The Telegraph headline says “Richard Dawkins interested in setting up ‘atheist free school’“, but his Mumsnet discussion quote is more focused on attitudes to evidence. He wrote: “I would prefer to call it a free-thinking free school. I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded.”
As the British Humanist Association have been pointing out, a worrying aspect of the coalition government’s proposal to extend the role of academies in the schools system is that it is likely that many of the new schools will be faith schools, with greater freedom to set their own curricula than existing, non-academy faith schools.
That’s the downside, but new academies don’t necessarily have to be faith schools – the idea is that any ambitious and well-meaning group of people can start a school and shape its ethos. So how about a humanist school? Taking part in an online chat about faith schools on the Mumsnet website yesterday, Richard Dawkins responded enthusiastically when a participant suggested he should set up a secular, or atheist, school. Now it’s worth pointing out, given how Dawkins’s comments tend to be twisted in the news (remember how him saying he thinks the Pope should face legal action of child abuse cover-ups became him saying he wanted to personally arrest Benedict XVI?), that he isn’t at present planning to set up a school, and it’s also worth noting that he stressed he wouldn’t want it to be an “atheist” school so much as a “freethinking” school. Here’s what he had to say…
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]What did Dawkins actually say on “atheist” schools?,