Opinionated Civil War teacher
Posted: 02 October 2006 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m a senior in high school.  I’m looking for advice about some problems that I’m having with my Civil War teacher.  The way that he teaches his class, its like if you aren’t a conservative republican and a fundamentalist christian, you are a heathen and you are going to hell.  He offends me on a daily basis by talking about foreigners, homosexuals, non-christians (and unitarians), believers of evolution, and democrats.  Some of the things that he teaches us are simply not true; for example, he told us that "The Origin of the Species by Natural Selection" was written specifically to promote slavery.  He claims that the "favorite race" refers specifically to the superiority of whites over blacks.  He also pointed out that the bible says "be fruitful and multiply," not "use contraceptive," and that because of this, the use of contraception is a sin, which completely contradicts the sex education program at my school.  I could go on for hours listing things that he shouldn’t be teaching in public school and that offend me.

I was told by another teacher who is a good friend of mine that the principal has talked to him once before about this issue, particularly the things he says about homosexuality and abortion, but it didn’t make any difference to the way he taught.  I don’t want him to just censor himself for me; it really bothers me that he is teaching this stuff in all of his classes, and most of the students just go along with it like a bunch of sheep.  I have asked a few teachers who know him whether it would be a good idea to speak out about it during class, but they have all told me that it is definitely a bad idea because there have been students who have done that in the past, and he tends to hold a grudge against those students and make things difficult for them.  I asked my biology teacher if she could just explain the concept of evolution and survival of the fittest (which he obviously simply doesn’t understand) to him.  I also talked to my philosophy teacher and asked if he could explain a few particular concepts that we learned about in philosophy to him.  Both my philosophy teacher and my biology teacher refused to speak to him about it, but they both encouraged me to speak with the principal, and they weren’t surprised by what I told them.  But I’m afraid to speak to the principal; she doesn’t like me very much because of an issue last year where I got her in trouble with the school board (long story).  Also, I don’t really want her to just tell him that he offended me, and ask him to censor his opinion in that class, because then, first, I am opposed to any kind of censorship, and second, he will still teach his propaganda in other classes, and after I leave.  As long as he is a teacher, he is always going to teach propaganda, no matter what anyone tells him.  I’m just not sure what I should do now.  Any advice?
Thanks,
Craig

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Posted: 02 October 2006 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ll be interested to hear other advice from the forum, but really you have a very difficult issue, DJ Craig. It sounds like you have an incompetent teacher. My guess is that you’re doing all you really can right now by challenging him and making other people in the school aware of the problem.

Perhaps you can get your parents to talk with the principal or the school board. BTW, is this a public or private school?

Certainly, you’re right that censorship isn’t a good thing, but on the other hand neither is teaching literal falsehoods in class, or religious indoctrination masquerading as schooling. So it sounds very delicate.

:?

I’d also recommend you keep in touch on the board and let us know what’s going on! If we can’t do very much, at least it’ll get the annoyance off your chest.

:wink:

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Doug

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Posted: 02 October 2006 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s a public school.  My parents agree with me about the problem, but they don’t want me to speak out or do anything.  It’s because I’m a tuition student; in fact, I live near the border, so I go to school in a different state from where I live.  She is afraid that since I’m a tuition student, and they have no legal obligation to let me stay at the school, they will expell me for doing this.  I don’t see that happening, but if it did, I would go to the ACLU.

I sent an email to the Secular Student Alliance about this today, and they called me back.  They’re going to contact the teacher.  I’m not really sure what they will say to him.  They said they would keep me anonymous.

I’m a bit afraid to challenge him in class too much, because I have heard from other students and a teacher that he tends to hold grudges against people who speak out too much.  I have talked to the other students in the class, and some of them agree with me, but none of them really feel very strongly about it; they don’t seem to really care either way.

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Posted: 02 October 2006 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It’s good to hear that something is getting done here. You should certainly also check out:

The CFI’s Campus Freethought organization website .

If you like, contact someone there. Debbie Goddard (DebGod) is an Admin on this board, maybe she will know better how to help.

Best,

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Posted: 09 October 2006 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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DJ,

I don’t know if this helps, but I’m pretty much convinced that to be a theist one must be either a dolt or deluded. In some cases, and I think this teacher of your is one such case, the theist turns out to be both, a deluded dolt.

Hang in there, just continue being the better man.

Steve

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Posted: 22 December 2006 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi DJ Craig,

High school situations are tough—I remember when I was a student, a teacher joked that we “checked our rights at the door.”  Certain teachers and administrations can certainly make it feel that way.

If you’re interested in moving in that direction, you can contact Ron Lindsay, who heads up our legal department, at the CFI-Washington DC office at rlindsay[at]cfidc[dot]org.  He should be able to be of assistance, especially if parents are concerned about the issue.

Debbie

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Posted: 22 December 2006 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It appears the school is well aware of the situation, but not concerned enough to do anything about it.  How can you make them more concerned, concerned enough to take action? 

You might want to consider taping a few of his classes (clandestinely, of course).  Get at least three or four instances of his propaganda over the course of several days.  Then forward copies of the sound files to the local papers and to other news media that you trust to protect your anonymity.  Then sit back and let them make it an issue for the school.

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