a boxing background prevented intimidation –other teachers were not so lucky

    The pupil base behaviour (prod or mick) was appalling
    Teaching was largely crowd control I was sorry for the odd pupil trying to succeed lost in the atmosphere of poor behaviour or worse joining in.

    Five years was fair enough -back to my (better paid) profession

  • Gerrynearly

    What about just good teachers for all schools? or does that not fit your narrow sectarian worldview?

  • Sharpie

    I’d say that no-one is genuinely listening to the desires of parents or school children. Schooling patterns are a result of years of established practise. If schools were offering the same educational outcomes I don’t think people would give as much of a damn what structure they were governed by. At the moment catholic schools offer better exam results – ergo are highly valued by parents. Protestant children don’t have access to them so Protestant parents defend what they know.

    Get the debate onto quality of outcomes that includes – exam results as one criterion, along with good citizens, ability to be self aware, confident, curious. If children have these attributes they will be able to stand up for their own point of view confidently in the face of valid questioning from others.

    As a start point we have to accept that children in NI are dysfunctional because the default is an inherited sectarianism, at its extreme end, bigotry. That has to be addressed by more than token cross community projects.

    The status quo is wrong. Can we start from there?

  • Zeno1

    Being aware of other groups is not sectarianism.
    Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    90% or so?

    Out of a scale of 1 – 10 how much would you say you hate Protestants?

    “St Patrick College, Maghera is 10 miles from Magherafelt – a long road if one is walking.” Yes. Yes it is. Luckily some evil Protestant invented the mass production model motor car which means that people can complete the journey in very little time.

    If they’re being closed then it makes sense to merge a few with state schools, no skin off your nose as they have back up schools for whenever the Protestants start to burn them at the stake…

  • carl marks

    again this is strange! i think most nationalist posters (and many of the unionists) on this site would probably know a catholic/nationalist youth who had or is going to Queens and if there was a “gauntlet of anti Catholic bigotry” then word would have got around, but you seem to be the only person to have heard of it! unless you can actually produce facts indicating this (something later than say the last century) it will not be believed!

  • barnshee

    “Hardly hard fact, is it?”

    Facts

    http://www.warofindependence.info/?page_id=225
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17099674

    http://www.seamusjking.com/Articles%20Full/portland_house.html“Hardly hard fact, is it?”

    Facts

    http://www.warofindependence.info/?page_id=225
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17099674

    http://www.seamusjking.com/Articles%20Full/portland_house.html

    I also have the “advantage”experience of direct family history on the matter.

    “Does that not explain why Catholic schools consistently out-perform their State counterparts in examinations. Or do you think that Catholics are just smarter?”

    There are a number of reasons- being”smarter” being better taught working harder- being over subscribed helps (a willingness to travel 20/30 miles to get into a “good” school is not unknown Loreto in Coleraine a prime example )

    The decline in Protestant pop levels means the Grammars take pupils other than the preferred “A” relative academic decline in inevitable

    A series of reasons then.

  • barnshee

    “Catholics do not indulge in sectarian aggression”

    IRA murderers are a sure tribute “catholic education”

  • carl marks

    Surely most religions believe that you have to believe in their dogma to get to the promised land! do the Free P’s or the baptists etc believe that catholics can go to Heaven. if you “are born again” by definition you believe that only those born again can go to heaven,
    Is that not the reason that we have such a diverse range of groups all insisting that they and only they know the truth and all others are dammed!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “If protecting Catholics from Protestant tyranny by forming a Catholic canton makes integrated schools unviable, that will be Carl’s problem, not mine”

    No, it would also be the problem of those seeking a united Ireland, can you imagine the contract signing ceremony if the Taoiseach suddenly notices the massive number in the small print at the bottom?

    Taoiseach: “ehm, sorry to be an old jobsworth, but ahm what is this number here at the bottom, the one with lots of zeros?”

    Diplomat: “Well Taoiseach, that’s the price it’s going to cost you to maintain segregated education, segregated civil service, segregated schools and segregated bus stops. Ye see, the Protestants are so anti-Catholic that to look one in the eye will cause a small part of your soul to wither”

    Taoiseach: “Really? All Protestants?! ”

    Diplomat: “Well, around 90% we think”

    Taoiseach: “Wow. To think I quite like yer man James Nesbitt, lucky escape there methinks”

    Diplomat: “Quite right, and we still have Bono under watch on account of his Protestant Mum, can’t be too careful, you never know when they might try and defenestrate ye, it’s their MO ye know.”

