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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1926

The Second Debate

The Second Debate.

On Saturday night, 19th May, a tolerant crowd inclined a listening ear while the representatives of V.U.C. and the visiting debaters, without getting anywhere in particular, raged round the subject—"That a national system of education should include definite provision for religious instruction." Professor Adamson, president of V.U.C. Debating Society, presided, and introduced the assailants to the lists.

In slow, sad tones, Mr. T. P. McDonald (Edinburgh) preaching for the affirmative, opened by saying that education should be wide and comprehensive, an ideal which could not be attained unless body, mind and spirit received equal and adequate attention. Without religious instruction, no man could know himself fully. By religious instruction, he meant, not dogmatic teaching, but instruction in the principles of whatever faith the child's parents held. This sermon, apparently, strongly affected some of the weaker-minded students, who were sufficiently stirred to break into a hymn of praise (to the Salvation Army) which was, we believe, quite out-of-date twenty years ago.

Mr. Rollings, opening for the negative, remarked with great condescension that Mr. McDonald, by delving into history, had, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, "been giving votes to his ancestors." Mr. Rollings took as his text "That religion under the superintendence of the state was in the wrong place." A local paper, with characteristic lucidity, condenses his sentiments to this gem: "Religion is that which pervades all things—actable truths These journalists

Miss Cooley, in a popular speech, traced the development of the school from the church, and asked the audience to believe that religious instruction was necessary now that church and school had separated. We heartily agree with her that "the child is always asking why." Whether it is possible to give it "something definite and concrete which it can understand," we leave our readers to decide.

Mr. Mav (Birmingham) was greeted by several students with a popular nursery song, "Here we go gathering nuts," etc., which, if it had concluded there, would have been equally applicable to the great apes and the singers. In a speech in which faint evidences of humour were occasionally detected, Mr. May page 10 asserted that religion, as a form of emotion, ought to be excluded from a system of education. Religion and morals often confused, were really only customs.

Mr. Reed (London) who, we believe, painstakingly endeavoured to be humorous, said that education should go beyond mere technical training, that the "jazz" age was most unsatisfactory, and that modern women's capacities, typified by the present fashions in hair, were practically negligible—a worthy sentiment. In passing, we may say that some of Mr. Reed's jokes we had seen before; the others, we have not yet seen.

Mr. Campbell created a dazed hush when he crept forward with protuding jaw and glittering eye and shouted with dramatic suddenness, Who is this Education Department that can improve upon the handiwork of the Almighty himself, and delete passages from the Holy Scriptures?" Mr. Campbell appeared much concerned for the defenceless children in the schools.

We do not know whether Mr. Steele has been taking a postal course in self-defence, but he certainly gave a creditable display on behalf of the affirmative. His favourite punch appeared to be a right hook, which would have become monotonous except for his clever exhibition of footwork. We were fortunate enough to gather that, in his opinion, the English Bible expressed the spirit of religion, art, and philosophy, and that religion (emphasized with a vicious uppercut) had as much right to be taught in the schools as civics.

Mr. Molson (Oxford) in a speech that impressed us as a distinct anti-climax, suggested that any compromise on the question of religious instruction would be ineffective, and that any way, it was impossible to teach religion. As is usual in issues of this type, the mass of men students voted against the motion, which was lost by eleven votes.