Discussion by: Salman
Before I begin writing my Discussion, I'd like to point out that English is not my first language and I'm also new to the Richard Dawkins foundation community. This is my very first post.
Greetings everyone. My name is Salman and I'm from a small country called Bahrain (very close to Saudi Arabia). I've recently become an atheist (about 8 months ago) and I'm obviously in the closet, as its dangerous to be out.
I'm a high school graduate from a school that follows the British curricula (Cambridge International Examinations) and soon I'll continue my education in Europe in the field of medicine. In my studies, I've realized that the education system in the fields of science is horrible. We were made to memorize the notes that were only relevant to the syllabus. Free discussion and asking thought provoking questions were discouraged, as there was no time to accommodate anything other than the syllabus.
I really don’t know how exactly the educational system in the Arab community (and elsewhere in the world) should be changed, but I do know that education is the critical component to eradicate religion, and thus it is urgently necessary to change it. In my opinion, I believe that if we had to choose one choice between converting theists to atheists vs. instilling logical reasoning, scrutiny and other necessities of the mind in children, the latter is of greater importance. To vaccinate the children at an early age against the faith virus would eradicate this disease of the mind for once and for all, in a single generation, if done successfully.
There are two questions to be asked: Firstly, assuming that the person in charge the educational system in schools of a country has all the power to change it without any backlash, how the educational system should be changed? From the way I see it, the formal education should encourage children to be skeptical of their beliefs. After all, skepticism helps in weakening religious belief.
The second question is: How the educational system should be changed in order to accommodate skeptical thinking? Should it be through the sciences? How the syllabus of the sciences should be framed to encourage active and healthy questioning, rather than plain memorizing? The biased reasoning that stems from religious belief should be abolished, and scientific reasoning should replace it. Education should help in installing the scientific reasoning.
I am in no position to change school education and if I were, there are obvious challenges, such as how exactly it should be done and preventing backlashes from the religious parents of the pupils but I’ll leave those questions for the time being. I'm asking these questions purely for the sake of knowing more. I’d love to hear your opinion on what should be changed in the system of formal education, and correct me anywhere if I’m wrong (I’m doubtful of my own opinions and beliefs regarding this topic). Also, if you have any interesting ideas to add (regarding what should be changed and how to change the formal education in your country and/or worldwide) then please do.