    Taoiseach: “Ye know, I don’t think I will sign this document after all the Brits can keep them. It’s bloody expensive and if they’re part of our state I’ll have to meet some of them every so often, I can’t be having my soul withering like a grape on sun baked rock”

    Diplomat: “Very wise”
    ————————————-
    “I do not know what their fears are. Their fears are probably the same as mine. The Catholics in Derry City were in a 2/3 majority. That in itself did not protect them from Protestant tyranny.”

    I see, I wasn’t aware that state schools are patrolled by mobs of B Specials, thank you for highlighting this blind spot.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    A guarantee? How about a set of goalposts with wheels? That would be of more use to ye given how much ye move them about….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Why?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    More people have been bitten than just you yet not all are so unforgiving.

    Should I then adopt your approach and brand 90% of Catholics as anti-Protestant or employ a bit of wit and accept that there’s always going to be minority elements that can’t be reasoned with?

    I think you’re either very narrow-minded or one of my mates on the wind-up.

    If it is the latter case then you owe me a pint….

  • barnshee

    “What about just good teachers for all schools? or does that not fit your narrow sectarian worldview?

    I`ll sign up to that -but that would mean Prod teachers would get the same access to catholic schools that catholic teachers get to state schools.

  • Gerrynearly

    They already have! It is not a prerequisite for a job in a Catholic school that you have to be a Catholic, its just that schools are exempt from legislation but in practice I doubt that many would turn away a suitably qualified & experienced teacher simply because He/She was a Protestant. I know of plenty of Protestants working in Catholic schools

  • aber1991

    I just cannot imagine a group of Northern Ireland Protestants working alongside a solitary Catholic for 5 years and not one of them, ever, ever saying a bad word to him. Protestants like that might exist but I have no experience of such creatures.

  • aber1991

    “More people have been bitten than just you yet not all are so unforgiving”

    Oh, please spare me the goody-goody stories. It was not a minority of Protestants who voted sectarian tyrants into power and kept re-electing them, in election after election.

  • carl marks

    Not only is Carl able to look after himself, his two daughters can as well, they would not tolerate anybody trying to pick on them for any reason, thankfully they are not the weak fearful things you seem to think that nationalist youth are,they are not victims and only a few pratts in the protestant/unionist community would want to oppress them and let me assure anybody trying it will soon regret it they mix were they wish to mix and care not a dot about about the colour or creed of others.
    I am very proud of them and the one with the law degree would have your house if you messed with her or her sister.
    they aren’t that different from most kids i know nowadays, the old days are gone and it’s time you took the tinfoil hat off!

  • aber1991

    I wish he were. It would make it easier to alert Catholics to the dangers of integrated education. Integrated education, by its friends should we judge it.

  • carl marks

    or by its enemies shall ye know it, if someone was neutral on it at the start of this thread,the two of you would have convinced them that it was a good idea!

  • aber1991

    Are you referring to the Catholic Freedom fighters?

  • aber1991

    “and only a few pratts in the protestant/unionist community would want to oppress them”

    That might be your opinion. I have a different opinion. I think that most Protestants would want to oppress them or any other Catholics.

  • aber1991

    “No, it would also be the problem of those seeking a united Ireland,”
    That is their problem, not mine. Many Eire people, possibly all of them, want the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland to lie down and let ourselves be walked over. Some are concerned that Eire’s tourist trade will be damaged. Others are concerned that Eire’s Industrial Development ambitions will be hampered. Others fear that bad example will be given to alienated young men in Eire. The more devout people in Eire are concerned that Eire missionaries in Africa will be embarrassed. The irredentist nationalists among them are afraid that our struggle for equality will hamper their attempts to make friends with the Protestants and so delay or torpedo the prospect of achieving a United Ireland.

  • aber1991

    DID I accuse him of anything – other than having been a teacher and believing that State schools should promote a Protestant ethos? I merely asked questions. If my questions have upset you, I am sorry. I would like to know why my questions have upset you – if they did upset you.

  • Gerrynearly

    When I was working in a state school a few years ago in a staunch loyalist area there were quite a few lads signed up for lessons in gaelic and hurling. They were not shunned by their peers and the world did not end

  • Gerrynearly

    1. All major religions believe that theirs is the one true faith
    2. I had a Protestant pupil tell me, very apologetically right enough, that I willl not get into heaven ‘because you have to be saved first’ and only members of her denomination (Free P) are saved

  • Gerrynearly

    On my pre-marriage course there were mixed couples and they already had children and they weren’t Catholic and it didn’t seem to be an issue! Don’t listen to everything some bloke down the pub tells you. Also, when my aunt converted to Catholicism and married my uncle her family disowned her and she was forced to leave her place of work due to the abuse she got from her former ‘friends’

  • Tochais Siorai

    You’ve no problem calling them ‘staters’ then. And don’t seem to know that they wouldn’t be keen on being described as ‘Eire people’ either. You can find out yourself why. Or not. But it’d give you a break from trolling anyway. Bye now.

