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Promoting Humanism and Secular Values in the Classroom
Posted: 11 September 2011 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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DarronS - 10 September 2011 07:42 PM

Critical thinking is not the default state of mind for anyone.

It is for my kids. I remembre when my six-year old son asked me why his Christmas present said it was made in China and not the North Pole.  grin

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Posted: 11 September 2011 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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George - 11 September 2011 05:04 AM
DarronS - 10 September 2011 07:42 PM

Critical thinking is not the default state of mind for anyone.

It is for my kids. I remembre when my six-year old son asked me why his Christmas present said it was made in China and not the North Pole.  grin

Sounds like a smart kid.

grin

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Posted: 11 September 2011 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Gallant Skeptic - 10 September 2011 12:55 PM

Let me explain something about my field first. I teach in a somewhat unique field, that of English as second or foreign language. In other words, I teach people from countries in which English is not the native language to speak English. Moreover, let me tell you something about this field. There tend to be two types who enter into this field, those who want to travel and see the world, and those religious zealots looking for a means to travel the world in order to spread their religious propaganda.

In consideration of this fact, I’ve been thinking for some time now about how, as an educator, I can promote humanist and rationalistic beliefs in the classroom without inadvertently stepping into the area of overtly proselytizing or preaching to the class, which I would deem to be inappropriate. I see no reason why this field should be surrendered to religion. Moreover, It seems to me that as a humanist, I am in a position to do people, who might not have been exposed to religious propaganda in the past, a huge favor by inoculating their minds against the nonsense they are likely to encounter from my colleagues who are pushing their religious nonsense.

I’m not certain how I should go about this though, and I was hoping that some people on this forum might have some ideas. I think it’s much more clear how one can promote humanism and freethought in a science or philosophy classroom, but things are much more sketchy in a classroom such as that which I work in. I look forward to hearing any ideas others might have.

I don’t think that you can do this in a basic language class; just memorizing vocabulary and grammar and basic social contexts really take precedence. If you’re teaching advanced classes, though, where you can basically teach English as we get it taught to us in middle and high school, you can encourage people to write critical essays - in English - of material that is pertinent to what you think is important. Just make sure that anything that you bring forward is also pertinent to learning culture, not just critical thinking. Otherwise, I think that you’d be stray a bit too far from teaching English. For example, having them write about a Richard Dawkins lecture probably wouldn’t be kosher, but having them write about a TV show in which Richard Dawkins appears would be a much better fit.

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Posted: 11 September 2011 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I don’t think you will be able to implement this…

Also it’s ironic you called other overzealous…I see that being done in what you want to teach…

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Posted: 11 September 2011 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Promoting Humanism and Secular Values in the Classroom can only happen in Charter Schools or even in Private schools if the money in available.  We Humanists are going to have to development enough in the way of members to make a stand in allowing Humanism to be a way of life; a choice and a rational point of view.  We are making strides but it will take 100 years before we are accepted as true citizens of the earth. 

I have a long-time friend who has been deeply involved in Jesus Christ and I have tried for years to give her the truth about his birth, his preachings and what people have done to make money on this.  She has the capacity of a tabloid reader and retains nothing of the truth.  I have spent years trying to open her mind but I cannot cut through her background of Christian Science.  She was open to knowledge but it left her after she left her family and took on a new life in Spain.  Nothing went right for her and she returned to California where her family never again accepted her.  Somehow her brain was filled with knowledge of hatred for gays and she had a problem accepting her own grandson.  Her interest in politics rests on their sex life.  She doesn’t care how they vote but is concerned about where and with whom they sleep. 

I mention her because she lives around me with hundreds of the same kind of people.  I often wondered about my friend and how she was raised to ignore facts about people that really matter.  I’m in my very late 70s and it seems as if my age group was not involved in the politics behind WW2, Korea or Vietnam.  What the hell were they involved in during those years?  I had several uncles who volunteered in all parts of the armed forces and we followed their movements as well as we could. 

I grew up on the outskirts of the Hollywood people.  My family was involved and the one thing that we all worried about and hated was “Confidential Magazine.”  The lies told about some wonderful screen stars are still popping up in conversations around the pool here and elsewhere.  I mention a Senator or Congressman and immediately I’m told that he gay, a wife beater, a liar and a cheater on his taxes.  They have no clue what political party he represents but the stories grow as they are being told.  Is this what Christian beliefs do to people who should know better?  They will not discuss politics as it starts fights!!!

This is the voting bloc that put President Bush 43 in power because he was a born again Christian who did not have ability to read his emails and we lived through 911.  I put a lot of blame on these ignorant Christian voters who were too stupid to recognize Bush 43 and put him in again. 

My hope for a rational future for America must come from the next generation as this one is phucked up!  I read a translation found in a Mayan historical ruin that said “When God Speaks, Unity is Gone.”  Is this why they had to leave their nation in droves? Was it the beginning of the Inquisitions that destroyed much of Europe?  The Inquisition is waiting patiently for Rick Perry to take over the White House?

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Posted: 11 September 2011 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Affluenza - 11 September 2011 08:04 AM

Also it’s ironic you called other overzealous…I see that being done in what you want to teach…

The problem here is that the majority of humanists believe in moral realism. They feel, therefore, entitled to promote their beliefs similarly to the theists believing in their right to spreading the word of God.

