“Educating” Kids: Moments of Silence, Creationism, and Horrible School Lunches
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By becky - Last updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - Save & Share - 11 Comments

I’ve often joked that I’m going to start going to school board meetings now that John and I pay property taxes. This Salon article pushed me one step closer to being the crazy PTA lady with no kids.

As is evidenced by the Salon article, issues like the creationism v. evolutionism debate seem to bring out the crazies, and I find it most alarming that what these 2 groups can agree on is what we’re teaching our kids.

Aside from the new daily “moment of silence” (where kids ages 5-18 sit for a minute of quiet reflection), this stuff about teaching creationism seems to be leading us down a very slippery slope.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have no problem with a “moment of silence” in theory. But, I’ve been in TX classrooms where teachers and students prayed aloud during “moments of silence,” and I have swear to God, been asked after such an event why I didn’t believe in Jesus when I refused to join in.

I understand that text books are inherently flawed. They take years to write and research and by the time they come out they’ve gone through approval committees and boards and so much craziness that they only convey the watered down version of what we know. Even so, we should try to stick to the facts as much as possible.

Bottom line: if you want your kids to know about God and creationism and how to start a commune of like minded folks in Montana, then by all means tell them. Just do it away from school. Church seems like a good spot, or the dinner table, or after you’ve just seen the Kirk Cameron movie about the end of the world.

I just threw in that bit about school lunches cause they really suck. 3 carbs and some fatty mystery meat does not a “healthy and nutritous” lunch make. But I guess I’ll bring that up at the next PTA meeting.

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11 Responses to ““Educating” Kids: Moments of Silence, Creationism, and Horrible School Lunches”

Comment from Rick
Time August 20, 2003 at 4:19 pm

Absolutely the ‘moment of silence’ is thinly veiled school prayer. I don’t agree with it. I’m personally fine with the pledge, but I’m overzealously patriotic (but no in a Montana kind of way). I’m also fine if the FCA guys want to get in a circle before the game and pray that everyone makes it through the game without breaking a leg… if they can do it without pulling the kind of crud that Becky had to hear. I think a lot of the problem you experienced stems from the Southern Baptist tenet of prosthelitizing (I can’t even get close enough to spell check that!).

One has to help their brothers and sisters get into heaven! I’m much more an admirer of leading by example. I’ve known people who were clearly religious and clearly leading (outwardly at least) pious lives and I admired them for it. Made me want to hit the ol’ parish house on Sunday. But if you get all up in my kitchen about Jesus – that is a definite turn OFF. That, my friend, is between me and Him. You can butt-out.

Comment from Rick
Time August 20, 2003 at 4:20 pm

And don’t get me started on textbooks! DRIVEL!

Comment from etrigan
Time August 20, 2003 at 4:55 pm

I have no problem with a moment of silence. I think this is an oversight problem. Teachers/Principals/School Boards who behave in an overtly religous manner during school hours or who let this kind of behavior occur should be trussed up in court and have their pay cut or be fined (and should pay it from personal funds, natch.)

I, also, have no problem with a text book containing a theory for creationism that’s just as strong or weak as the evolution theory — as long as it doesn’t mention a specific God. Maybe, this particular lesson should even be taught in a logic/theory section of science that introduces Nietzsche and the like.

Teaching evolution-of-the-world-as-fact is a stretch for me. I don’t believe it and I don’t want to have to explain to my kids the difference between theory and fact, though it would be an excellent opportunity to teach them that even teachers can be wrong. I still haven’t been convinced that the massive swings of evolution that would be required to create the world we live in today can happen. So, I guess I only believe in evolution on a small scale.

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 20, 2003 at 5:21 pm

Except these are SCIENCE textbooks we’re talking about. Creationism is not science, it’s faith.

If you don’t like your kid learning the best scientific theory we have about the origins of life, then you have a problem with the scientific method and you should probably have the right to get your kid out of science classes. They can have perfectly fulfilling careers in the liberal arts.

Comment from jank
Time August 20, 2003 at 5:32 pm

a logic/theory section of science that introduces Nietzsche and the like.

Dear God, having something like this in the public schools would be invaluable. Dr. John Leinhard of the UofH does a great job over at the Engines of Our Ingenuity site (The episode I linked to is one of my favorites).

