Calgary Catholic School Board misses the mark

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The Calgary Catholic School Board has, in this blogger’s opinion, completely overreacted to the notion that The Golden Compass books are anti-religious. In typically overzealous style, they’ve pulled the books from their library shelves pending a review:

“Given the controversy related to the book, the district will not promote and/or use it to support instructional and/or literacy development pending additional information and initial review,” said a Nov. 29 memo to schools from Ms. MacKay’s office.

“At the same time, since bans and censoring tend to draw increased attention to the potentially inappropriate materials, a course of quiet non-participation is recommended.”

What they’re reviewing is a supposedĀ anti-faith stance the book has. But the school board is missing the point: and the point is education. I’m aware that they are a Catholic school board, but they must decide what is most important. Is it more important to educate youngsters so they can make their way in the world (a world replete with multiple religions and worldviews), or is it more important to ensure that these kids remain Catholic, and never question their views or their faith? The key is balance – in both directions.

I think the primary function of the board should be to instill Catholic values in children while providing them with the most well-rounded education, and the most informed educational rubric, as possible. Hiding something potentially controversial from kids is exactly the wrong way to deal with it. Teachers could use the trilogy to show students a differing world view, outlining what makes the books atheistic and how a member of the Catholic faith might have approached the situations found in the books differently.

The school board is missing an opportunity to teach children something. Instead, they’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that ultimately benefits no one.

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4 Responses to “Calgary Catholic School Board misses the mark”

  1. tedmgreijer
    December 7, 2007 at 11:16 am #

    Excellent opinions; I couldn’t hardly agree more with you. I think that the fundamental mistake that these various institutions commit, is that they see Pullman’s work as a straight-on attack on Christianity, when it should rather be viewed as a philosophical challenge. By withdrawing these books from their libraries, they merely affirm the point that Pullman is trying to make; that Christianity can be a form of tyrannic authority in the sense that it attempts to be the sole value-positing eye, the one dictator of what is morally correct and incorrect; they are clearly undermining people’s right to individuality by doing this.

  2. jonolan
    December 7, 2007 at 12:03 pm #

    Since the Catholic Church believes the only path to immortality is through the Catholic Church, I’d guess that keeping their children Catholic would be their higher priority.

    Once cannot even hope for much less expect unbiased education from any school affiliated with some form of Agenda.

  3. Adam
    December 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    Thanks so much for your comments!

    Jonolan, I don’t expect the Catholic school system to provide unbiased education. But I really think they’re missing an opportunity to further their agendas here, even!

    The thurst of what I meant was that you can’t ignore something out of existence. Moreover, by banning something, you make it taboo and all the more attractive to acquire.

  4. Fish
    December 8, 2007 at 10:04 am #

    Didn’t the same thing happen with the Harry Potter books, because they were seen to promote witchcraft?