[www.washtimes.com] Any thoughts on this story?
maule at LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU
Mon Jan 21 18:44:20 PST 2002
Without re-hashing the points of disagreeement, replying to David's points:
1. Teaching about religion may be generic, but isn't that the point of a "middle school Con Law" (Civics?) course designed to foster tolerance? Teaching theologies, even if sensible at a college level religion course level, is just too abstract and conceptually difficult for middle school children.
2. Teaching about culture isn't the equivalent of teaching about religion. Surely, if someone not part of a culture tries to teach about it, there is a much greater risk of making offense than if the person teaching is of the culture being taught. (Perhaps one reason so many Americans have warped views of other cultures in other countries is because they get their information second and third hand and not directly from people who belong to the other cultures). The same is true of religion. Members of any denomination would have qualms about their theology being explained by someone not of the denomination, unless the person was well versed in it (e.g., a religious studies major). Giving crash courses to "we can teach anything" elementary and middle school teachers is dangerous
3. The point about learning art might explain why high culture has so few adherents, relatively speaking. How many of our children learn art from expert artists? At least in the area of art, children go on field trips to museums where they might get something useful from a curator if a curator is available. Imagine the outcry of shuttling students off to services at church A, temple B, synagogue C, mosque D, and wiccan celebration E.
4. Whether the teaching of something is boring is not only a matter of its abstractness (and I disagree that abstractness necessarily equals boring), but also a matter of presentation.
Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law
Villanova PA 19085
maule at law.villanova.edu
President, TaxJEM Inc (computer assisted tax law instruction) (www.taxjem.com)
Publisher, JEMBook Publishing Co. (www.jembook.com)
Owner/Developer, TaxCruncherPro (www.taxcruncherpro.com)
Maule Family Archivist & Genealogist (www.maulefamily.com)
>>> davideguinn at YAHOO.COM 01/19/02 07:54PM >>>
---- Original Message -----
From: "James Maule"
> Agreed that it is not possible to teach about all religions in the manner
in which a select few religions are being highlighted and spotlighted by the
program in question (and probably by other programs). But it IS possible to
teach about religion, rather than teaching about selected religions.
Teaching about religion and teaching selected theologies are different
Again, I'm afraid I must disagree. Not teaching theologies but teaching
about religion is like leading a generic prayer. Once you whittle it down
to the lowest common denominator, there's really nothing left. While, as
I've argued, I think the generic, functionalist definition of religion is
useful in the law, I don't think it teaches us much about what is unique
about traditional understandings of religion because the functionalist
definition includes so-called secular ideologies.
In one sense, teaching about generic religion is like trying to teach about
black or hispanic culture. In the end, all you would do is insult members
of that culture. Instead, wouldn't it be better to learn at least something
about a number of specific sub-cultures under that general heading? In
any other discipline, you wouldn't learn only about an abstract generic
idea - you learn about explemplars that illustrate that idea. In art - in
literature - you learn by exploring sample works that illustrate something
and that can be used to teach you how to appreciate other works.
Moreover, trying to teaching about something in the abstract is boring. One
of the challenges in math and science education is that students feel that
these subjects are boring because they are abstract and irrelevent to their
lives. You need to concrete to make it real.
Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com
More information about the Religionlaw