Did somebody say critical thinking?  smile

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Posted: 11 September 2011 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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George - 11 September 2011 08:53 AM
Affluenza - 11 September 2011 08:04 AM

Also it’s ironic you called other overzealous…I see that being done in what you want to teach…

The problem here is that the majority of humanists believe in moral realism. They feel, therefore, entitled to promote their beliefs similarly to the theists believing in their right to spreading the word of God.

Did somebody say critical thinking?  smile

Ofcourse…just pointing out the hypocrisy…

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Posted: 11 September 2011 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Let me point out that I have been a political writer for 30 years.  When I am involved in a discussion of political actions, I am eager to explain the problem when the separation of church and state has been ignored.  I am very well read in the European take over from the Pope that set off an Inquisition that brought blood into the streets of all the major cities.  When America was the place for new immigrants many of these over zealous people were Evangelicals.  They tried to run their cities under the restricted laws they brought with them.  The Salem Witch burnings were typical of the terrorism that landed on our shores. 

I should sit back and watch this crap repeated in the new homeland?  Our founders came to the same decision and the First Amendment of our U.S. Constitution calls for no religious laws to be part of the new government.  Letters between Madison and Jefferson called it out as a “Separation of Church and State.”  It was President Bush 43 that broke the separation when he furnished federal grants to the churches. 

Hypocrite?  or activist?  You people will attack anything…..I have an opinion that many might find offensive.. get over it!

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Posted: 11 September 2011 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I’ve found that there is no such thing as “you people” here, Sandy. I like what I’ve read of yours and would hate to think you saw me as one of “you people.”  smile

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Posted: 11 September 2011 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Sorry.  I do tend to get a load of criticism here and much of us has little merit of my points of view.  I’m also getting very old and I’m running out of time to have to explain everything I write.

I apologize…..

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Posted: 11 September 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Sandy Price - 11 September 2011 10:39 AM

Sorry.  I do tend to get a load of criticism here and much of us has little merit of my points of view.  I’m also getting very old and I’m running out of time to have to explain everything I write.

I apologize…..

No prob, but you also seem to have friends here.  cheese

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Posted: 11 September 2011 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Sandy Price - 11 September 2011 10:39 AM

I’m also getting very old and I’m running out of time to have to explain everything I write.

  Bah, you’re just a kid, Sandy.  I was going to Venice High School while you were still in the first few grades, and by the time you were at Hollywood High I was well into UCLA.  So stop feeling so old.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 12 September 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Occam, had I gone to Hollywood High instead of Westlake School for Girls, I might be able to understand American values with clearer eyes.  Had I been brought up as the rest of the kids, instead of chasing the surfers in Malibu, things would have been different.  I have 18 months before I hit 80 but my fingers are not working in conjuction with my brain these days.

Wish me luck, I just submitted a commentary to Politico based on my fear of a Christian America.  I have been ignored in the past and this may be my last attempt to be read. 

Thanks!

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Posted: 12 September 2011 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 11 September 2011 05:33 AM

I don’t think that you can do this in a basic language class; just memorizing vocabulary and grammar and basic social contexts really take precedence. If you’re teaching advanced classes, though, where you can basically teach English as we get it taught to us in middle and high school, you can encourage people to write critical essays - in English - of material that is pertinent to what you think is important. Just make sure that anything that you bring forward is also pertinent to learning culture, not just critical thinking. Otherwise, I think that you’d be stray a bit too far from teaching English. For example, having them write about a Richard Dawkins lecture probably wouldn’t be kosher, but having them write about a TV show in which Richard Dawkins appears would be a much better fit.

You are quite right Andrew; however, most of my classes are advanced. I would never ask students to read or write on something like a Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers interview that focuses on the topic of religion; that would be overtly biased. With that being said, however, I taught a course last year to a group of low level intermediate students, and the textbook contained a reading that discussed the Mormon religion and their “unique” ideas about marriage. Moreover, this reading was in a regular ESL textbook. The class I was teaching was primarily Korean, and I was happy that a mainstream ESL textbook had a reading explaining some of the more extreme Mormon practices because it seemed to me that students who had read this article would be less likely to allow a Mormon proselytizer to persuade them.

This is precisely what I mean by promoting rationalism, not by preaching but by educating.

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Posted: 12 September 2011 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Affluenza - 11 September 2011 08:04 AM

I don’t think you will be able to implement this…

Also it’s ironic you called other overzealous…I see that being done in what you want to teach…

Yes, I understand that I am not as open minded or as accepting of religious beliefs as many others on this board. On the subject of religion, I agree with Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers; I only consider the plausibility of religious views in a theoretical sense, in the same sense that I might consider the possibility that dragons or goblins might exist.  Furthermore, having grown up in a religious fundamentalist household, I have experienced the harm that religion can cause first hand. I was that child that was threatened with hellfire for questioning religious dogma, and I observed with my own eyes people suffering abuses for questioning patriarchal authority in the religious family unit. Hence, I feel that it is the responsibility of rational and freethinking individuals to confront religious propaganda wheresoever we may find it, particularly when one considers the misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and child abuse that occurs as a result of religious indoctrination.

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