I Got Chills (not the good kind) When Reading This News Item

The infection from the fundamentalist belt is spreading up here with an odd coalition.

I never thought the teaching of evolution would be challenged up here in Ontario. 

How the province responds is going to be an interesting test for my countrymen. I hope we are up to it.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/1254611--stock-le...

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Loren, may I put this message on Facebook with attribution? 

With my compliments, Joan.

Thanks 

The topic of homosexuality may not be appropriate for a first grader, but if that first grader was raised by two men or two women, then SOMETHING needs to be addressed, regardless, whether it's the concept of alternative nuclear families or some variant on that theme.

Loren;

Huh?  Is it a classroom teacher’s responsibility to address “SOMETHING”, whatever that “SOMETHING” might be?  What possibly needs to be said by a first grade teacher to the entire class  about Johnny’s two moms?  It would probably never occur to a first grader to even ask a question about such a situation.

And I don’t understand what the rest of your post has to do with age appropriate subject matter in any school’s curriculum.  

Asa:

First of all, kids talk, frequently about anything.  Secondly, they're liable to be reflections of their parents, particularly their biases and prejudices.  So when Chuck and Darryl BOTH come to pick up their son or daughter from school, my sense is that this event WILL be the topic of in-school conversation at minimum, if not slurs, catcalls and bullying.  Please don't tell me this doesn't happen in first grade; I've seen it first-hand.  That conversation should be moderated without bias or prejudice and probably at some point involve the parents, and I don't envy those who would be leading such a discussion because of its difficulty.

Thing is, we're dealing with facts of life here, somewhat divergent but still facts, such as:

  • Evolution is a documented and well-supported theory.
  • Same-sex couples have and raise children successfully.

and these two indisputable facts are running up against people who want to persist in their myths and superstitions to the point of insisting that school curricula and practices maneuver around these facts and be modified to cater to THEM, which, by the way, IS the point of the rest of my comment.

If they're that frightened of what their children will be discovering in a public school setting, I would be surprised that they didn't already reject it in favor of homeschooling.  Of course, they MIGHT consider giving up their prejudices and biases ... but let's not be radical here.... [sigh]

My experience has been the GLBT parents who are clear with themselves and not defensive will have done the necessary coaching of their own children so they have things well in hand. It is when one and/or the other parent feels guilt or shame, the children have difficulty when faced with such challenges. 

I’m sorry Loren, but teaching tolerance of the gay lifestyle to a first grader will be about as effective as trying to teach evolutionary concepts to someone who has had no introduction to, or capability of understanding, the Scientific method.

All I am advocating is the teaching of lessons that can be understood by children with a certain level of development which will allow that lesson to be learned.

It is absurd to introduce the idea of homosexuality to a 6 year old, and is more likely to create  confusion than understanding or tolerance.

Six year olds do understand bullying, however, and that is what would be a relevant lesson for both children of that age and their parents in this case.

And Joan (below);

I guess it gets down to fundamental meaning of education: do we teach customs and traditions whether true or false, or do we teach the best science available at the time?

Answer:  You teach lessons to the child that the child is developmentally capable of learning.

I never suggested teaching gay tolerance.  I said, and I quote,

"SOMETHING needs to be addressed, regardless, whether it's the concept of alternative nuclear families or some variant on that theme." 

As a part of addressing this "something," someone should bring up the idea that there are all sorts of FAMILIES out there, which might include the traditional nuclear, one-parent, and two-same-sex-parent, among many others.  Robin Williams did a brilliant job of this at the end of Mrs. Doubtfire, and though he didn't mention same-sex-parented families, I suspect ol' Euphegenia could have slid it in there without so much as raising an eyebrow.

One way or another, kids are going to ask, at minimum, and if answers aren't forthcoming, they're liable to come up with their own, which could lead to more confusion and problems, not less.  This wasn't an issue when I was a first grader, some 55 years ago, but it is a very clear potential problem NOW, and teachers should be prepared to face it.

I agree, Loren, based on personal and professional experience. And I feel very strongly that teachers must be prepared to correct mistakes made by parents and religion in matters of values. How else but through education can we begin to question traditional values that come from customs based on attitudes and beliefs, not evidence?

Asa, I agree. Thanks for the clarification. There are certainly things that could be said that would create problems, but I think most teachers have been given enough sensitivity training and coached in an appropriate handling of this situation. 

My cousin's daughter is lesbian and she and her partner have three children conceived of her partner and a close friend, I'm sure you aren't interested in the method they used, but those three children are developing into the nicest, very savy young people and I credit their two mom for doing such a good job. 
Many in our family had terrible times with the thought of that family form and I think most, if not all relatives have come around to not only loving this courageous little family, but respecting their lifestyle. We had some pretty hard-core Roman Catholics and fundamentalist Christians. 

Asa, this is such a tender subject and children, vulnerable in their innocence, may not have the skills necessary to deal with superstition and prejudices. As a teacher and as a member of a family with several GLBT members, I have had to have this discussion within the family group and between family units. 

For some, it is hard to understand that chromosomes and hormones cannot be changed. Each person exists as created. Why is it so difficult for some to realize our bodies are not all made the same way ... different skin colors (only a pigment difference and genetic), different eye colors (a genetic inheritance), different sexual orientations (different genes). The issue of sin or bad or evil or whatever has to be confronted in age appropriate ways.

It seems to me that the purpose of education is to learn about things in life and one of the things is homosexuality. If we, as teachers, remain silent the prejudice continues. If we teach biology, and even the youngest are curious and learn what their parents teach them, we should teach facts not myths and tradition. It is the job of the teacher to correct mistakes made by parents.  I guess that is why so many people are willing to pay for private education ... so they have a community that believes the same things, whether fact or fiction. 

I respect your concern; you bring up valid questions. I guess it gets down to fundamental meaning of education: do we teach customs and traditions whether true or false, or do we teach the best science available at the time?

if even HEARING differing points of view might destroy your 'faith', or worldview, then it is probably not that strong to begin with.

I'm POLITICALLY conservative on a few things, to a moderate degree, but religious conservative fundamentalism is a mental disease that fosters narrow mindedness and ignorance. And people like these existing in such large numbers are why I'm more anti-theist than 'live and let live'. I won't bring the topic up unless asked around religious friends, but will also not hesitate to state my opinion when asked BLUNTLY.

No, not every Christian is that narrow minded, but as long as we continue to support the idea that there is any valid reason to take the Bible more serious than any other god myths, many people will use it to be narrow minded and not THINK. The issue is religion itself. Not the so called "abuse" of it.

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