Professor wants Nelson to ditch the Nelson System

nelson system

Former Massey University associate professor of religious studies Peter Donovan wants to change the way primary schools teach religion.

He says the current Nelson System was established 140 years ago by the 1877 Education Act and is now outdated.

The Nelson System made provision for secular New Zealand state primary schools to have “a Bible lesson to be read in school at a special hour.”

Donovan said that may have been satisfactory at the time but nowadays primary school children need to be taught about all the different belief systems that exist in New Zealand.

He says the curriculum should include not only the religions practised in New Zealand, such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, but also non-religious belief systems like atheism and agnosticism.

Donovan said he wanted to trial a new model that would use existing curriculum subjects like history, languages and social studies to incorporate information about world faiths.

This would make it easier for young children to understand the new information instead of introducing a separate subject such as religious studies at primary school level.

Donovan hopes to get the approval of the Ministry of Education to facilitate a trial of this new approach in the Nelson area.

It will be teacher-led, educationally-secular and will allow schools to draw on resources from all world faiths, especially those represented in our local communities.


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News category: New Zealand.