Monday, September 16, 2013

Let's base 21st Century Education on a Roman Era Text.That'll work.

               Some days I feel so old before my time.

When I went to school science was celebrated. We had put humans on the Moon. Vaccines were on the way to making deadly diseases a thing of the past.Our understanding of the Universe and our place in it was expanding. New ideas were becoming reality. Computer science was evolving. We were learning our origins. Amazing discoveries and inventions were everywhere.

Science was respected. Research was funded. Actual science was taught in schools. We led the world in education. We led the world in scientific innovation.

History was history. It was taught. The teachers used the current research. They felt no pressure to make things up to serve a political and religious agenda.

Teachers were respected and not branded as union thugs bent on indoctrination.

That was then. This is now.

Ohio. Again.

Since 2010 the reactionary Republicans who seized power in Ohio have been busy.Union busting, voter suppression, charter schools and abortion. With the cascading crazy it is easy to miss something. I was appalled earlier when I discovered Ohio passed a law requiring the teaching of the "Original Founding Documents". Here we go.

The law requires the teaching of the original texts of The Declaration Of Independence, The Northwest Ordinance, The US and State Constitutions.

This legislation will highlight those documents of freedom and enumerated rights so that the next generation can carry the torch of liberty that these documents represent." This was from Chris Long, the head of the Ohio Christian Coalition.

Part of the law requires supplemental readings to place the documents in their historical context. If this material is actually written by accredited, mainstream historians, they may not like the results.

The context is the Enlightenment and the rise of rationalism. The rise of secular humanism. The rejection of religion as basis for law and as a test to hold office. The prohibition of the establishment of a State Religion.
I am going to try to find some of these readings. There is no way to factually ignore these influences on the well educated men who founded this nation.

The Ohio Christian Coalition I feel sees this as a chance to push the myth America was founded as a "Christian" nation, otherwise they would not be on board with praise.
State Representative John Adams (R-Sidney) said of the law, "If the founding fathers documents would be adhered to and taught. we wouldn't be in the particular situation we're in at the Federal level with the expansion of government."

That, to me, sounds like the desire to teach history in a way that conforms to a rigid ideological view not supported by current accepted norms. It appears, that like in medicine, election to the Ohio Legislature makes you a prominent scholar. Thus you may over ride scholarship with indoctrination and a political agenda.

Many saw this as a back door to teaching Christian revisionist history.
So the Springboro Ohio School Board decided to offer a continuing education course devised by David Barton. A person with no history credentials and the author of a book on Jefferson pulled due to massive errors.

The course was to be taught by volunteers and promoted Barton's unfounded views of America as a Christian theocracy. Following outcry it was canceled. This of course raised the hackles of the reactionary right in Southwestern Ohio a bastion of right wing crazy.

Springboro also tried to add creationism to it's science teaching. That too was shelved following outcry. The school board is again looking at it.

Simply put we can not survive as a nation if we permit teaching to be pushed into presenting ignorant beliefs to be taught as fact. Knowledge is not ala carte. Facts are facts and it doesn't matter that you disagree.
If we are to compete in this world we can't allow science be defined by religious zealots who don't believe in it. The purpose of history is to teach us who we are and why we are.

Ohio wants to out crazy Texas. We are getting there.

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