Monday, October 24, 2005


To continue with todays apparent Morality theme. Moon has an interesting post discussing the two issues of Creationism and Sex Education in schools. (I will attempt to sum up his points here, but you should really read his post to get the nuance.)

While parents seek to have creationism taught in the (science) classroom based upon their claimed right to have their convictions reinforced at school, manifesting their belief that it's not enough to instil principles of faith outside of school but that their children's godliness requires never being exposed to any competing account of life's origin without immediate strident opposition, so do other parents seek to have (full and candid; perhaps encouraging abstinence, but not turning a blind eye to its widespread eschewal by children) sexual education taught in schools for the same reason, to have what they deem important reinforced in the classroom.

I tend to disagree with Moon on this. Though I think his mind is in the right place. I think the fundemental problem with his argument lies in the fact that we are talking about two different types of education. One type of education presents a student with a series of facts, other types of information and allows the student to use these facts to accomplish goals. (math is like this, 1+1=2, 2+2=?) The other type of education is presenting something and stating that it is true and then the students like good little foot soldiers will believe this until told otherwise.

Sex education is not about indoctrinating students for sex, but about giving them tools to make informed decisions when the time comes.

Creationism on the other hand, if taught well would be a good excersize for students on understanding how the scientific method does not work. (For instance, starting with a conclusion and finding data to back it up, rejecting all other information.) Otherwise it will just be a confusing peice of information that those who go on to college will have to unlearn (There are already SO many of those) and that those who don't go on to college probably wont remember anyway.

But truly, if parents are so concerned about the education of their children then they should educate them. There is nothing preventing any parent from giving their children literature on creationism, or talking about it at the dinner table. Just as there is nothing preventing any parent from discussing sex and its dangers with their kids. In the end, the real problem is that parents want to outsource their jobs to teachers. And if you outsource it, it just never seems to get done right.

1 comment:

Averroes said...

Shinobi, I think your view of science may be a bit idealized. In fact, it IS taught as a series of facts to be learned as true until told otherwise. that is because it is impossible to do science without being admitted to the community of information tht current science is based on.

What is different is simply that in constantly testing these views against nature, a way is opened for what Kuhn calls "scientific revolutions," where upper level paradigms are overthrown.

But science also guarantees that it will never be the case that everything is explained in nature, AND that science alone cannot answer all the questions which men in fact ask, for instance, the metaphysical questions.

The problem with creationism, or it's new mask, intelligent design, is not that they should not be taught in school, but that they should not be taught in science class as science. (I have no problem with an individual science teacher delving into what is basically philosophy of science if she thinks that such a discussion might fit the needs and interests of the students, and wold not replace any of the science content.) What cannot be allowed to happen is to require ANYTHING to be taught in science class that is not what the community of scientists thinks is science.

As for sex ed, this involves morality, and that is the provence of parents. despite noble motives one way or the other, i would argue that the public school should provide a fuoll spectrum of information (including that absatinence from sources of the HIV virus is the only sure way to avoid it), and then allow parents to opt their children out of what they don't want them exposed to.