Sunday Thoughts: Wilful Ignorance

Biblical history
“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ” 

― Arthur C. Clarke

I was writing about my neighbour child-friend a couple weeks ago. His hungry for knowledge brain is being fed creationism. I stumbled upon this article today A Journalist Visited The Creation Museum. He Learned These 20 ‘Facts’. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so bloody sad for the children.

Sunday Thoughts: My Neighbor’s Kid Doesn’t Believe in Evolution

homeschool

“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ” 
― Arthur C. Clarke

There is a ten-year old boy who lives across the street from me. He’s bright, imaginative, a voracious reader and a constant thinker. He likes to pop over and chat if I’m in the garden and will often come walk my puppy with me. He’s a real chatterbox – adores Dr Who and can tell you trivia about the show that would put any adult fan to shame.

His parents are good people. They’re committed to helping in their community in concrete tangible ways. They believe it’s important to help those who are less fortunate and they actually do walk their talk. They are Christians.

This boy’s parent’s home school both their boys, ages 10 and 15 – and from what I have seen, are committed to the task of educating their kids and take the time to go the extra mile with regular field trips to libraries, museums and so forth. As parents they worry about the changing world, and what it will mean for their kids higher education and career options – I know this because they’ve spoken to me about it a number of times.

A couple of days ago I was out in the garden and my little friend popped over for a chat. We were talking about plants, how they grow, why one plant will do okay in a certain environment, but not do so well if it’s the wrong environment. Suddenly he says to me:

“Fiona, my dad and I have decided we don’t believe in all that evolution stuff. Nothing happens just instant like evolution says.”

Oh dear, I thought.

I said well, that’s an interesting thought. Evolution is based in science you know and there’s nothing instant at all about it. Evolution is something that has occurred across thousands and thousands of years, much older and longer than the Bible.

He tells me that actually the only way to think about how everything came to be is to believe an all-powerful being made it happen.

I told him that there are many people who do not accept that there is an all-powerful being, that there is just no evidence for it, and that as he gets older and can study more science he’ll get the opportunity to see all sorts of information and evidence about evolution that will let him develop his thinking and his mind. I told him that the important thing was to keep an open mind, no matter what anyone tells him, and be prepared to learn more – to keep on reading and keep on thinking.

Then I dropped the subject. I don’t want to alienate or disrespect my neighbours or be *that* person that he is taught to pray for, so hopefully I don’t go to hell for my heretical beliefs. I don’t want it to happen that he is not allowed to come for chats.

The conversation is still rattling around in my mind. This creationist, anti-evolution teaching is happening in a homeschooling environment, but it could also happen in a school, a Sunday school group, or via family and friends. Putting him in mainstream school would not guarantee that these ideas would not be fed to his active, thinking brain – but I cannot help to think mainstream schooling would increase the potential for him to be exposed to different information, other ways of thinking, to science and to reason.

In the back of my mind, I see this intelligent boy, maturing into a man who at 20 or 30 or whatever age, will sit with a science text-book (and not the King James version) in his hand, feeling incredibly ripped off and duped. I hope it doesn’t take that long and I hope it happens. He’s a great kid, with a great brain.

Sunday Song: Pearl Jam – I Am Mine

 

Ahhh a favourite song and my next tattoo – I am mine.

Lyric Love

The selfish, they’re all standing in line
Faithing and hoping to buy themselves time
Me, I figure as each breath goes by
I only own my mind

The North is to South what the clock is to time
There’s east and there’s west and there’s everywhere life
I know I was born and I know that I’ll die
The in between is mine
I am mine

And the feeling, it gets left behind
All the innocence lost at one time
Significant, behind the eyes
There’s no need to hide
We’re safe tonight

The ocean is full ’cause everyone’s crying
The full moon is looking for friends at hightide
The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrow’s denied
I only know my mind
I am mine

And the meaning, it gets left behind
All the innocents lost at one time
Significant, behind the eyes
There’s no need to hide
We’re safe tonight

And the feelings that get left behind
All the innocents broken with lies
Significance, between the lines
(We may need to hide)

And the meanings that get left behind
All the innocents lost at one time
We’re all different behind the eyes
There’s no need to hide

And In Other Australian News, The Word “Secular” Causes Intellectual Melt-Down

You know how sometimes you read an article and get to the end and feel like …

no umm

Here is the offending article, ‘Secular’: an aspiration or a dirty word in Australian education?  First of all the article itself is confusing as fuck, which is a bit ironic since it’s writer, Audrey Statham, appears to be attempting to clarify the definition / use of the word “secular” and discuss it’s relationship to the issue of religious education in schools.