But just doing more to promote a general understanding of both the mental discipline of math/science (and their bastard child close to my heart, engineering) would go a long way towards making the world a better place. The ability to think critically, and to separate emotional response from observable, repeatable fact is undervalued.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 20, 2003 at 6:14 pm

oh…Kelly…did I step on the toes of your beliefs?

If you don’t like your kid learning the best scientific theory…

And therin lies the rub (and maybe you missed my point.) In my opinion Evolution (note the capital E) is theory, and only evolution (this time, lower-case e) is fact. Before you can teach a young mind about Evolution and say “the world was created in this manner” you have to make them understand theory and explain Evolution as such. (Do I have to say that I see no problem in teaching evolution as fact?)

The theory of Creation (again, capital) is not something I would teach — that the Christian God made this planet and all living beings. The theory of creation (ahem) as it applies to many schools of thought (including religious and non-religious beliefs) is something worth teaching as a theory. An agnostic approach to this seems reasonable to me: “it is entirely possible that some being beyond our scietific understanding created all this stuff and we’re just his/her lab experiment.”

AND this would be a great way to present the Scientific Theory and discuss the arguments for and against Evolution and Creation, OR the whole concept that reality is a hallucination and scientific theory itself cannot be proven while we are hallucinating.

(maybe it’s a good time to introduce students to my uncle ‘cid and my aunt mary jane? no, no. that’s what college is for.)

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 20, 2003 at 6:45 pm

Yeah, I gotta adjust my troll-dar.

“Teaching evolution-of-the-world-as-fact is a stretch for me.”

“(Do I have to say that I see no problem in teaching evolution as fact?)”

The rules of this word game escape me.

I think you’re proposing a reason/philosophy curriculum in which asking big questions like “where did we come from” would be completely appropriate. And appropriately, students would be presented with Darwin, Genesis, Greek mythology, Gilgamesh, Native American traditions, etc.

Actually, we did something very similar to that in Mrs. Hughes’ class in the 10th grade, if I remember correctly. But that was a humanities class, not a science class.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 20, 2003 at 6:57 pm

Why isn’t reason/philosophy part of science? (or I mean: isn’t it?)

I have trouble believing we will ever prove Evolution created man without some leaps of faith invovled (hallucinating aside). It’s still just a theory for me and I think it should be taught that way. The idea that plants and animals evolve, though, is obvious and certainly supports the theory of Evolution. That’s what science is to me: part provable things (facts) and part unprovable things (faith/theories).

Comment from cynsmith
Time August 20, 2003 at 7:18 pm

I think that Evolution taught in a science class should be about various evidence – facts – and the theory that best combines them with a coherent explaination. Evolution is a theory supported by a preponderance of evidence in the fossil record. Of course reason is involved – deductions, etc are necessary in good research. Faith doesn’t exactly have a place in the science classroom, though, IMO.

The reason that what etrigan is proposing would better fit in a humanities class is that “science” requires evidence gathered through research and experimentation. An exploration of various religious and philosophical theories explaining the origin of man would certainly be complimentary to a discussion of the theory of evolution as exemplified by the fossil record, but should not replace it or even be taught in the same course.

Also, we should remember that we’re talking about school-age children here. Perhaps a combined curriculum like you seem to be envisioning would be appropriate for college kids, but I don’t think the majority of middle schoolers would be able to sustain that level of philosophical inquiry. I doubt that I would have the stamina for it now.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 20, 2003 at 8:05 pm

remember that we’re talking about school-age children here

That is why I feel it should be presented in a manner of “this is a theory”. Of the many lies and half-truths and maybe-trues we tell our children, let’s start with this one. Let’s make a clear distinction “this is a theory” and let them decide (or not teach it until they’re old enough to decide). I understood the distinction clearly by the 5th grade. Any person not up to the “challenge” of the concept of theories by junior high or high school is probably doomed in a standard educational sense, anyway. Otherwise, they will have to choose between their belief in God or Science when they start discarding the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 22, 2003 at 7:24 am

Letters at Salon are in for the creation vs evolution in textbooks article. Nice to see they cover the same ground we did. Here’s my favorite quote:

It would be better to say that this is an opportunity to teach the scientific method, and allow students to come to their own conclusions, with their own evidence and research. Learn about why creationists believe what they believe, and learn what evolutionists believe what they believe. Debate the issues, rather than having them being lectured (and probably not believed). Learn about what creationists believe, and then argue against them (and vice versa).

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