Friday, March 23, 2007

The Classroom: No Place For Questions

The world is flat; Marxism works; the Earth is at the physical center of the universe; man was not meant to fly, and Darwinian Evolution explains the origination and diversity of all life.

Some day all these ideas will be relegated to the same dustbin of history -- but it won't be today. No, today Kris Helphinstine, a part-time high school biology teacher was fired. Why?

Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included supplemental material to teach students about bias in [biology text book] sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking.

That was enough for the Sisters, Oregon School Board, which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution.

You'll notice that Helphinstine was not doing anything illegal or immoral. He wasn't selling crack cocaine to students. He wasn't having sex with his students. He didn't bring guns and ammo to school. Those kind of offenses just get you put on "administrative leave" while an investigation is launched regarding your "alleged" conduct.

No, Helphinstine was fired on the spot for having the audacity to suggest that students should learn to investigate truth claims for themselves. He was fired for not submitting to the Darwinist Orthodoxy that must remain unquestioned in our public schools. He was fired for having the audacity to promote the idea that students should be allowed to ask questions about the most profound and important issues surrounding their very being and existence.

Can't have that.

Sisters, Oregon Board Member Jeff Smith was incensed by Helphinstine's radical notion:

"I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line," Smith said. "It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms."

Following Smith's view to its logical conclusion, society should be happy with indoctrination. It is what we "trust our teachers to do in our classrooms."

I respectfully disagree.

While I also believe we have no right to indoctrinate students into any brand of Creationist orthodoxy, Helphinstine was doing no such thing. He was simply suggesting that students be allowed to examine the evidence about Evolution for themselves. It never ceases to amaze me that such an idea is controversial.

The irony of these type cases is that those who allegedly stand for the pursuit of truth as demonstrated by and objective practice of the scientific method are the very ones who:

  • Ignore or disregard the scientific evidence they claim to trust

  • Disallow any scrutiny or critique of the evidence or theories they hold dear

  • Berate and dismiss those who aren't getting with the program which promotes their own orthodoxy

Meanwhile, those who are accused of trying to impose the theocratic establishment (both political and scientific) of their religion on an unsuspecting society are happy to:

  • Welcome scrutiny of the actual evidence

  • Follow the evidence where it leads because they are confident and unafraid of the Truth

It really is amazing that the Darwinian Dogmatists exhibit every one of the attributes of the intolerant religionists they so claim to fear and abhor. My hope is that Kris Helphinstine will find gainful employment in a place that does have an authentic desire to know the truth and is not afraid of where it might find that truth or where that truth might lead.

Apparently, but unfortunately, the contemporary public classroom is not that kind of place.

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