Let’s see if I can clear this up.

Secular

Secular means not connected with religious or spititual matters.

Statham takes exception with Donnelly’s apparent view that “secular”  means  opposed to – and even hostile towards – religion. She goes on to say that there is “a clear need for an Australian curriculum that is secular in providing opportunities for non-religious and religious students in state and religious schools to develop an understanding and appreciation of those with very different worldviews from their own.”

Which could be true, but isn’t really terribly relevant for the purpose of the discussion the teaching of religion in Australian schools.

Donnelly isn’t arguing for the inclusion of religious education (ie. a religious studies class which explores the history of religion, and looks at the diversity of religions) to promote inclusivity or diversity. What Donnelly is advocating for is for Christianity to be taught and included in our education system, and indeed in our political system.

Secular means not connected with religious or spititual matters.

I would argue as a parent, that it’s not terribly important for my kids to be studying religious diversity and inclusion in school, except as part of a larger and broader discussion of ALL forms of diversity. That is to say, if you want to add a class about anti-oppressive thinking I’m ALL for that. If as a part of that class you want to teach children that it’s not okay to marginalize, demean, diminish, attack or discriminate against other people because they have a different religion than you do – that would be cool. Let me add however, this does not mean that it is not okay to employ the use of rational thought, to question, or to otherwise explore those differences. And that is what education should really be about. Otherwise we start to look an awfully lot like …

crazies

If Donnelly and his sort were really concerned about adding religion to the education system to promote diversity and inclusion, we’d actually be starting the school day and our parliamentary proceedings with a prayer or a reading from a different church/religion/spiritual belief every day. We wouldn’t be seeing the push to make clear “the significance of Judeo-Christian values to our [Australian] institutions and way of life” as suggested by Education minister Christopher Pyne. You can read more about all that HERE

Secular means not connected with religious or spiritual matters.  Secular highlights  that the POINT of school and the POINT of our parliament is NOT to debate, include, and certainly NOT to promote Judeo-Christian values. It means our children’s education and our political government should not be connected, not in any way, shape or form with religion.

Teach religion at home (if you must), teach it at church (if you go). Start little nifty relgious education programs that can be attended after school, or on the weekends if you are so inspired to drag your poor children to them, but do NOT teach this crap in our schools and get it the hell OUT of our politics.

Secular. No religious or spiritual matters allowed.

Sunday Thoughts: Why Can’t Australia Be More Like The Smart Kids?

Education and education

This is good news, BUT the land of education (at least here in Australia) seems to be on a rapid backward slide.  You’ll recall from my post last week, Sunday Thought: Belated But …How About You Keep Religion And Politics OUT of Our Children’s Schools that we’ve had a review of the Australian curriculum commissioned and there’s a few problems with the people who were chosen to undertake the review.  Kevin Donnelly notes that “A market-driven model of education – one represented by autonomy, diversity and choice – provides the best opportunity of raising student standards.” and from the other side of his face says “religion does not have enough of a presence in Australia’s “very secular curriculum”, and that it needs to be taught “more effectively”.  Donnelley also says, “When you look at Parliaments around Australia – they all begin with the Lord’s prayer. If you look at our constitution, the preamble is about God.”

I’m happy to report that in response to that statement, Greens senator Richard di Natale has said that The Lord’s Prayer in Federal Parliament is an anachronism and has announced that when Parliament returns in February, he will move to end the reading of prayers at the start of each sitting day. You can read more about that HERE

Although I far prefer Di Natale’s view, and would heartily support it – I remain concerned that what this is all really about is the politicization and religious-ification of our education system. None of this will improve the Australian quality of education or make any of us any smarter but is a great move to continue Australia’s long relationship with tall poppy syndrome and mediocrity..