  • barnshee

    “Don’t listen to everything some bloke down the pub tells you”

    I speak from direct experience and knowledge

  • barnshee

    ” It is not a prerequisite for a job in a Catholic school that you have to be a Catholic, its just that schools are exempt from legislation but in practice I doubt that many would turn away a suitably qualified & experienced teacher”

    Claptrap “You don`t have to be a catholic” but you have got to be able to “contribute to the catholic ethos”

    I sat on the Supply register for over a year before I got a full time post –despite being in a “shortage subject”- I never got a call from a catholic school

    An English relative– experienced well qualified teacher relocated on marriage. Same experience never a call from a catholic school never short listed for a post in a catholic school

  • barnshee

    Yes those are the ones – Burned the protestant gang of er dog club members to death( La Mo) Blew up that shrine to protestantism er the Oxford street Bus depot and employed a British agent to murder their own members – yes those er Catholic Freedom fighters?

  • aber1991

    The peace walls might be an embarrassment for those who live at a safe distance from the Protestants. Why should the safety and peace of mind of working class Catholics be compromised merely to save you embarrassment?

  • aber1991

    “no skin off your nose as they have back up schools for whenever the Protestants start to burn them at the stake…”

    Prevention is better than cure. The best way to prevent a Protestant abusing his/her power over Catholics is to give him or her no power over Catholics.

  • aber1991

    ” No I am glad there is equality legislation that protects me, that I can rise to the top of any profession in northern Ireland”

    What is your profession?

  • aber1991

    If you have no desire to force anyone to do anything, why have you been posting so much on this thread? It cannot have been about voluntary integration as there is, at present, nothing stopping Catholics sending their children to non-Catholic schools – as your posts have indicated. In view of some of your responses to other posters, I find it hard to believe that you were not advocating coercion to bring about a reduction in segregation. BUT, if you are not advocating any interference with the right of Catholics to keep their children well away from our enemies, I have no quarrel with you and apologise for misinterpreting your posts. Please confirm that you renounce coercion as a means of increasing integration.
    I am not in the least bit worried about the condition of the Catholic Church and would have no concerns about an ending of the teaching of religion in Catholic schools – so long as doing so would not cause the school to attract Protestants. The teaching of religion does not, in itself, protect Catholic children from our enemies. It is the segregation which provides the protection – just like our peace walls.
    You are 100% correct when you accuse me of seeing integration as a threat. I plead guilty as charged. You are again 100% correct when you accuse me of fearing the consequences of Catholic children sharing their schooling with those who are different.

  • carl marks

    You asked him,
    did you ever have dear, little, defenceless Catholic children in your classroom? If so, did you beat them up or insult them? Did you discriminate against them in the marking of coursework? Did you allow Protestant pupils to beat them up or insult them? When the Catholic pupil retaliated, did you punish the Catholic pupil for trying to defend himself? Did you ever allow your Protestant pupils to gang-rape a Catholic pupil? When the police called to investigate, did you tell lies to shield the rapists? If there is any other information you can give me about Protestant atrocities in your school, I would be glad to have it. ”
    if he did these thin gs, that is accusation,
    such confused and twisted thought process come from a sick mind, go get professional help you need it!
    I mean only a sick person brings up wild rants involving gang rape and suggests it something that happens to catholics in state schools!

  • carl marks

    firstly i believe religion should be kept out of schools, secondly i support the right of catholics to send their kids to catholic schools i also support their right to pay for it, why should i pay taxes for catholicism (or any religion) to be fed to children,
    all this nonsense that you are sprouting about protecting our children from our enemies, you and others like you are the enemies of our children.
    the mixture of fear, hate and intolerance you try to spread is dangerous, you would have us all living in our little ghettos with our heads turned away from the world.
    Now i will say one more time things are not like they were in the sixties,sure there is still a small rump of unionist cavemen but you are living proof that there is a (thankfully) small ( and getting smaller) rump of nationalist cavemen.

  • aber1991

    I suggest that, if you have a grievance about your education in a Catholic school, take it up with the person or persons who selected a Catholic school for you. Your resentment is no excuse for putting the children of Catholics in danger.

