Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chaplains in schools

Considering it affects me greatly, as it relates to what I'll probably be doing for a fair chunk of my life, I've been thinking a lot about this whole chaplains in schools debate.

Initially, I do reckon its a pretty top idea. Anything we can do get more quality people helping young people in schools, particularly Christians, is awesome. Great stuff I reckon.

I really am a big fan of the fact that they don't have to be Christian chaplians either. Obviously thats where I'm coming from, but we need to recognise the fact that we live ina secular, yet multi-faith, country. To me this means that we can't impose any one belief system on people, and need to allow space for people of all faiths. I don't really care what you think about other religions (thats another discussion for another day) but the fact is we need to acknowledge their existence and the Government should support them if they want it. (Feel free to post up your thoughts from the other day as to why you disagree Gary)

Of course Christians, or people of any faith or spiritual path don't have a stranglehold on values and morality, you'd be silly to suggest that, but the fact is that we can offer students an alternative viewpoint, something different to a normal counsellor, which i think is a valuable choice to offer.

But having said that, chaplians can just act as 'normal' counsellors or youth workers, so I don't get why people are saying we should just have more of them. I agree we do need more youth workers in schools generally, but chaplians can play the straight counsellor card too. I know with some kids I see at school God never explicitly comes into the conversation, I'm just there helping them with their issues. Personally I believe God is there, working through me if I mention God or not, but thats another issue.


Anonymous said...

hey digs,
mum told me that some people (no idea who) did a study (i don't know when...sounds dodgy, but i think she heard it at a PD day on bullying) into which schools have the least incidents of bullying, and what the common factor is. At first they couldn't work it out: all in diff socio-economic areas, etc. they then realised that the common factor was that schools with less bullying were schools with chaplains. interesting hey? and not too surpising....i wonder what factors go into making this the case.

Not sure yet what i think about having chaplains of other faiths...totally understand your viewpoint, and how that is a fair viewpoint for anyone who is not of a particular faith, or not of Christianity as well...but not too sure on that one as of yet.

Nice work mate,

Mim said...

Is the whole chaplain thing a Christian idea- are there many chaplain of other faiths out there?

Would it get to a point where schools felt they should have a chaplain of each faith & parents choosing a school depending on the faith of the chaplain (although the majority of parent prob wouldn't care!?!).

Do you see the role as a chaplain as more counsellor or teaching based or a bit of both? (eg. should chaplains have a basic knowledge of all religions?)

Mum, in her constant quest to get me into teaching, found a course in teaching religious education in sec. schools which I guess would differ in its focus.

AS for the gov. funding- can see the issue but (for better or worse) would you always agree with the schools policies if they funded the job, & how many people really agree with everything their companies stand for. Would think your working for the kids not the government and if being funded by the gov. meant going again a focus on the kids needs then I would question the possition.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why you accept the proposition that the govt should be funding a ministry of the gospel?As you suggest,and research done by the Christian Research Assocition supports you,most of the work done by chaplains is counselling.At a time when the church is disappearing it seems hell bent on accepting govt cash to survive.

Anonymous said...

Before I say any more I will admit to my naivity on this subject having never been to a school with a chaplin and prob don't have a strong understanding of the whole deal.
Also my use of the word 'teaching' prob should be more informing...? given the context.

Where should the money come from? A generouse Christian or church- but then the issue of influence and expectations could be worse than with the govt- each church could end up wanting their 'brand' of Christianity encouraged and 'why are there still empty pews in the youth service?!?'

Agree that having the govt. only 'employ' Christian chaplins would be stupid and asking for trouble- but shouldn't kids have the op. for a wider perspective... rather than just the athism I was taught at school?
Guess it gets back to where the focus is- the kids or making some kind of political/religious standpoint.- which of course is going to be a huge challenge!

Something that allows people like Digger into schools to engage with kids from all kinds of backgrounds and expose them to the bigger picture outside the athist 'religion', i think, is needed.

Digger said...

Yeah I think there are a few other chaplians out there, particularly int he military, theres chaplians of all sorts, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant-and thats just the Christians! Plus Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist etc.

Yeah I reckon it would be problematic ina reas like Springvale, Hampton Park, Dandenong where its very multi-faith. Could be a tough one for the schools to handle.

It depends on the school and the chaplian what role they take, some more counselling, some more 'teaching based stuff.

Alan what exactly is the problem with chapolians doing predominantly counselling? Would you prefer no Christians at all in the school?

Yeah good point about the churches potentially wanting to push their own agenda. Thats where they really need to get the whole agenda of chaplaincy right. Its about serving the school, not evangelism.

If kids come to faith, then thats awesome, but thats not the main goal.