Outrage as school asks pupils to pretend to convert to Islam for homework assignment

The assignment said 'Please also note this is a piece of creative writing and completely fictional YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY CONVERTING TO ISLAM', but despite assurances, some locals still expressed concerns

A school in Guernsey has provoked outrage after asking pupils to write a letter pretending they are converting to Islam.

Pupils aged 12 and 13 at Les Beauchamps High School were asked to pen the creative writing exercise as part of a religious education lesson. They were asked to write a letter to their parents explaining that they had converted to Islam and hope that their family would respect their decision. 

The homework briefing stated: “Complete the letter you started or started planning in class to your family on how you are converting to Islam. Include: How you’re feeling, how becoming a Muslim has changed your life, how much you love your family and hope they can accept your choice.

“Focus: How would it make you feel having to tell your parents this? How would/ could they react?”

The assignment ended with the clarification: “Please also note this is a piece of creative writing and completely fictional YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY CONVERTING TO ISLAM. It is purely to test your knowledge of what we have learnt this year and how well you can argue objectively!!!!!!!!”

However, despite this clarification, locals have been outraged and have taken to the comments section of The Guernsey Press to express their horror at the idea. One concerned resident wrote: “Teach pupils about religion by all means but be very careful when you ask then [sic] to be a Muslim, in this day and age when easily led youngsters are being radicalised it is a dangerous road to be taking. 

“The idiot who thought this one up is not fit to be at the school or in education. The amount of youngsters heading to Syria without their parents knowing must ring warning bells about how easily led they can be.” 

Another wrote: “I’m sure you would have read of young adults that have secretly travelled to join the thuggish butchers that are known as I.S. all I am saying is be wary of what you are teaching them as some will not know the motive behind the lesson.”

One commenter suggested that if his child had been assigned the homework: “I would have assisted my child in writing the homework based on joining the IS, and finishing with something like, ‘Having been asked by my teacher to look into turning into a Muslim [I] found the idea most attractive and will be joining IS at the earliest opportunity’. “

They added, for clarity, “I am not Islamaphobic in any way I just find some teaching methods far too left wing for my liking.”

However, not everyone was opposed to the homework. 

One commenter responded to suggestions that learning about Islam could cause people to join Isis: “I suppose we should prevent anyone learning about Christianity, just in case they join the IRA?”

Another wrote: “Does this really matter? It’s a thought experiment… If you’re worried about your kid being influenced by it maybe you just need to do a better job as a parent!”

An Education spokesman defended the homework assignment, telling The Guernsey Press: “The Guernsey agreed syllabus for religious education includes a structured framework for ensuring that Christianity and the other five principle religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism) are studied with sufficient depth and breadth throughout the four Key Stages.

“It is important that our students are able to learn about, understand, investigate and question all that is around them. As with all subjects, homework will be set to cover all areas of the curriculum.”

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