Who should decide what a citizen is taught?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Balbus, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Some argue that there is a storm brewing on this issue as certain (mainly religiously motivated) groups realising they will get a sympathetic hearing from this White House, go on the offensive over what is taught in school.

    What I would ask is does the state have a duty to educate its citizens or should it allow this activity to be taken over by others?

    I mean at the moment we have a rising debate over the possible imposition of ‘intelligent design’ into US schools (Dover, Pennsylvania). ID of cause is the old creationist’s wheeze to get a foot in the door after the Supreme Court ruled that overt Creationism was religious. The thing is should we care? Is Darwinism not strong enough to see off this pretty lame excuse for a an idea or do we think it might lead to people growing up thinking that Swedes get killed in Tsunamis because they are tolerant of gays (Westboro Baptist church)?

    It should be remembered that at this time according to a CBS/New York Times poll on Americans views on this subject said that –

    55% believed God created humans in their present form (that we didn’t evolve from apes)

    27% believed in evolution guided by God

    13% believed God was not involved in human evolution.

    65% backed teaching creationism alongside evolution

    If people turn from rational thought to superstition should we try to stop this slide into ignorance or allow it?

  2. Megara

    Megara Banned

    who is "we?"

    Remember that many of the brightest minds the world has ever known were taught the bible. It did not hamper them in anyway. Does taking 15-30 minutes to learn/discuss the intelligent design really hurt a kid? An educated person is taught all sides of the story.

    This is a minor problem in the grander scheme of whats wrong with our schools. Lets remove crap like feminist garb from curriculums and get back to the classics. Well educated people think for themselves.
  3. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Super Moderator


    Actually Meg I agree with a lot of what you said, but I would ask what you think of the supposed 55% of Americans who think that humans didn’t evolve but were created by a god in their present form? Do you think that denotes a certain lack of rational thought amongst the population of the US? Do you think that most well educated people would come to that conclusion?

    I’m sorry but I think you’ll need to explain what ‘feminist garb’ is?

  4. Megara

    Megara Banned

    In my personal opinion, yes, i have to wonder about people who believe in creationism over evolution. There is too much evidence to disprove the theory of creationism. Now, i think evolution does just that, it disproves creationism and not the existence of God.

    Crap that was thrown in to please the feminists like The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The problem of course is uncontrolled multiculturalism. We have diluted our education system to please every group imagineable that we dont learn the basics.

    Heck, i was forced to read my crap like The Awakening than i was of shakespeare or Homer. Those guys are the pillars of western culture and we are replacing them with utter crap.

    We need to get back to a greek education: philosophy, art, science, mathematics, etc. Greek education has taught people to not be insular, but to question everything and explore knowledge.

    I dont devalue other cultures and i think they are important to study, but they should be studied once individuals have a firm basis in Western Culture and education. You should know yourself before you even try to know someone else.

    edit: i still have to ask, who is "we" that would decide what is rational and irrational to be taught? No one is without bias and the thought of some group deciding what the whole nation is to be taught sounds kinda like mass indoctrination.
  5. Gabino

    Gabino Member

    Easy Question -- Parents.

    Children do not belong to the government.
  6. element7

    element7 Random fool

    Well, if the children are attending a public school then in effect they are in the custody of a governmental system for a majority of their time. They are being educated according to certain standards set by governmental bodies.
    National Standardized education creates a problem in my book as far as the inability to be flexible as a teacher. No two classes or bodies of students are exactly alike. What happens if all classes nationwide are exactly the same (i.e. the teachers themselves don't even have a say in the lesson plans etc.. ) then it looks like programming rather than education.

    Good question on who decides what is taught to begin with. Logicly it should be an objective group of educators. In that light I don't think creationism could be taught side by side with evolution. Not in the same class anyway. I see nothing wrong with teaching the theory of creationism along with a host of other theories from various belief systems as a comparative study. Students should be afforded the opportunity to study alternative philosophical views. The problem is that the zealots want it placed in science class where it doesn't belong. Further, they shoot down the idea of teaching creationism along with other theories of belief, they want it to be taught only unto itself without comparison.
  7. PhotoGra1

    PhotoGra1 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    This is how it should be, but is not often the case...

    Our public education system was designed to create obient factory workers, not free thinking, creative individuals. I would argue that little has changed in the system since public school began. IMHO, teaching creation is ok if and only if some other belief systems are taught, & they can be compared, etc. The public school system has no place endorsing one religious view, and teaching parts of christian theory without comparison to other religions would appear, to me, to be an endorsement. Evolution itself is a fact. It has occured, is occuring, and will occur. If someone needs proof, they need not look very far. Hospitals, for example, are plagued by bacteria that have evolved to survive antibiotics that killed them only a decade ago.
  8. Megara

    Megara Banned

    correct me if i'm wrong, but intelligent design teaches that a superior being/beings created the earth. Its not that they are trying to teach the whole bit about it took God 7 days to create the world and the bit about adam and eve, but that a superior being had to create the world because its too complex. Intelligent design is not overtly Christian.
  9. green_thumb

    green_thumb kill your T.V.

