Author Archives: Neil Barber

Neil Barber is press and communications officer for Edinburgh Secular Society

ESS Press statement on sectarianism in relation Scottish schools

Saturday 14 December 2014 – For immediate release

A recently published report commissioned by the Scottish government  (Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland Independent Advice to Scottish Ministers and Report on Activity 9 August 2012 – 15 November 2013) claims that denominational schools have no causal influence on sectarianism.

This seems hard to believe.

The report expresses concern about sectarianism but offers no alternative explanation for its existence.

It is incredible that even as the advisory group endorses educational apartheid according to the religious beliefs of parents, it urges schools both to work on their “co-operation and relationship building” and to be “imaginative” in constructing “anti-sectarian partnerships.”

It flatly contradicts the experience of Northern Ireland which has had to deal with this problem at its most acute. Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said in November 2011 "We cannot hope to move beyond our present community divisions while our young people are educated separately.”

Edinburgh Secular Society Education Officer and parent Veronica Wikman says:

“Segregation of children is always going to be counter-productive to the aim of creating social cohesion. It is naïve to suggest that segregated schools are not a huge contributing factor to sectarianism.”

ESS Press and Communications Officer Neil Barber adds:

”This suggestion flies in the face of common sense. Is the faith school lobby so powerful that the Government’s advisory group on tackling sectarianism is ignoring the elephant in the room?”

Kids should get to enjoy Hallowe’en

My pal Scott is five and loves Hallowe’en. He insists that his birthday too is Hallowe’en-themed and his parents happily comply (Originally from Edinburgh Evening News).

What is it about Hallowe’en that kids love? Is it the immersion in the gruesome which works as a healthy end-of-summer catharsis for them? In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche suggests that classical Greek dramatists looked bravely into the abyss of human darkness and affirmed the meaning of their own existence. So is Hallowe’en Oedipus Rex for kids?

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