Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Faith in Schools

This is a documentary by Richard Dawkins. It's primarily concerned with British schools, but the arguments apply equally well to our own system.

Dawkins' first argument is undeniable. If the government is spending taxpayer money, faith should not be a component in the schooling. If schools want to maintain religious aspects to their school, and thus discriminate based on religion, government funding must drop to zero.

Dawkin's second argument is not nearly as definite, though. He argues that faith schools in general are bad for children. While I agree, allowing the argument of "doing it for the children" opens the door to all of the abject stupidity we see with grandstanding politicians day-in and day-out. If you can't figure out how to argue your position rationally, pull out the "children" card. I think that it's dangerous to allow the "for the kids" argument at all.

From a more libertarian perspective, I also think that it's the right of the parents to raise their children however they see fit, even if that leads irrevocably to the child's death. Again, doing otherwise introduces to the concept of "for the children." While I think that the argument is valid, and we can, in fact, come up with objective variables by which to measure the "good" for the child, the subject is far too easily hijacked by grandstanding politicrits looking for easy hay. We need to avoid areas of discourse that are easily perverted.

So, in a sense, I'm not actually against Dawkins in the meat of his argument. He says that we can determine if something is good or bad, children are their own people and not property of their parents, and as such the government must enforce a standard on parents. I just think that it's a terrible idea in practice.

Part 2 is my favorite part. An Islamic faith school allows them to film the lessons, apparently the only school that did, and the students and teachers are then interviewed. It's almost uncomfortable to watch the students and teachers squirm in their seats as they try to explain the disconnect between the government science curriculum and their faith vis-à-vis evolution. Everyone in the room reiterated that everyone gets to make their own choice. It's convenient how everyone made the same choice. I find it interesting because of the societal difference between Britain and the US. In Britain, the school seems almost aware of how stupid what they're doing is, while US schools will proudly declare that evolution is wrong and the scientists who advocate for it are all imbeciles.

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