Today's class dealt with a very rich theme. Religion or religion related subjects being taught at public schools. The professor showed a video about the decision of the public schools in Kansas to teach criationism at schools, together with the theory of evolution.
The text discussion was on Maxine Greene's idea of freedom. The text discussed on this day was actually not her book, but a review of her book by Wendy Kohli. I actually tried reading Greene's book before starting this review, and I did find it much easier to do the opposite. After I started reading the review, many concepts that were difficult to understand, became clearer to me.
Well, I will start by the right order in which things came in class. The Kansas case video.
As a Protestant Christian there are so many things I could talk about here, or to respond to what was presented. I do have to say that many times I feel that my rights as a Christian are violated when a theory is considered truth at the expense of another theory that is part of my set of beliefs. Some scientists in that video did make evolution sound so certain that if that was wrong all of science would colapse. That does make it sound like the common belief that faith is the enemy of reason is true. And that does make it sound like no one has a right to question evolution. Sometimes it seems like evolution is more a religion than a scientific theory, by the way people defend it. So we have no right to question something in the field of science? How is that different from many religions that do not allow its members to questions their dogmas?
Another thing that was upsetting was the idea that every Bible believing Christian believes in creation as an oposition to evolution. Many Christians I know see no contradiction between evolution and the book of genesis, they actually believe that the 2 intertwine. So the idea that faith and science are in a battlefield is really offensive.
On the other hand there are non Christian scientists that do not believe in evolution, like those who defend the theory of intelligent design. I read a book my Mike Clark, and he claimed to not believe in God. But his whole book was devoted to contesting Darwin's evolution. That means all these theories are really are just theories.You can't defend them as if the reputation of the whole sicence field depended on it.
One question that was raised was that it was not fair to children to teach them that there were opposing views. That should be taught at universities. And then a question was raised in my mind – it is not fair to children to let them know that there are contradictions in the field of science? Why not? Are we trying to teach children that science is infalible? That sounds a lot like religion.
The next topic went on to discuss religious faith in universities. It mentioned how students feel their beliefs are suffocated when they go to college. There is a common belief today that faith is the enemy of reason. Unfortunately that happens today, because it used to be the opposite – religion has been viewed for centuries as the beginning of wisdom. That is how this country's universities were founded.
What happens today is that students that go to universities have their religion as an important part of their lives and are told that that important part of who they are has to be left outside the school's gates. Their gods are not welcome there even though that is a vital part of their beings.
Today we question why we have professionals with no morals or sense of right and wrong. Could it be that lack of religion might lead to lack of moral vision? Most religions are responsible for teaching moral to their followers. The reason why I think we don't need to make morals about religion is because most religions have very similar morals. So we don't need to favor on religion or another. I really don't know how to teach morals without a sense of respect for a higher being, like God. I really don't know how to teach morals based on an atheist humanism. But that doesn't mean I have to teach morals promoting the God of the Bible. I can teach about God through the teaching of morals, if I want to, and that is probably what I would do in a Christian school or at Sunday School, not in a public school.
The article read was about freedom - what is the meaning of freedom after the enlightment. Before it was being able to make choices. After it, it was a meaning of gettign things and be independent in captalism.
Considering that freedom is a way to make choices, some contemporary critical educatoors, like Paulo Friere, think that educators should be a mean to improving the current conditions of people, bringing them freedom, freeing them from oppression. The more oppressed people are,the less they have room to act, to make choices.
Greene, the author of the text being discussed, believes in being part of the community and try to better one's views trhough education. That to her is real freedom. Freedom is social rather than individualistic.
Her father was a very traditional jew. She isnsited that freedom cam e trhou chosing how to interpret your role in life. It was about making choices of how to live, but how to live in a community.
She complained that people don't care anymore, but that is because we have become individualistic, that is our notion of freedom. When all that matters is my own success and my own pleasure, the community is not important, morals are not important.
She mentions how not everyone has the freedom to take for granted. Many groups are oppressed in our society. And also people that have more means think they are entitled more freedom.
She mentions the reason why people search for freedom barriers. We all meet barriers, walls, ism's. We have to fight. So according to Greene, freedom is achieved not received. And it is not easy, because we are used to being oppressed.
Greene identifies a lot with Paulo Friere idea of education. He was exiled from brazil bc he was teaching people to fight for their rights. He had a movement called concientização. Reflectiveness on what makes a better community. We have to work together. Freedom is found thru resistance (ex. Rosa Parks), one has to be resistant to bring things around. (The exmple was give in class about the story of the RED LETTER – the kind of people we should be, choosing how to act in our role, the lady in the Red letter chose to act in a way that beneffited the community).
Taking about this concept of freedom one question was raised in class - Can students feel safe to speak their minds in a classroom? Hwo would you do that? One classmate said that the tone had to be set on the first day. But when you are younger you are much more succesptible to being teasing, and the teasing doesn't occur in front of the teacher. How can we avoid that? Students are afraid to express their views bc there are afrid they will be laughed at. A possibility was having a bulletin board online where studetns can contribute anonimously
A few things that were discussed in class:
It is terrifying when the state controls individuals.
Shouldn't the public school be free for the community to express their religions?
If I live in a democracy and don't believe in democracy I am not free. None of our teachers could say they don't believe in democracy. Or they would lose their jobs. Is that freedom? Freedom is a very lose idea.
Good pedagogy offers freedom for children. But at early grades freedom should be very limited. As we know children can hurt each other.