Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Thanks for spelling my name correctly

So I was at the monthly Skeptics in the Pub meeting in London on Monday evening when I got a phone call from Samantha Stein, the director of Camp Quest UK. She was doing an article with a journalist from the Independent on the upcoming inaugural Camp Quest here in the UK, and asked if the journalist could speak to me to get a perspective from a parent who was sending their children to Camp Quest.

As I fully support the ethos of Camp Quest, I was naturally more than happy to say a few words.

The article appeared on page 13 of Wednesday 29th April’s edition of The Independent and is also available on line here.

All in all I thought it was a fair article that gave a pretty accurate portrayal of the aims and goals of Camp Quest. Not knowing the journalist, I did have a few worries about how the article might have portrayed Camp Quest and my specific reasons for booking my children onto the camp, but my worries were unfounded.

I am of course aware that journalists often take a number of sources and reviews and then distil those down to the story they are interested in, so I was fully prepared to be edited out completely or restricted to a short sentence. Especially as I was only providing a token parental anecdote to give a sample opinion of those signed up to the concept. The quote attributed to me in the article was, I am pleased to say, relevant and accurately reported.

I did think however I want to use this blog to repeat my other reasons for booking my children onto the camp that did not make the final edit.

I did mention that I would be equally happy to send my children on a general summer camp not affiliated to any particular faith purely for the physical activities (which I know my kids are looking forward to). As I suspect a week away from home would help teach valuable responsibility and social skills, as long as I knew there was no hidden religious agenda. If we lived in a world were ancient myths were not afforded such reverence then I would concede that specific non religious camps would not be needed. Sadly we do not yet live in such a world.

I also mentioned the usefulness of learning some basic logical philosophy and critical thinking skills of which I have seen little evidence in their school work. I would hope that the thinking skills taught are applied to a wider set of credulous beliefs to help children evaluate and reach their own decisions on a wide range of topics such as alternative medicines, paranormal claims and conspiracy theories.

The other point I made to the journalist was my belief in the need to teach children how to think, not what to think. From my research on Camp Quest I have confidence that this exactly what they aim to do. I have no more desire to have my children indoctrinated into an Atheist viewpoint than I have to have them indoctrinated into a Jewish, Islamic or Christian viewpoint. I just want them to be able to think for themselves and reach a logical and rational explanation for the world they will inherit from us.
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