    I don't think creationism should be "taught" the same way evolution is taught. One is fact and the other is delusion. It can be explained to students that some highly brainwashed people think this way... Hopefully someday it will be taught only in History class.
  10. Soulless||Chaos

    Soulless||Chaos SelfInducedExistence

    I'm all for a traditional western education, and why not have creationism with the rest of the mythology? :D
  11. Kandahar

    Kandahar Banned

    First of all, you are absolutely right about intelligent design, Balbus. It's absolutely pathetic, and is nothing more than creationism in a lab coat. But I can't say that I agree with you that evolution can just "shrug it off." While that's a prefectly valid mindset for people educated in the scientific method and critical thinking, it doesn't really work for the average high school student. Many of them will believe whatever their teachers tell them.

    I think that as long as we have public schools (I don't think we should, but that's a separate debate), we should keep creationism, intelligent design, and any other religious pseudoscience OUT of the science books. While learning about religion might have a place in an english or history class, it most definitely does NOT have a place in a biology class.

    As stupid as the public already is, I think it'd be downright DANGEROUS not to encourage rational thought.
  12. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Senior Member

    I'd rather read Kate Chopin than Shakespeare any day.

    The Awakening is one of the truly great American novels.

    Yes, creationism is ok, as long as it is presented as a myth or a story, not science. Teach it in history class along with the flat earth and the geocentric solar system.
  13. Soulless||Chaos

    Soulless||Chaos SelfInducedExistence

    That's for damn sure.
  14. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Easy Question -- Parents.

    Gabino brings up an interesting point since home teaching has become an increasingly talked about issue.

    But it brings up something that has also been brought up, if you have parents that are creationists (or racists or communists or fascists) can they teach a child without instilling those prejudices? I think not. Now going to a school is no insurance against bias but the fact that modern schooling involves many different teachers and can mean mixing with children from many different backgrounds with a variety of beliefs is some proof against the biased. I think however that risk is greater if you are being taught by one or two people on your own.

    I have similar fears about private schools another issue in education, many people have pointed to the growth in privately run schools in the south of the US around the time of desegregation. With white parents (that could afford it) pulling their children out of a desegregated public school system to place them in to private schools that for a time were exclusively or vastly white. An another phenomenon is the private religious schools, which by its nature has a religious bias.

    The other thing that this idea brings up is the inequality it could entail. Rich parents would have the resources to potentially give their child a much better education than a poor family could. From books equipment and private tutors to time the ability to take the time out to study and educate your own child.

    Gabino then goes on to declare -

    Children do not belong to the government.

    Well from one line it is difficult to understand what he means but it also in my mind brings up a number of issues.

    Is it a government or society that is teaching children in public schools? To me the most important thing for any society is the stewardship of its young’s education. But should education be about instilling certain values or putting those values under scrutiny to see if they are the best to have?

    Megara has brought up Homer and Shakespeare and called them "the pillars of western culture" but any discussion these great men of letters shouldn’t blind us to the time and culture they were a part of. For example the sexual norms of Greek culture that are abhorrent to Christians, or the religious persecutions of early modern Europe that were abhorrent to the American founding fathers.

    It is also important to see Homer and Shakespeare in context, as part of that times popular culture, and they were not adverse to changing history to flatter there respective audiences and those again should be recognised. Just as the often-false ‘history’ of modern day Hollywood should be balanced by education of the reality.

    Megara is claiming that the US should firmly be placed in western cultural tradition, but if like him this seems to take in everything from the European bronze age onward, it covers a lot of ‘culture’. What is to be emphasised and what is to be brushed over or lost is in essence what that tradition will be thought to mean. Is that tradition Greek, Roman, pagan, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, secular, Northern European or Mediterranean? It then has to be asked about the other strands of US culture, African, Slav, Jewish and oriental, where do they fit into the western cultural tradition?


    What is education there for, to mould a cultural identity, make people productive units, help people help themselves, indoctrination, assimilation, civilisation, what?

  15. Megara

    Megara Banned

    Of course not, but we have to learn about thes people to even BEGIN to talk about their culture. I dont know about you, but i learned that some greeks took part in homosexual acts(normally military guys) and i also learned that the greeks scorned those who had longterm relationships with guys and didnt marry and have kids.

    Our country is founded on western and judeo-christian philosophy and culture. To deny this is a blatant lie. The Chinese, the Africans, the Slavs etc did not put their culture/philosophy into building this culture at its inception and for a long while afterwards.

    Now tell me, what non western or judeo/christian philosophy/influences do you see in our founding documents? You arent claiming that this country was built by a super diverse influence of ideas right?

