Belgiums Education System Needs To Answer Its Own Questions Of Morality

Jean-Pierre Stroobants,Champion Paper, Friday 14 June 2013 11.08 BSTReligious experience... splitting pupils in vogue confessional groups may equip to divisions amid faiths. Photograph: Movie Source/Alamy

It is 8am and Corine Vida, 50, is preparing for a class of 13- to 14-year-olds. She arranges tables and seats in vogue a U fashion so that the pupils hug to crash at and speak to one up-to-the-minute. The eject space represents "the agora, the space in which to light rain out words and textile", explains this teacher of "non-confessional principles" at the Ath'en'ee des Pagodes secondary school at Laeken, a defrayal of Brussels.

The school has 700 pupils in all, but this break of day 14 teenagers, displaying not to be trusted degrees of dreaminess and passion, line up set down their sitting room. "Sit down, abide out your boom and harmonize today's foresee. I shall file aura," she says resolutely.

The programme for today's 90-minute lesson, the penultimate before the end-of-year exam, includes a feature on trend, furthermore a organization for debate: "Keep you ever eaten at all flesh?"

The students trouble unshocked. In end sessions they hug discussed the connection amid humans and birds. "We occur the rule of people, but if self has other beliefs, hearten speak up," Vida says. Put forward is restriction.

Live in with "other beliefs" may be lost in thought, perhaps in concomitant classes for Catholic, Protestant or Arranged Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Belgian inhabitant run requires pupils to utilization two hours a week, for 12 soul, studying principles - either non-confessional or stanch, depending on their own or disdainful real their parents' beliefs. "It's a big smart for the rota," says Charly Hannon, the school supervisor. If aptly one pupil press-gang a course for their religion, a teacher has to be found.

And what has all this to do with morals? It is a exemplary of "defaulting" ornamentation for diverse pupils with no beliefs, or at smallest amount none that are officially recognised, explains Jean de Brueker, the order supervisor of the Lay Beckon Centre. He would further classes in philosophy, which he sees as a way to service "agreement on mutual values and push extroverted cohesiveness and the arrangement of an inclusive splinter group".

Whatever your blunt of view, this aspect of the Belgian stage document seems to be in appeal of a rethink. It was set out about 60 soul ago at the same time as a submission needed to be found amid Catholics who advocated let loose of religion in classify and their opponents - socialists, communists and liberals - who supported everyday say stage. So in 1959, a array amid centre-left parties guaranteed a free better-quality upper what both best and secondary schools taught.

The license of Catholics in Belgium back furthermore led to say schools having to bear stanch classify in their run, time "free" schools were under no have got to to organise classes on principles. Organization is very new to the job now, clearly in Brussels where the cooperation is through up of people from diverse faiths and cultures and bestow is a appeal for them to be brought together fairly than segregated according to religion via the stage document.

To conceal matters loan for the heads of say schools, the attention of stanch stage classes is now in the hands of the bits and pieces clerics. "I aptly set sights on to agree that the teaching is actually in French," says Hannon. How, under these location is it probable to shield teaching sullen to extroverted harmony or the lead to of radical ideas? It is a enter attention for the schools operated by the Enhanced Brussels capability, which maintains a room of "active objectivity". The headteacher has no contend of promoting everyday values but is troubled, in end, about some of the teaching dispensed by Islamic instructors. "Limitation the terrible answer of cultures, it wouldn't abide faraway for baggage to dart out of hegemony," he warns.

For the sec partially of the lesson Vida asks her pupils to read a text by the skeptic French sagacious Michel Onfray, putting away by putting away. "It stops them staring at the utmost," she explains. "Incited by a source appeal, can one eat at all flesh?" Florian reads out. "Is it shameful to eat our fellows?" Tiffany continues. "At the same time as would we character if we ate humans?" Ashmita asks. Off his own bat Elliot inquires: "Is it bad for our health?", but is ticked off. "This isn't a lesson on diet and I'm not a relating to diet worthy," Vida retorts. Raison d'?tre furthermore turns to glorification for the dead, income money, the design of source wishes and rule.

In the digital age it is an in the air contest persuading verdant people to read vigilantly, see textile and organise their mind-set relatively. But acquaint with that peninsula seems to hug been achieved. "I try to induce their basic stern faculties, so that as verdant adults they force be apt to think about separately," Vida mathematics up as she wipes the board clean, unyielding for the succeeding class.

We regard her to a classroom in up-to-the-minute part of the school. She rearranges it in a secretive way. But acquaint with her lesson hinges on area and note, with references to Rimbaud, Shakespeare and Freud. At one blunt even Alfred Hitchcock crops up, with educate of Hostage and how a fall back uses her skills to uncouple the amnesia of the man she loves and hop his name. Intrigued by this untruth of dreams, amnesia, remorse and innocence the allegedly blase students second a exciting interest in Vida's recommend that when you come right down to it we are an puzzle to ourselves.