Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Schools and Critical Thinking

One of the more difficult boundaries to tread when being a counter cultural father is that of teaching kids to be intellectually critical of what they are taught at school, whilst upholding their respect for their school, their teachers, and education.

There are some areas where this comes into sharp focus. For example, most school’s approach to religious education is to teach religion as an interesting, if rather archaic, sociological phenomenon, and to present all religions as pretty much the same and being worthy of respect.

We however, teach our kids that our Faith is true, and that all others, in so far as the contradict ours, must ipso facto be in error.

This is more honest, but much less acceptable these days. But to teach about religions without highlighting that the essence of them is that they make truth-claims seems to me to be the opposite of education.

The True Faith in our schools, of course, is Darwinism. To see that, one has only to raise questions about Darwinian theory - or even to suggest that it is a theory and not a proven fact - is to incur the charge of heresy. It’s not worded quite like that, but that is the message.

I’m not, as it happens, a literal creationist (7 24-hour days and all that); but I cannot buy the notion that evolution can account for the great leaps from nothing to matter, from inanimate matter to animate; from animate matter (plants) to animals, or animals to man. Intelligence and order. Darwin has nothing to say about any of these, and his high priests and acolytes hate to be reminded of that fact.

So I arm the kids with penetrating questions, so they can act as socratic gadflies: they rather enjoy it, as do the better teachers...

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