    Yes, our country has become probably the most diverse country since its inception, but our culture and our government are still overwhemingly influenced by our western and judeo/christian influences. Our culture is becoming more diverse, but the pillars of our country are still firmly western and judeo/christian: Democracy, freedom, trial by jury, capitalism, heck even some socialism thrown in, etc.

    Certain history is more important to being an american than another.

    Could you deny that learning Greek History and thought is more important and relevant to an American than say..ethiopian history or heck any african history?

    Kids need to be taught about WHO they are and HOW this country got here. Learning about some tribe on papua new guinea is not relevant to 99% of americans. Learning about Greece/Rome/Britain is relevant to 100% of Americans.

    i think its a little of all that.
  16. HuckFinn

    HuckFinn Senior Member

    The haughty vitriol of Balbus and Kandahar brings to mind this quote from Phillip Johnson:

    "When scientists defend a cherished doctrine by obscuring the issues and intimidating the critics, it is a sure sign that what they are defending isn't science."

    - http://www.origins.org/articles/johnson_blindwatchmaker.html
  17. Kandahar

    Kandahar Banned

    No one is "intimidating the critics." If you want to examine evolution using the scientific method and come up with a theory that better fits the evidence, be my guest. You'll probably win all kinds of awards for doing so.

    But don't spout nonsense like "EVILution must be entirely wrong because the collarbone of a humanoid from 300,000 years ago has never been found." All that line of arguments does is demean your position. The fact is that you reach your conclusions and THEN look for evidence, whereas legitimate scientists do it the other way around.
  18. Gabino

    Gabino Member

    Anyone who thinks the government is the best source of curriculii, is a danger to society.

    Parents are responsible for their children, and any "custody" that parents cede to teachers and school administration is only periferal and temporary.

    Parents can claim it back at any time.

    In other words -- Teachers Work for the Parents, and Parents ought to be in charge.
  19. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Super Moderator

    The haughty vitriol of Balbus and Kandahar brings to mind this quote from Phillip Johnson:
    "When scientists defend a cherished doctrine by obscuring the issues and intimidating the critics, it is a sure sign that what they are defending isn't science."

    It seems strange to be accused of intimidation by someone who seems to be defending the religious position. Many religions claim that if you do not believe what they wish you to believe then you will suffer ETERNAL damnation. A bible thumper has actually told me that accepting evolutionary theory over the ‘facts’ of the bible meant I would feel the ‘fires of hell’. A bit of mild scorn and an accusation of not thinking rationally seem very un-intimidating don’t you think when set against Satan’s red-hot pokers or Dante’s ice-cube?

    As to obscuring the issues, the very fact that many people that were involved with pushing creationist ideas are now pushing the ‘intelligent design’ idea seems to me an obscuring of their agenda.


    But this thread is not just about creationism in school as such, that was used as a well known example, this thread is about education, and who decides what and in what way citizens of a country should be taught.
  20. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Super Moderator



    I understand what your trying to express but I think you misunderstood the direction I was taking. I was trying to point out that there are many strands in the concept of ‘western culture’ and it seems obvious to me that some are contradictory even hostile to each other. The fact is that ‘western culture’ is not uniform. So the attitudes of different nations can be different for example the disparity between regular church attendance between the US and UK, or the survey that showed that only 34% of Americans thought that the government has a responsibility to ensure that no one is in need compared with 62% in Britain and France and 57% in Germany. It is claimed that there is a strong socialist tradition in these places that is very much diluted in the US. But is that strand of western thought only diluted because of an active campaign of the US authorities and establishment. Remember there was no equivalent to McCarthyism in Europe, and it often seems that many Americans believe that even the smallest socialist measure is the same as out right communism.

    As to the “judeo-christian philosophy and culture”, I’m not disputing its past importance but again it teaching has been uniform it is very much a matter of interpretation and sources and it’s divergent strands can be as much in dispute as in harmony. Once more you might try and balance the competing viewpoints, but I think that would be difficult to achieve. Is the Christian tradition of the US Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant? Why were those self styled protectors of American values, the Ku Klux Klan, as much against ‘papists’ as they were against racial integration?

    You then have to ask what the ‘judeo-christian philosophy’ is, since it has itself been influenced by the pagan stories and philosophies that it grow up alongside and competed with? Why was it that so often the Christian churches took over the sites of religious significance to the pervious religion?

    It then has to be said that other religious beliefs have withered and died and sometimes that outcomes has been actively been sort. Just were did many of the religious beliefs of the Americas or Africa go? You say that we should admire the works of Ancient Europe, should their religious beliefs be given the same validity as many give now to born again Christianity? If yes then it seems to me that the influence of Christianity is not as strong as you claim and if no then what is to stop Christianity not going the same way and Olympian Zeus or Jupiter Optimus Maximus and then being treated any differently than any other ‘unbelievable’ religion?

    My point is should a citizen be taught objectively in a rational atmosphere or should they be taught the prejudices of the generation they grow up in? And who should decide?


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