18 October 2010

Vested interests make idiots out of themselves

Good gracious, the supporters of segregation in the education of children in Northern Ireland really love showing their sectarian colours, after Peter Robinson's suggestion that we really need to take a very hard look at the problems that cause our children to be educated separately. The streams of vitriol that poor Pete has had to face have been impressive. And all for a suggestion that most people think is eminently sensible.

Richard Dawkins was on BBC TalkBack today, and made some very good points; various supporters of segregated Catholic education were on, making some really really rubbish ones. Personally, I am *delighted* that Peter Robinson has lifted the lid on this, much as I disagree with him on other issues.

This morning on the radio, they had interviews with boys from two schools, one "Protestant" and one "Catholic". It was (to me) astonishing how open the Protestant boys were to integration and to putting religious differences behind them for the sake of the next generation, but these poor Catholic kids were trapped into a world where they had to separate themselves from those dangerous ideas that were being promulgated in State schools. It was tragic, and all the more reason to bring the Catholic Sector into the State system.

Here is the offending speech in full. Is Peter turning over a new secular leaf? Bring on the debate!


  1. This wouldn't be my experience of local Catholic Secondary schools. Far from it, in fact.

    I think that there may be social factors at work here. Otherwise, why would Catholic Secondary Schools seem more open?

    These proposals will also be interpreted under the rubric of "Protestant/Secular" oppression. (And, in fairness, we Prods do have what the Police call "form".)

    From memory, Catholic Grammars outperform Protestant Grammars. Worth keeping that in mind, too.

    I'm sure that all these problems could be navigated, though.

  2. Graham, in our wee society, no-one is without "form". The radio interviews have ranged from the hysterical to the deranged, and such comments were coming from people whom I have previously held in somewhat high regard. One has to wonder what it is about the suggestion that education be universally integrated that has generated such a torrent of bile. It's loss of control, innit?

    All the more reason to launch this commission and get the job done.

  3. Well, I think some "old boy networks" might be at stake...and it'd difficult to argue for segregation for academic performance AND gender AND religious affiliation.

    The Belfast Telegraph overstates the case today (all things being equal, smaller class size is a good thing)but the whole system is horribly inefficient. At the moment secondary schools are taking the strain.

    In fact, as more and more "Grammars" become Comprehensive to keep intake, I wonder if integration might be the only way of saving academic selection.

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