Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good education wins in 9th Circuit

(via pharyngula)

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a high school history teacher who was critical of creationist arguments in his class. The concern in this case was that the teacher may have been violating the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Here are some of the teachers remarks:
“Aristotle … argued, you know, there sort of has to be a God. Of course that’s nonsense,” Corbett said according to a transcript of his lecture. “I mean, that’s what you call deductive reasoning, you know. And you hear it all the time with people who say, ‘Well, if all this stuff that makes up the universe is here, something must have created it.’ Faulty logic. Very faulty logic.”

He continued: “The other possibility is, it’s always been there.… Your call as to which one of those notions is scientific and which one is magic.”

“All I’m saying is that, you know, the people who want to make the argument that God did it, there is as much evidence that God did it as there is that there is a giant spaghetti monster living behind the moon who did it,” the transcript says.

Corbett told his students that “real” scientists try to disprove the theory of evolution. “Contrast that with creationists,” he told his students. “They never try to disprove creationism. They’re all running around trying to prove it. That’s deduction. It’s not science. Scientifically, it’s nonsense.”
That sounds reasonable to me, as this is a critique of the problems with creationist arguments and not a flat out rejection of creationism. In other words, if this teacher would have just said that creationism is nonsense without providing the reasons why it is nonsense, then it would be an issue.

Judge Raymond Fisher, who wrote for the court, said the following:
“But teachers must also be given leeway to challenge students to foster critical thinking skills and develop their analytical abilities,” he said. “This balance is hard to achieve, and we must be careful not to curb intellectual freedom by imposing dogmatic restrictions.”
Being critical of creationist logic should help foster those critical thinking skills, and that is why I support this teacher's actions.

Unfortunately, the coverage on TYT, a favorite liberal biased show of mine, was disappointing.

If you can't criticize bad ideas in the educational system, then we will keep falling further behind the rest of the modern world in education.

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