  • aber1991

    So you are questioning the right of Catholics to keep their children out of the clutches of anti-Catholics. So you think that parents have no right to a say as to who has power over their defenceless little children. A person who displays such arrogance must be a teacher.
    YOU might not care who has power over our children. Catholics might have a different opinion.

  • aber1991

    “shows the need for us to change a lot of things in our society.”
    Who is “us”? What things do “us” need to change? I hope that “us” do not intend to interfere with Catholic schools.

  • aber1991

    So you think that Catholicism should be kept out of schools owned by the Catholic Church. You have a hell of a cheek.

    So you think that Catholics should be financially punished for sending their children to schools controlled by Catholics.

    Why should I pay tax to pay for the education of your children – especially when you resent paying tax to educate the children of practising Catholics?

    If you trust Protestants, that is your business. Your suggestion that financial penalties be imposed on Catholics who do not trust Protestants is typical of the arrogance and intolerance so often displayed by supporters of integrated education.

    Your final sentence. I am not a nationalist – if by “nationalist” you mean a person who wants Northern Ireland to become part of the Irish Republic. Nor do I believe that the “Unionist cavemen” are a “small rump”. I believe that the bulk of the Protestant population of Northern Ireland are anti-Catholic bigots.

  • aber1991

    Only practising Catholics should be allowed to teach in Catholic schools. In any school, which is owned by a Protestant Church, that school should continue to have the right to employ only practising Protestants.

    State schools are owned by the State. They should have no right to promote any religious ethos. Catholics should have the same rights in them as any other subjects of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 2.

  • aber1991

    How do you know?

  • aber1991

    “And on the subject of integration we need to allow a gradual process to change all schools to a culturally integrated model.”

    That seems to be an intention to deprive ALL Catholics of the right to refuse to allow their children to be taught alongside Protestants and might even be an intention to compel ALL Catholics to allow their child to be taught by a Protestant.

  • aber1991

    Protestants should have though of all that before they carried out the Malvern atrocity in June 1966.

  • aber1991

    I merely asked him questions. I had, and still have, reasons to be suspicious. These reasons are:-

    He was a teacher.
    He is a Protestant.
    He is a native of Londonderry or “Derry City” as he described it.
    He has complained about State schools being INFESTED with Catholic teachers.
    He has expressed approval for a Protestant teacher calling for the GAA to be outlawed in Northern Ireland.
    He has described the Catholic Freedom Fighters as “terrorists”.
    He has demanded that State schools promote a Protestant ethos.
    He has failed to apologise for Protestant tyranny.
    He has described a Catholic female teacher as a “member of a murder gang”.
    He has complained about the Catholic Church claiming to be the one true Church.
    He has equated Catholic Church control over the schools which it owns with Protestant Church control over schools owned by the State.
    He has equated Catholic schools employing only practising Catholics with State schools employing only Protestants.
    He has denied that State schools are exempt from Fair Employment legislation.
    He has challenged my claim that the Catholic Church owns all the schools which it controls.

    In brief, he has expressed a large range of anti-Catholic views. So why are you so upset? Were my questions getting too close to the truth?

    Insulting me by questioning my mental health does not answer my questions. Nor does it do anything to reassure Catholics.

    In 1977 a certain Monsignor O’Fiach was named as the new Catholic Archbishop of Armagh. In his first television interview he was boned about integrated education in Northern Ireland. He answered “Before answering that question I would like an opportunity to examine the guarantees on offer.” Thirty seven years have passed since that interview and we still have not been told what guarantees are on offer. Why are we waiting? Perhaps, you will persuade those of your Protestant friends who want integrated education to spell out the guarantees which they are offering to Catholics.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I do dismiss the comparison as riduculous, all I can take from that argument is that secular education has failed in preventing X number of people becoming Jahidists.

    It offers no insight into those who may actually have been prevented from being Jihadi nut-jobs nor does it suggest that these people may not have become Jihadists had they went to Madrassis/Islamic schools instead of mixed schools (although why would the Rigby killers have went to an Islamic school as they were born into Christian families?).

    This is the topic of Islamic radicalisation or even a question of Orient vs Occident, hence I do dismiss it in the case of Northern Irish mixed schools, just because integrated schools can’t galvanise all against Islamic radicalisation (neither can the US military and that’s with heavy indoctrination).

    You also can’t account for how many people who may have rejected such notions purely on account of their integrated background, you have the luxury of headlines and spotlight the rest of us do not: “BREAKING NEWS ON CNN! ISLAMIC MAN SEEN WALKING INTO SUPERMARKET AND HAVING PLEASANT CONVERSATION WITH A CHRISTIAN AT THE REDUCED PRICES SECTION! MORE ON THIS STORY AS IT DEVELOPS….”

