nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 22 07:49:17 PDT 2005
You know, I think the bottom line is our society is too pluralistic for a one-size-fits-all curriculum at the government school monopoly.
I empathize with Sandy when he expresses concern about students being taught ID (and teachers being required to teach ID) in the public schools. Many others feel the same way about sex ed, gay pride week, and evolutio-as-fact in the government schools.
I still think Mike McConnell said it best when he said: "A secular school does not necessarily produce atheists, but it produces young adults who inevitably think of religion as extraneous to the real world of intellectual inquiry, if they think of religion at all." The public schools are designed to inculcate and assimilate and mold impressionable children--many believers simply don't like the mold designed (or did it evolve) by those who control the public school curriculum.
So many of the issues that cause deep friction among us concern who gets to control what our children are taught in the public schools. I wish we could agree to disagree, and go our separate ways to schools of our own choosing.
>From my perspective, one of the advantages of teaching ID in the public schools is that it would allow liberal secularists to appreciate the value of opt-outs (parental excusals from objectionable curriculum), of academic freedom for teachers (as Sandy put it, of teachers required to teach things they disdain), and school choice (being allowed to exit without penalty).
Cheers, Rick Duncan
Steven Jamar <sjamar at law.howard.edu> wrote:
Every so often the unreality of this list amazes me. Or to be perhaps more precise, or at least more personal, the claim that Christians are unwelcome and excluded from schools is utterly and totally ludicrous -- at least in my experience. Are there limits on the extent of imposing and endorsing Christian views? Yes. Does this constitute exclusion? Hardly.
Those who are not Christian are made to know it constantly by events going on in schools -- mostly from other students, but far from always. Those who are athiests or agnostics are often even more left out or made aware of their deviation from the norm -- Christian in almost all schools.
Renamed and repackaged "holiday assemblies" or "holiday concerts" are, if you will pardon the pun, a ringing endorsement of religion with a huge emphasis on Christianity - to give just one example.
Notes like Rick's expose that it is not just inclusion that is desired, but control -- and control at a depth that us evil liberal secularists could not and would not dream of exercising -- or want to.
Now I can expect the well-rehearsed parade of examples of erroneous actions by local teachers and principals in response. I admit there are errors -- often egregious ones. But more often -- indeed always in my personal experiences with schools -- it goes the other way. Teachers defining religion in social studies class in a way that excludes all but Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; religious music; exclusion of any discussion of evolution, and near exclusion of discussion of DNA and RNA and mutation from biology class because of the rewriting of textbooks and teachers being confrontation-avoidant -- for good reason - they have hard enough jobs without abuse from parents and self-described fundamentalist or literalist Christians.
ID is being pushed as a Trojan horse -- just like the minute of silence was proxy for prayer. That is so obvious that one would think it would not need to be stated.
But, if one wants to go beyond the subterfuge and judge these things on their merits, then I think a meditative moment to focus one's mind away from whatever and onto the business at hand can not only be constitutional, but a good thing.
And I think including a chapter in every science book about the limits of science and about the way in which science gets embroiled in political and social and religious disputes is a good thing -- of which ID is but one example.
But the drives to have ID taught as science, as a legit scientific alternative to evolution, and the like are not based on trying to get students better educated about the reach and limits of science or scientific methods (about both of which some posts on this list regularly display woeful ignorance and present them in caricature), but rather in forcing a religion-driven perspective of the world on the classroom -- to indoctrinate, not expand horizons.
In the end, I don't think it matters much as an educational matter -- to the extent teachers have supposedly been trying to eliminate belief in god or religion, they have failed dismally (so maybe the idea that they were trying to do that might be wrong?). Also, to get students to retain much of anything in science or history or whatever from HS or earlier is pretty much hopeless for most of the students. So I don't think that even if the ID folk succeed, they will in fact succeed.
Finally, nearly every Christian I know and nearly every religious person I know believes in some sort of creator or creative force that is beyond biology, beyond physics, beyond what we generally consider science. They believe both in evolution and in the hand of god either at the beginning or from time to time nudging here or there. Those beliefs are matters not of science or data or proof, but of faith. They do get dressed up in inference streams -- "I look at the world and it fills me with awe and wonder -- so their must be a god."
The fact that many people think thus hardly makes it science. The inference may even be a rational one at some level, especially if one starts with the assumption that there is a god, but that does not make it science. And the belief in god is, as I understand it, not a rational one for the most part, but a matter of faith -- buttressed by experience perhaps, and reason, but not premised on it. Though for some it is.
The approach of some who equate lack-of-doing-everything-I-want with hostility is inherently disrespectful of those of us who disagree. Pat Robertson asking god to kill S Ct justices to get Robertson's favorites on the court is only one of the most visible and disgusting examples of this.
Fortunately, almost no on on this list ever goes that far.
Prof. Steven D. Jamar vox: 202-806-8017
Howard University School of Law fax: 202-806-8567
2900 Van Ness Street NW mailto:sjamar at law.howard.edu
Washington, DC 20008 http://www.law.howard.edu/faculty/pages/jamar/
"Love the pitcher less and the water more."
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