Monday, March 8, 2010

Texas book storm

In continuation of my Saturday posting regarding curriculum, I found the recent discussion of the Texas text book controversy to be interesting. Of late, Texas has been the battle ground for intense debates on curriculum revision.

Last year the fight was over science material. The issue was whether creationism and or intelligent design should be incorporated into the evolution discussion. Eventually these theories were not mandated, but teachers were required to at least discuss the strength and weaknesses of the evolution theory.

The more recent debate has focused on the social studies curriculum. Apparently, some groups want to repaint the American historical landscape. Points proposed to be expunged from the texts include the religious heritage and "exceptionalism" of American. Why this sanitization? Because some feel that it is potentially offensive to people and has no place in a secular public school system.

Frankly, whether you believe in God or not, I don't see how you could decide to ignore a facet of history or assert one theory as fact while lowering the burden of proof. In fact, doesn't such a white-washing of the curriculum seem radically closed minded and less enlightened? Shouldn't we divulge all perspectives in an unbiased way and encourage independent analytical thinking? Otherwise, you're not educating, you're indoctrinating.

To me, choosing to erase the religious dimension of American history is akin to the Iranian President Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and 9/11. It's unfathomable to me to think any intelligent and educated person would do something so extreme. Whether you like it or not, religion and history have been inextricably linked for centuries. Regardless of your religious affiliation, to accurately study a past era you often must understand the religious context of the historical event.

I don't know about you, but to deny the existence of religion is to deny our past, present and future. Would you really want to half teach your children about history? I worry about this reactionary rejection of religion in all its forms. Such unchecked revision will lead to a lost generation in our nation's history, one no longer anchored in the continuum of the human experience that is both less cultured and less educated. Is that really future you want for your child?

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