    “That is not to say everyone who receives an integrated, secular education becomes a bomber / rapist / beheader but it definitely disproves the idea that Catholic education needs to be dismantled and everyone forced to attend secular integrated education because this will help with social cohesion.”

    Thankfully, as you may finally bring yourself to admit I have not advocated the dismantling of Catholic education nor the forced attendance of integrated schools.

    I had assumed that it was my long winded rants that perhaps submerged that key aspect though Carl Marks also highlighted this. So, you’re ignoring this point or can’t grasp it. Please stop implying that it is my aim to scrap the whole Catholic school system for that is not the case. Understood?

    I dismiss the Bosnian comparison as it was a full blown war of horror, had they not went to the same school there is nothing to suggest that they wouldn’t just be anonymous Serb rapists as opposed to familiar Serb rapists.

    “The claims are made to show the failure of such schools to deliver what some have claimed is the natural respect and tolerance that flows from secular integrated schools”

    These claims are from the most extreme end of the spectrum and completely fail to take into account that those who are positively affected by mixed environments and those who are easily influenced during their high school years.

    If mixing people was such a negative act then there would be no support for cross community projects.

    I have yet to see any Protestants from mixed schools in Dublin beheading people either.

    “Such a claim is patently not true and when made in conjunction with the explicit and implicit demands of closure of parts or all of the Catholic education system then

    it looks very much like bigotry, authoritarianism and intolerance.”

    You say it’s not true and cite islamic headcases and Serb rape squads as evidence.

    I say it is true to an extent (as in not for everyone, it’s not a magic bullet) and am using first hand examples that I have witnessed from going to a segregated school and comparing that with those that I know who went to mixed schools and I would suggest that Northern Irish examples are more relevant to the Northern Irish situation than Islamic extremists, Australian assimilation failures or Balkan wars.

    You say bigotry, I say anti-bigotry, you say authoritarianism I say common sense, you say intolerance I say it’ll help realise the potential for a person’s tolerance.

  • aber1991

    “You actually are insane and possibly the most bigoted person I have ever encountered”

    How do you know that barnshee is insane? He seems to be a very typical Northern Ireland Protestant. If he is the most bigoted person that you have ever encountered, you have not met many Northern Ireland Protestants. I have worked alongside hundreds of Protestants every bit as bigoted as barnshee.

  • aber1991

    If you believe that Catholics would indulge in sectarian aggression why are you pushing integrated education – if you believe (as you claim to believe) that most of the school-going population are Catholics? Perhaps you want Protestant pupils to be bullied by Catholics! Perhaps, you know that Catholics do not indulge in sectarian aggression! Which is it?

  • Gerrynearly

    Maybe your CV wasn’t that impressive? Same for your English relative. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with your religion

  • Paddy Reilly

    Aber’s posts conjure up a world of total Catholic solidarity, but if this exists (which I doubt), it only did so in a Northern Ireland totally oppressed by Unionist Imperialism.

    In the rest of the world different tensions emerge: priests don’t care for nuns, and School-masters do not like priests. And their charges are not impressed by strong association between dog-collars and corporal punishment.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “If you believe that Catholics would indulge in sectarian aggression why are you pushing integrated education ”

    I don’t believe that all Catholics will, I never said they would. There will inevitably be a small portion who will bully people given the chance, same with Protestants.

    People get bullied at school all the time, religion is merely another dish on the bullies’ menu.

    “Perhaps you want Protestant pupils to be bullied by Catholics!

    Nope.

    “Perhaps, you know that Catholics do not indulge in sectarian aggression!


    Most won’t, some will, vice versa for Protestants.

  • aber1991

    “The pupil base behaviour (prod or mick) was appalling”
    Does that mean that when you were teaching in a secondary school in East Belfast, you had some students who were Catholics?

  • aber1991

    What point are you making? You are, of course, correct. A community under siege has to develop solidarity.
    Even in the rest of the world, Catholics need to keep their children out of the clutches of anti-Catholics. It does not matter whether the anti-Catholics are fundamentalist Protestants or aggressive secularists, an enemy is an enemy.

  • Abucs

    We are talking in the context of the continuing pressure on Catholic education in favour of a secular system.

    It is not for me to ‘run along’ and get protestants to do anything regarding the schooling of their children. It is their choice. Part of that choice is dependent on the viability of schools they would wish for their children’.

    You however profess the goals of tolerance and people experiencing others’ culture. If you really do believe this then it would make sense for you to suggest this in line with your stated goals.

