Religious Beliefs Trump Thinking In Our Schools

Religious Beliefs Trump Thinking In Our Schools
Opinion - Fort Bend Now - Jan 10, 2008 - Original
It is often intriguing to read of some small, misguided, little town where a few people try to push “creationism” into the classroom. And yet, in spite our desire to feel more progressive than those small towns, creationism / intelligent design seems to be something that resides just under the surface in many of our communities. Although the ACLU is doing admirable work of minimally keeping it under the surface, I can attest, that it is more “under the rug” than “under the surface.”

I taught sixth grade in Texas for three years 2001-2004. During that time, I was absolutely warned to not begin to say the word “evolution” or we would have every preacher in the district, as well as the media, breathing down our necks, and then there would truly be no teaching or learning. Sadly, I needed the position, so I played the “hide the issue and hide the learning” game.

Every time I tell this story, usually at a dinner party, people look at me like I am reliving some ancient past. I remind them that this policy ruled only two years ago – and in their progressive community. Like many issues that are easier to disbelieve than to address, people inevitably choose disbelief.

It is more difficult for me to choose disbelief, but over time, even I can begin to question my experience. So several weeks ago, I decided to test the continued use of this policy. I interviewed with a high school in Fort Bend and asked if I could use current events in the English classroom to explore why real evolution education is often an inoculation against racism and eugenic posturing. The interviewer quickly replied, “We do not challenge the sensitive “beliefs” of our student community.”

Too bad, … our most ill-informed students fall easy prey to eugenic manipulation, intolerance, and gangs because they do not understand real evolution. As can easily be seen in our prisons, it is the most ignorant of our population who are the most susceptible to a twisted understanding of evolution and racism. In more affluent areas, evolution ignorance is commonly twisted into lame justification for oppression.

God forbid that we should teach knowledge over “beliefs.” No wonder our politicians keep repeating the mantra “I believe …this and I believe …that” The “belief” word demands free reign to twist reality without being questioned. It is a true tragedy when believing trumps thinking, especially in our schools.

Nancy Hentschel
Sugar Land