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Goliath won’t be beheaded at school anymore

NEWS | John Sandeman

Thursday 21 April 2016

Australia’s largest provider of material used to teach Special Religious Education (SRE) in schools has decided to change one of its lessons following an opinion piece written by a board member of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

This morning, a column by Hugh Harris in the Brisbane Times, and shared across the Fairfax media websites, attacked “The horrifying religious instruction classes planned for Qld schools”.

Connect cover page

Connect cover page

A lesson about David and Goliath was targeted. A lesson plan that suggests a gory role play was quoted.

“Ask David and Goliath to act out the scene.

“Then David took Goliath’s sword, killed him and cut off his head.

“Ask David to act it out…You may need to verbally remind your students to be sensible. There are sure to be a few laughs as your student act out the scene, to keep students focused on the narrative.”

The lesson comes from the Connect Upper Primary series, published by Youthworks which is part of the conservative evangelical Sydney Anglican Diocese (region).

This afternoon, Youthworks issued a press release in response.

“Whilst this is clearly part of a larger smear campaign against SRE by atheist lobby groups, Youthworks does acknowledge that the cultural context of our society has changed since the lesson plan was written, and in light of this we have decided to update our teaching guide for this lesson.”

When this writer taught this Scripture lesson a few weeks ago, he cut out this part of the lesson and used a “Jesus Storybook Bible” video instead.

In the Eternity office, one staffer pointed out that the Hugh Harris column contained a summary of the Gospel: “The moral of the story is that ‘through Jesus, David’s descendant, God would save his people forever from their greatest enemies – sin, death and Satan’. With Jesus on your side you can vanquish even the most frightening enemies.”

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