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Dilemmas in education for parents and society

By Valerie Yule - posted Thursday, 6 June 2013

A big dilemma in education is parents’ desire for their children to have the best possible education, in classes of above-average peers, without disturbing elements, with top facilities and environments and choice of schools, and to be trained there in the parents’ religion and culture – and, on the other hand, the consequences of segregated schooling that their children must cope with as adults in society.

The answers for parents’ desires could be met within public education.

We could put great efforts into reducing the problem of disturbing children – by classroom methods and by treating the environmental and social problems that produce disturbing children.


We could have choice of public schools within an area, with some contribution by parents themselves, and independence of principals.

We could give ALL schools top facilities and environments.

We could make teaching a top-status profession, attracting top-status people, ready to take on difficult challenges.

We could make all the environments of the city fit for our children and their parents to live in.

Children should learn their parents’ religion and culture from their parents and their places of worship if any – church, temple, mosque, etc. At schools they can have a class a week – why not? – in which to learn further about their parents’ religion and about other religions and non-religions.

Parents need to be aware of the results of school segregation for the adult lives of their children. This can be far more serious than all the desires that make parents seek to keep their children segregated. Look at other countries.


I saw Northern Ireland and the results of their schooling. I saw Australia when we only had Catholic schooling as a distinctive schooling – apart from schooling for the rich. Australia has had its own experiences of how Catholic-Protestant hostility and mutual ignorance has been promoted by separate schooling for the frogs and dogs of Micks and Prods. In Collingwood, then a slum suburb of Melbourne, we had children’s religious wars around our home. “Yah! Yah! You don’t believe in God!” “Yah, yah, Catholic dogs jump like frogs!” “Sister says you’ll go to hell!”

This situation changed with all the immigration in the 1950s, and Catholic schools were open to all. Turkish parents brought their children. “We all believe in the same God, Allah,” although they really meant they thought the Catholic schools had better discipline than the state schools. Catholic schools often had more non-Catholics than Catholics.

The fear and hatred dissipated. The migrants did not have the old Catholic-Protestant fighting traditions.

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About the Author

Valerie Yule is a writer and researcher on imagination, literacy and social issues.

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