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School wrote to parents telling them their eight-year-olds had to attend workshop on Islam - or be branded RACIST on their permanent record

School wrote to parents telling them their eight-year-olds had to attend workshop on Islam - or be branded RACIST on their permanent record | Culture | Scoop.it

Parents today accused a primary school of trying to 'blackmail' them after they were told their children would be marked down for racial discrimination if they did not attend a workshop on Islam.

The headmistress of Littleton Green Community School, in Huntington, Staffordshire, wrote to parents telling them about the school trip to the Explore Islam workshop at Staffordshire University next week.

They were told the Years Four and Six children would be looking at religious artefacts on their visit - and threatened with being labelled as racists 'throughout their school career' if they did not go.

 

Littleton Green head Lynn Small wrote to parents and carers of children at the school on Wednesday, saying the visit was organised to fulfil the part of the national curriculum requirement that children 'experience and learn about different cultures'.

She said the trip would give pupils time to 'explore other religions' and said they would be looking at exhibits 'similar to those in a museum'.

But the letter said: 'Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child's education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career.'

 

It went on: 'All absences on this day will be investigated for their credibility and will only be sanctioned with a GP sick note.'

Today angry parents criticised the school's 'ludicrous' threats and accused Mrs Small of attempting to 'blackmail' them into sending their children on the trip, which they have been asked to pay £5 a head for.

Mother Gillian Claridge, 55, said: 'How dare they threaten to brand the children racist at such a young age?  It's going to make them feel like little criminals.

 

'The very nature of religion is all about choice - on this occasion they were not being given any choice at all.

'It was draconian move and it has left a lot of parents fuming.'

Mother-of-four Tracy Ward said: 'I was shocked by the letter. To be told my kids have got to attend this workshop is disgusting.

'Everyone should have a choice, but that’s my opinion and I don’t want a stain on my kids’ record as a result.

'They are not old enough to be called racist.'

Her sister Donna, whose daughter also attends the school, said: 'It’s not our religion. We should have a right to stop our children going.'

Stacy Waldron, 26, who has an eight-year-old daughter at the school, said: 'I feel my child will be racist if I don’t allow her to go.

'This is my choice, not hers, and she shouldn’t have to pay for it.'

Around 100 pupils were expected to take part in the course, which involves students being shown Islamic artefacts including a Koran and a prayer rug.

 

But after parents contacted the school and council chiefs intervened, they were then forced to make a U-turn.

Yesterday Mrs Small wrote to parents apologising for 'inaccuracies' in the previous correspondence., and asking them to 'on reflection disregard a section from the earlier letter'.

South Staffordshire Conservative MP Gavin Williamson said the original threat was 'bonkers'.

He said: 'The idea of attaching a racial discrimination note to children’s education records saying it will remain on their file for the duration for their school career seems unfair, particularly when it is not the child’s decision whether or not he or she attends.

'It seems a very heavy-handed approach.'

 

Defending the decision, Mrs Small said that exposing the pupils to other faiths was part of the school’s statutory duty.

She said: 'We are a mainly Christian school, but we have to cover at least one other religion as part of the national curriculum.

'This visit is part of that.  They would not be taking part in any religious practices.

 

 'We have pupils and teachers at the school who belong to the Islam faith and it is right for the children to understand and appreciate their faith as well as their own.'

  - Headmistress Lynn Small

 

'We have had similar workshops on a variety of religions in the past - including one on Islam - with no problems at all and the children have absolutely loved it.

'We have pupils and teachers at the school who belong to the Islam faith and it is right for the children to understand and appreciate their faith as well as their own.'

The school, which was told it 'required improvement' in an Ofsted report earlier this year caters for 341 pupils aged between three and 11.

A spokesman for Staffordshire County Council said: 'We strongly advised the school to contact parents immediately to explain no notes will be made on any of the pupils' records if their parents choose not to attend the visit.

'We understand this has now been done.'

He added: 'This is a school matter and the council was only contacted once the letter had been sent.

'We believe it is important for children to find out more about different cultures.

'However parents also have a right to withdraw their children from religious activities.  Clearly it is not appropriate for comments about racial discrimination to be made in these circumstances.'

 

 

THE ORIGINAL LETTER FROM SCHOOL HEAD LYNN SMALL TO PARENTS

 

Dear Parent/Carer,

As part of the National Religious Education Curriculum together with the multicultural community in which we live, it is a statutory requirement for Primary School aged children to experience and learn about different cultures.

The workshop is at Staffordshire University and will give your child the opportunity to explore other religions.

Children will be looking at religious artefacts similar to those that would be on display in a museum. they will not be partaking in any religious practices.

 

Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child’s education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career.

As such our expectations are that all children in years 4 and 6 attend school on Wednesday 27th November to take part in this trip.

All absences on this day will be investigated for their credibility and will only be sanctioned with a GP sick note.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact our RE Coordinator, Mrs Edmonds.

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A classic dilemma: The translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese | Deseret News

A classic dilemma: The translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese | Deseret News | Culture | Scoop.it

Literary Japanese was at a crossroads when four missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in Tokyo Bay in August of 1901.

