The Sunday Telegraph article exposing the exclusion of words associated with Christianity and British history can be found here.
Oxford University Press has removed words like “aisle”, “bishop”, “chapel”, “empire” and “monarch” from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like “blog”, “broadband” and “celebrity”. Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.
Lisa Saunders, a worried mother who has painstakingly compared entries from the junior dictionaries, aimed at children aged seven or over, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, said she was “horrified” by the vast number of words that have been removed, most since 2003.
“The Christian faith still has a strong following,” she said. “To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it.”
It will come as no surprise that the Dictionary is widely used in some schools throughout Northern Ireland.
The link between the Oxford University Press and the changes to the curriculum was addressed in a personal communication between the OUP and PACE recently.
In their defence; the Oxford University Press official responded with a reply that will astound most parents in Northern Ireland. No doubt it will evoke a response from Church leaders who have given support to the revised curriculum; it may even astound DUP Environment Minister and former Education spokesman, Sammy Wilson:
Vineeta Gupta, the head of children’s dictionaries at Oxford University Press, said:
“We are limited by how big the dictionary can be – little hands must be able to handle it – but we produce 17 children’s dictionaries with different selections and numbers of words.
“When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don’t go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as “Pentecost” or “Whitsun” would have been in 20 years ago but not now.”