    Stripping education from any culture that is deemed controversial is not tolerance nor is it experiencing the culture of someone else. It is a pretend culture which wishes to sidestep tolerance by removing anything that might need tolerating. It is also a very sinister move by secularists wanting to continue the disastrous project of creating their own secular culture and forcing people by law to forsake their own culture.

  • carl marks

    and i ask again how many gang rapes where carried out in state schools ever?
    and this Monsignor O’Flach its a pity he was not more concerned about the children being raped inside the catholic school system, and what guarantees can we have that this will not happen again? seriously if we look at the history of the Church’s treatment of vulnerable children and single mothers then the Catholic education system has proved to be a pretty dangerous place for catholic children,

  • Abucs

    Again we are talking in the context of people wishing to force the closure of Catholic schools for the unfounded claims of neutral secular schools that would promote tolerance which is obviously complete crap. The principle of the state merging Catholic schools into secular schools and taking away Catholic identity is something that I oppose completely.

    If people choose for themselves in NI to have non Catholic schooling then I support their choice. Having the state step in to make Catholic schools secular under the ridiculous claim of neutrality and tolerance needs to be challenged.

    Regarding the failure of the secular educational project in England – If kids were coming out of Catholic schools setting up rape systems against thousands of their fellow citizens then I’d want to question what the hell is happening in those schools where the formation of kids and their responsibilities to society should be lived and appreciated. I could not then claim that people should be attending Catholic schools because it promotes tolerance above other systems of education.

    I couldn’t in the slightest try to say ‘oh what about all the people that might have been rapists that were prevented from being so by Catholic education’ That is not an answer. I couldn’t say ‘hey, there are Catholics having decent conversations with others at the supermarket so ‘nothing to see here’, Catholic education is still what everyone should support because it promotes tolerance’. This would be a bad argument.

    Secular education was put forward in Britain as a way that will promote society cohesion given the diversity they created last century with their immigration policies. In my opinion secular education as a way to promote tolerance clearly has not worked and also has dumbed down the population. It doesn’t matter how many nice conversations are had down the local supermarket.

    If people are chopping off each others heads and running rape prisons then that obviously trumps nice supermarket conversations.

    I agree with you that there is an Islamist influence. But this is the very challenge of a divided society that secularism claims to solve over and above Christian education. It is obviously a failure.

    By the way, I don’t read Carl Marks posts. He could be reciting nursery rhymes for all I am aware.

  • carl marks

    why should i pay for religious teaching for other children, i have no qualms paying for math or english to educate the children of Catholics,protestants, muslims or Jews but if you want your kids taught fables then you pay for it!
    and feel free to not trust anybody you want but don’t expect the rest of us to pay for your fantasies or your hatred!.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “We are talking in the context of the continuing pressure on Catholic education in favour of a secular system.”

    As per my proposal most Catholic schools would remain open and untouched so this statement is incorrect.

    The Catholic system will never be done away with and furthermore it would (from what I can see) be of little benefit (detrimental even) to NI if that fantasy notion were ever to happen.

    So you may now drop that card please.

    “It is not for me to ‘run along’ and get protestants to do anything regarding the schooling of their children.”

    Correct, most of them end up in the state schools, should some of these kids end up sitting beside more Catholics than before due to financial necessity and budgetry constraints then likewise it is also none of your beeswax.

    ” It is their choice. Part of that choice is dependent on the viability of schools they would wish for their children’.”

    Correct.

    “You however profess the goals of tolerance and people experiencing others’ culture. If you really do believe this then it would make sense for you to suggest this in line with your stated goals.”

    I have done so on numerous occasions. The cultural argument is my own aim and the financial argument is the horseshoe in the boxing glove, you can’t ignore it.

    “Stripping education from any culture that is deemed controversial is not tolerance nor is it experiencing the culture of someone else.”

    Who’s stripping education from culture?

    My suggestion clearly adds culture to state education? You’ve twisted that 180 degrees.

    “It is a pretend culture which wishes to sidestep tolerance by removing anything that might need tolerating.”

    Similar to above. We hear on this very site about how intolerant us prods are to GAA and Irish, introducing this to state schools (with a large number of potential enthusiasts) brings this aspect (i.e. ‘that which might need tolerating’) right into the coalface of Protestant daily life.

    ” It is also a very sinister move by secularists wanting to continue the disastrous project of creating their own secular culture and forcing people by law to forsake their own culture.”

    Sinister? It’s a very clear attempt to introduce ‘suspect’ culture to people most often denied the opportunity given the current set up.