Over the next eight years, one of those missionaries, young Alma O. Taylor, helped navigate the first Japanese translation of the Book of Mormon across a landscape of changing literary styles. Initially overwhelmed by the language, Elder Taylor played a major role in producing a translation that scholar Shinji Takagi calls "a great literary achievement."


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Anthropology: More than 100 uncontacted tribes are still left throughout the world?

Anthropology: More than 100 uncontacted tribes are still left throughout the world? | Culture | Scoop.it

Many uncontacted tribes still exist. Where are they, and why do they occasionally reach out to the rest of the world? How many uncontacted tribes are still left? No one knows for sure. At a rough guess, there are probably more than 100 around the world, mostly in Amazonia and New Guinea, says Rebecca Spooner, of Survival International, a London-based organisation that advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples. Brazil's count is likely to be the most accurate. The government there has identified 77 uncontacted tribes through aerial surveys, and by talking to more Westernised indigenous groups about their neighbours.

 

There are thought to be around 15 uncontacted tribes in Peru, a handful in other Amazonian countries, a few dozen in the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea and two tribes in the Andaman Islands off the coast of India. There may also be some in Malaysia and central Africa.

 

Have they really had no contact with the outside world? Most have had a little, at least indirectly. "There's always some contact with other isolated tribes, which have contact with other indigenous people, which in turn have contact with the outside world," says Spooner.

 

Many of the Amazon tribes choose to avoid contact with outsiders because they have had unpleasant encounters in the past. The Mashco-Piro, for example, abandoned their settled gardens and fled into the forest. According to Glenn Shepard, an ethnologist at the Emilio Goeldi Museum in Belem, Brazil, this came after rubber companies massacred tribespeople at the turn of the 20th century. For this reason, some researchers refer to such tribes as "voluntarily isolated", rather than uncontacted.

 

More recent incursions, especially by miners, oil workers and loggers, may have reinforced the tribes' xenophobia. In 1995, oilfields were encroaching on the homeland of the uncontacted Huaorani people of eastern Peru. A visiting reporter was warned that any unclothed native should be regarded as uncontacted and, thus, very dangerous.

 

Are there guidelines for how best to approach such tribes? In Peru, laws prohibit outsiders from initiating contact with isolated groups in most cases. They also provide protected areas where tribes can live in peace – but there are loopholes that allow oil and mining companies into the region. Brazil has similar laws and policies that allow contact only in life-threatening situations.

 

Anthropologists have an ethical obligation to do no harm to their research subjects, according to the American Anthropological Association's Statement on Ethics. However, they are rarely the first people to make contact with indigenous groups – missionaries and resource developers almost always get there first, says Kim Hill, an anthropologist at Arizona State University who has worked with several recently contacted tribes. As a result, there is no standard practice for initial contact, he says.


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Awakening the Language & Culture of Ancient Maya

Awakening the Language & Culture of Ancient Maya | Culture | Scoop.it
It is estimated that by 2100, more than half of the 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will have disappeared.

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Charles Tiayon's curator insight, November 15, 2013 12:49 AM

It is estimated that by 2100, more than half of the 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will have disappeared. Throughout human history, languages have come and gone, but the rate at which languages are disappearing has accelerated dramatically in recent years.

Why does it matter?

National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project, which is documenting endangered languages, reminds us that each time the planet loses a language, humanity loses an important piece of its cultural identity. Many of the most vulnerable languages have yet to be written down because their culture and traditions are passed down orally.

One of the primary goals of the Genographic Project is to gather and analyze research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world. Recognizing the importance of preserving indigenous languages and traditions, the Genographic Project developed the Genographic Legacy Fund (GLF) in 2005. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Geno 2.0 DNA Kits goes to the GLF, which distributes grants to indigenous and traditional communities requesting support for cultural and language revitalization projects. To date, 75 grants totaling more than $2 million have gone towards community-led projects.

 
Notes Taker's curator insight, November 16, 2013 2:40 PM

Price of evolution?

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Foreigners Share What They Find Most Surprising About America

Foreigners Share What They Find Most Surprising About America | Culture | Scoop.it
The U.S. has historically had a huge immigrant population. But what makes American culture different from the countries immigrants are leaving?

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Critics Steamed over Bible Translation for Muslims - World - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com

Critics Steamed over Bible Translation for Muslims - World - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com | Culture | Scoop.it
Many missionaries say it's important for Muslims to receive a Bible in their own language. But critics say one Bible translation has gone too far.

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Bracelet and rings translate sign language

Bracelet and rings translate sign language | Culture | Scoop.it
A concept bracelet and rings set uses motion sensors and an LED display to translate sign language.

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Charles Tiayon's curator insight, November 22, 2013 2:03 AM

A concept bracelet and rings set uses motion sensors and an LED display to translate sign language.

This recipient of a Red Dot design award may be just a concept, but it has a lot of potential. Designed by students at Asia University, the Sign Language Ring — inspired by Buddhist prayer beads — aims to solve the problem of communication with the hearing impaired.

It consists of a bracelet and a set of six rings that snap on to the side. When deployed, three rings per hand, they use motion sensors to track the motions of the wearer's hands and fingers, translating the sign language into spoken words, which are then played by a speaker on the bracelet.