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Civics, not Religion, is what is needed in our schools.

6 November, 2009

I took the Red Pill quoted Abraham Lincoln in a post a few days ago ( Obama, Corzine, and the Radical Left Agenda).

“The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”

– President Abraham Lincoln

And then added that what is wrong with our current current educational and political “situation” is that

We removed the Bible and allowed in people like Bill Ayers who infested the education system with Marxism.

I disagree completely with this statement, although I have enjoyed Red Pill’s blog and his comments at Leo Donofrio’s blog here. I have had some experience as a teacher (at State Universities, Junior Colleges, and elementary schools) and I totally agree that there is something wrong with our national education system. One problem is the one-size-fits-all philosophy that has allowed our government to dictate what should be taught and how it must be taught. During my short tenure as an elementary teacher, I taught second language students, many of whom spoke no English when they came into the classroom. By tailoring my methods and materials to suit the needs and interests of individual students and classrooms, I was able to successfully guide my students in English acquisition. One of my first/second grade classes excitedly learned the difference between transparent and translucent, learned about liquids and solids, the water cycle and so much more.

Like so many of my fellow teachers, I left the classroom when I was no longer allowed to determine how to teach my students. The idea that every student at each grade level should be on the same page at the same time of the day is ludicrous; combined with the necessity of national testing standards which really meant teaching to the test so the school would not be penalized, has proved quite unsuccessful, especially with second language students. Other teachers may disagree; many of them do not want the responsibility of assessing their students’ needs and designing instructional material. My daughter, currently in her second year of teaching special education students, voices the same complaint to me. Her students come to her with differences that can not be “ironed flat” by one-size-fits-all programs, but she is mandated to use the materials anyway. I suspect that she will not remain in the profession for long.

What is also missing in the classroom is civics, teaching from the earliest grade levels what it means to be a good “citizen.” I always began the school year by demonstrating to the class that they must act together, despite their many differences, in order to achieve their goal – learning how the world works. Such lessons teach respect, responsibility, and cooperation; things which our current social structure certainly seem to be lacking.

In all of this I have no disagreement with Red Pill. But Religion in the classroom is another matter. Western civilization may identify itself as Christian, but there are no end of varieties of Christian – from cult-like followers of strict interpretation to moderate constructionists and congregations of liberal thought and practice. Christianity means so many different things to so many Christians. They are entitled to those differences; but I do not think they are entitled to impose their beliefs on one another.

Let me be very clear here. Morality, virtue, justice, truth, ethics, virtue and many other attributes can be taught using a classical system of education without religion. This country is no longer a few colonies bound together by a common Protestant religion (if it ever really was); Catholics, Quakers, Adventists, Presbyterians, Buddhists, and dare I say it – even Atheists – have immigrated to these United States and contributed their beings to its welfare.

We must accept that from “sea to shining sea” what unites us is our belief in freedom, shared responsibility and respect for each one another’s inalienable rights.

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