    And your last bit; “forcing people by law to forsake their own culture” makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Again we are talking in the context of people wishing to force the closure of Catholic schools for the unfounded claims of neutral secular schools that would promote tolerance which is obviously complete crap.”

    You say that with such conviction as if it has been established as a scientific fact.

    “The principle of the state merging Catholic schools into secular schools and taking away Catholic identity is something that I oppose completely.”

    Oppose away, the exchequer may take a different view some day and start wielding the axe in a much more draconian fashion than I have suggested.

    “If people choose for themselves in NI to have non Catholic schooling then I support their choice.”

    As do I, if people want to go to the trouble of sending their kids to ‘Taig Free High School’ then they may fill their boots as far as I’m concerned.
    There is no need for the state to go to the expense to make this hard line position the default position (as it is currently).

    “Having the state step in to make Catholic schools secular under the ridiculous claim of neutrality and tolerance needs to be challenged.”

    The state is closing schools, Catholic and Protestant.
    So the state is already involved.
    If it decided to merge St Pius and MHS and close the Integrated school then none of your main arguments have been violated for Catholic choice would still be available.

    As for your conviction that mixing people has no positive contribution to neutrality and tolerance I’d really like to know what you base that on rather than Islamic extremists and Balkan rape gangs.

    Also, how many positive examples do you require before you would rethink your assertion? 10? 100? 1000?

    “Regarding the failure of the secular educational project in England – If kids were coming out of Catholic schools setting up rape systems against thousands of their fellow citizens then I’d want to question what the hell is happening in those schools where the formation of kids and their responsibilities to society should be lived and appreciated. I could not then claim that people should be attending Catholic schools because it promotes tolerance above other systems of education.

    I couldn’t in the slightest try to say ‘oh what about all the people that might have been rapists that were prevented from being so by Catholic education’ That is not an answer. I couldn’t say ‘hey, there are Catholics having decent conversations with others at the supermarket so ‘nothing to see here’, Catholic education is still what everyone should support because it promotes tolerance’. This would be a bad argument.”

    All you’ve done there is attempt to flip my argument on it’s head and done so very badly.

    You came out with a pile of tripe regarding the extreme edges of Anglo-Islamic interaction and tried to clumsily hammer it into a Catholic vs secular argument.

    I am not saying that secular integration works in all places for all religions or creeds all if the time, I am simply saying that there is an overly expensive set up in NI that creates a path of least resistance to religious segregation.

    A few tweaks here and there could help alleviate (not COMPLETELY CURE, before you play that card again) this situation both culturally and financially.

    “By the way, I don’t read Carl Marks posts. He could be reciting nursery rhymes for all I am aware.”

    Actually he’s reciting positive examples of integrated education so I’m not surprised that you don’t read them.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I was thinking about your Irish & police comments again, was reading about some of Ned Kelly’s adventures and right enough to the last man it was the long Hibernian arm of the law.

  • Croiteir

    I will say it again in the hope that you can understand it. Catholics who wish to exercise their right to send children to Catholic schools are being discriminated against as they do not have the same support as children from other schools, or to put it the other way around, children who wish go to other schools receive preferential treatment when compared to children who wish to go to Catholic schools

  • carl marks

    you post as if there is absolutely no history of religious schools producing terrorist and rapists, criminals etc! and perhaps we could keep this in context of NI, perhaps you could look at the the monsters that our segregated system produced !

    plus recent revelations would show very clearly that just because someone is religious it really does not mean that they should be allowed near children!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I can’t understand it as you have not named the religious group that receives the preferential treatment (as per your definition).

    ” if a group receives different treatment from another it is receiving either positive or negative discrimination.” & “time to see catholics as people with equal rights”

    You have quite clearly set up the criteria in terms of religion and in terms of one group receiving different treatment.

    So, in a religious context (yours) and one of discrimination you are obliged to provide the other group (in this case religion) that is the beneficiary of said discrimination.

    If you claim Catholics are discriminated against by OTHER CATHOLICS (as is possible in the current comparison) then your discrimination assertion is incorrect.

    I won’t deny that the transport idea certainly sounds like a flawed plan but that’s not the same as denying Catholics equal rights.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “If you believe that Catholics would indulge in sectarian aggression why are you pushing integrated education – if you believe (as you claim to believe) that most of the school-going population are Catholics? ”

    I don’t believe all Catholics will, some Catholics may, a bully’s a bully an aw that.

    “Perhaps you want Protestant pupils to be bullied by Catholics!”

    Nope

    “Perhaps, you know that Catholics do not indulge in sectarian aggression!”

    Nope

    “Which is it?”

    Neither.

