posted on Nov, 2 2014 @ 02:53 PM
Evolution. The Big Bang. Global Warming. American History. World History. The Histories of World Religions. These hot-button Culture War topics are
often in the news, for one reason or another. In most cases, they are at the center of some argument between a school and the parents of a student,
with the parents being outraged that the school would dare to teach their child something that conflicts with the education they’re giving that
child at home.
A natural and reasonable response to these parents is to try and allay their fears about the scientific or historical accuracy of the curriculum in
question, or to assure these people that it is not the school system’s intention to “brainwash” their child or to intentionally undermine the
child’s extracurricular education programs. Such a defense falls on the parents’ deaf ears though, partly because it is not addressing the real
problem these parents have with the curriculum, and partly because the educational establishment isn’t being completely honest with itself about its
Parents aren’t concerned with the accuracy of the course -- if accuracy were the problem, they wouldn’t be clamoring to get rid of science-based
biology and climate education. They wouldn’t object to the simple relaying of historical evidence regarding Islam, if their primary concern was that
their student be taught history as it happened. They wouldn’t be up in arms about the importance of Deism to many of America’s founders if they
wanted their child to understand the reasons behind the American Revolution in the context of the real world.
These parents who are so quick to anger toward schools are not afraid that their children are not getting a proper education -- and so arguments that
attempt to assure them that the curriculum is fact-based and without ulterior motives only fuels their anger.
And let’s be honest with ourselves. The curriculum does have an ulterior motive, at least with respect to the parents’ objectives in the education
of their children. Our public education system is designed, however ineffectively and bureaucratically, to instill facts in the minds of children, and
facts are precisely what these parents so despise.
These people do not want their children to learn that Islam saved modern mathematics from the Dark Ages, because in order for their worldview to
survive their children must believe that Islam is a soulless death factory with no positive aspects whatsoever. Their children must believe that
climate change is a myth, so they will grow up to be wasteful, shortsighted, selfish and ignorant just like their parents are. Evolution must be
false, at least in the minds of their children, otherwise they might reject the anthropocentric worldview of their parents. America must be a
Christian Nation founded by Christian Saints, or their children might learn that it is possible to coexist with people who believe differently than
you without marginalizing them or abusing them.
This is why we must not give in to these people. This is why when they call the School Board to complain about actual science and actual facts in the
curriculum, the only acceptable response is to politely let them know that the school board does not care what kind of nonsense they teach their kids
after school, but when their children are in a public setting with other children, facts and science are more important than hocus-pocus or
We must be honest with ourselves. The Culture War is a real war. There are real battles and there are real casualties. Every time a school permits the
reality of evolution to be questioned, they are teaching their students that science is less meaningful than willful ignorance, and those kids grow up
unprepared to deal with a world that behaves according to natural laws, not religious commandments. Every time a school fails to inform a child’s
worldview with true history, it leaves a vacuum to be filled her parents’ superstitions and prejudices. Every time a student is allowed to grow up
thinking the crap their parents have spoonfed him is true just because they said it was true, we unleash an adult on the world who is intent on
spreading lies and assumptions.
And this war isn’t just a war of words and ideas. Because people do not understand science, they refuse to vaccinate their kids, leading to
thousands of unnecessary infections and deaths. Because people refuse to accept real history in schools, we are a nation of xenophobes and warmongers,
sending thousands of young people to kill and be killed. Because we allow evolution and climate change to be questioned in schools, we face
generations of people willing to sacrifice the future of the planet for the illusion of temporary gain. Because we teach faulty economic theories, we
sentence millions to poverty. And because we refuse to see this war for what it is, we keep repeating the cycle.
Ultimately, the rift between education and uneducated parents is a war for the right to shape the hearts and minds of the future. We aren’t just
fighting over science or history, we are fighting over who gets to define the world in which we live. And because no one exists in a vacuum, the only
rational victor in this must be verifiable, testable truth. Society’s right to educate itself must trump individual parents’ rights to impose
narrowmindedness and cowardly conservatism on their children.