It was nearly two decades ago that I offered to talk at the Anglican school my daughters attended on the multiple and various history of the festival of Easter. This was the school I had attended back in the days of nuns in charge whom I found interesting and interested in religion from both a philosophical and historical point of view. To this day I thank them for allowing me to take Modern History as an outside subject in years 11 and 12 in lieu of Divinity Class. Obviously, they had given up on me. This gave me a comprehensive, eight subject list that covered three sciences, a language, two Maths, English and now modern history. It was all do-able and it got me a Commonwealth Scholarship to university. So thank you, Sisters.
By the time my daughters turned up at the same school the nuns were gone and career educationalists, who must have vowed a stronger allegiance than the nuns to upholding the Anglican Christian canon, had taken their place. The school had also adopted ‘airs’ over the intervening years as it was no longer a suburban Church of England school but now a ‘high’ Anglican school. So I suggested to the then Principal that the girls might find it interesting to learn the background to the Easter festival about to be observed and its links to both Pasha/Pesach/The Passover and Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, light and dawn. How it is thus basically, umbilically linked to the word ‘oestrus’, to their hormone ‘oestrogen’ and how this all related to the northern hemisphere’s Spring hence the high focus on fertility and rebirth of all life as well as the confusing juxtaposed symbols of eggs and rabbits.
I would have also explained that the reason it wasn’t a fixed calendar date but fixed to the annual lunar calendar was because, way back then, we used to track the seasons from planets and the moon cycle. The Principal was appalled. Was this too much information, I enquired. This is a school after all and this is the twenty-first century. At this point, my mother who had held the nuns in high regard (and I would like to believe, they her) made the comment “so it has become a madrasa then”.
Madrasa (madrasah): Muslim college devoted to the core teaching The Koran/Quran (plus mathematics, natural sciences, Islamic Law…) is a higher education system centred on the teaching of The Koran in Islamic countries and Islamic societies
Yes, Australia has schools that do teach The Koran or the Bible or the Torah amongst other curricular but it is not expected that our tertiary education systems would follow suit by deliberately selecting against contrary yet robust knowledge; acting through employment or sacking of academic staff to promote one line of scientific, political, media or economic thinking; deliberately seek funding research in support of these polarities with the promise to then promote such funded research by the much tarnished peer-reviewed system until its picked up by main stream media and fed to a public largely ignorant of the preferential forces powering the dissemination of such selective knowledge. And thus from our universities spring new ‘religions’ created in the names of science, geography and political theory using the powers of inculcation more appropriately associated to openly religiously affiliated schools.
So the question is ‘Have our universities become madrasas?’ Are our tertiary education institutions so open to financial incentivisation from other countries, from our own government post The Paris Agreement, from corporations (beholden to shareholder returns) and from the powerful ‘progressives’ media voices that they have forgotten that their charter is to dispute, research, discover, then dispute, further research in order to further discover?
What is for sure is that our universities are now powerful PR machines and big bureaucracies. At an address last year James Allan quoted that teaching staff in the law department at his university number something like 20 per cent of the total headcount in that School. The rest are administrative. I am going to surmise that in the scientific schools at universities there will be many researchers and feeding off them will be publicists/peer reviewers then administrative staff before we come to lecturers. There is now a well-drawn battle line between the roles of tertiary academics: are they there to teach or to publish? If they are to do both how much is teaching and how much is publishing?
But the question is what is being taught? At James Cook University the students of marine and reef science are now being denied the contrary evidence to the common cant that the Great Barrier Reef is in extreme/threshold danger since the dismissal of Assistant Professor Peter Ridd. Similarly, at ANU and the University of Sydney geopolitical lecturers have been cautioned about describing Tibet and Taiwan as autonomous nations states as this is contrary to the wishes of Chinese funding organisations. And in Environmental Science Schools at various universities the love and passion that some lecturers and researchers may have for, say, the Black Throated Thrush or Leadbeater’s Possum may blind them to the fact that there is a natural loss of species going on all the time – before human impact in fact – and this is part of evolution and always has been especially where highly specialised environments or food sources are needed.
Of course, the big question of the moment is so-called climate science which has reached the level of a grotesquely funded global religion with its many Theists paid by the largess of the governments that signed up to this highly scientifically questionable agreement.
If the liturgy being taught (or should that be inculcated) is so controlled and focussed on politically and economically suitable educational material then what these universities are now manufacturing is the Scriptures, the Disciples and the Apostles and Imams of the future. A new Dark Ages perhaps?
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