  • carl marks

    talking about nursery rhymes could you please prove this claim”

    “setting up rape systems against thousands of their fellow citizen”

    “THOUSANDS” really

    And we can all point to the organised rape gangs inside the catholic church and the killers that that system has produced.
    and just so everybody knows, the reason you don’t reply to my posts is that i have the nasty habit of asking you to prove your claims and you have made some wild ones in your time.

  • aber1991

    Those who do not want to hear never will.

  • aber1991

    “It seemed to be that those who went there from day one had no problem”
    I suggest that those who went there from day one knew their place. They knew to keep their heads down.

  • aber1991

    “and i ask again how many gang rapes where carried out in state schools ever?”

    “again”. I did not know you had asked me that question. I must have over-looked it. I apologise. I do not know how many Catholic students have been gang-raped in State schools. Perhaps some other poster will provide the information. I would love to have it.

    Your snide anti-Catholic outburst against Monsignor O’Fiach does not change the fact that no supporter of integrated education has publically spelt out the guarantees which they are offering to the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland that Catholics would get fair play within a single education system.

    If you think that the Catholic Education system is a dangerous place for Catholic children, you were wise to keep YOUR children away from it. By that same token, Catholics who think that schools not controlled by Catholics are a dangerous place for THEIR children are wise to keep THEIR children away from such schools.

    P.S. If one is to judge from reports from our Courts, some non-Catholic schools seem to have been very dangerous places for children of any religion or of none.

  • carl marks

    I am, sure you would love to have proof of catholics being gang raped in state school’s but since it is a figment of your imagination then proof does not exist,

    Was O,Fiach not very involved in covering up the rape of school children by coercing then into signing non disclosure documents, and allowed the abusers to keep working with children?
    Yep there’s the type of person we can trust our children with!

    and please produce these ” reports from our courts” that prove ”

    some non-Catholic schools seem to have been very dangerous places for children of any religion or of none.”

    something
    A, from the beginning of this century at least.
    B. relevant to NI.
    C.something that only happened in state school’s, with a comparable event is a Catholic school.
    will fit the bill

  • carl marks

    Aw well, take it you concede the point then!

  • Paddy Reilly

    The quickest way to right the status quo is to end partition, and thus to deprive sectarianism of political enforcement.

    It would be as well though to consider the world after partition. Would not sectarian schools for various branches of Protestant be the only way they could preserve their culture in such a situation?

  • barnshee

    The school contained both lots prod and mick
    My assessment applies to both

  • aber1991

    “I am, sure you would love to have proof of catholics being gang raped in state school’s”

    If by “state school’s” you mean “State schools”, you are correct.

    If by “O’Fiach” you mean “Cardinal O’Fiach” where is your evidence that he was “very involved in covering up the rape of school children by coercing them into signing non-disclosure documents”? Please stick to facts.

    Even if Cardinal O’Fiach had behaved as you insinuate, that would not alter the FACT that YOU and other advocates of integrated education have failed to offer any guarantees that Catholic teachers, children and the Catholic religion would get fair play in a single education system. Why have you failed?

    WHY do you want MY examples to date from the beginning of this century? Most of YOUR grievances against the Catholic Church seem to date from the last century.

    P.S. I think Lindsay Browne of Bangor Grammar School was convicted in this century. Is that permitted under YOUR rules?

  • aber1991

    Thank you for that information.

    How did the school have lots of both tribes? Was it an integrated school? I would be surprised if the rough Belfast school were an officially integrated school as it is the more polite types who send their children to such places.

    Did you insult or beat up any of your Catholic students? Did you always give them lower marks for coursework than you give to the Protestant students?

    Did you see or hear any of the Protestant students assault or insult a Catholic student? If so, what did you do?

    What games were played in the school? Was it Protestant rugby or Catholic Gaelic football, Protestant hockey or Catholic hurling?

    Once again, thank you for your information. You seem to be the only poster on this thread who is willing to give me a civilised answer. The integrated education types go down my throat when I ask questions about the treatment of Catholic children in schools not controlled by the Catholic Church.

  • Croiteir

    I suppose that this is too much a leap for someone who can only think in binary terms, but I will persevere. If any group is placed at a disadvantage to another, in this case children attending Catholic schools then they are being discriminated against. It matters not what the religion of the other children are.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You said specifically that it was Catholics that were being discriminated against and cited “if a group receives different treatment from another it is receiving either positive or negative discrimination.”.

    You spoke in religious terms yet can not name the other religious party that is the counter to your stated discriminated group.

    Do you need a lend of Aber1991’s mobile goalposts?