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Jeannie and Peter and Woody,
> This is an awfully big bite for us to chew on Larry...
> couldn't you come up with something more manageable.
Of course not; just not my way. It's the role of devil's advocate and
Socratic gad-fly. Not enough people question the basic assumptions...
Obviously, some things *are* universal: basic communication and
computational skills, general knowledge of world history, a firm grounding
in scientific knowledge, theory and methodology, and, yes, I strongly
include the arts. If pressed to the wall for a reason on the arts, rather
than claim some esoteric "good for the spirit" reason, I think I would place
them under the communication arts. They are, after all, a means for the
individual to comment with others - musically, graphically, etc.
Languages should be taught strictly according to accepted national
linguistic standards. Local dialects and accents are picked up naturally
from the environment, but the students still need to know how to communicate
accurately with others to speak the same language.
Certainly local history should be taught - it gives the student a grounding
in the nature and development of the place where they live; it roots them
and gives them a sense of how local history affects them today on a day to
The original question, though, related to Kansas' decision to not teach
evolution. Granted that it is a theory (though a strongly supported
theory), should local school districts be allowed (especially as those
sitting in judgment are more often politicians than academicians) to
"decide" what is and is not valuable knowledge? No one seems to have
questioned teaching Relativity Theory in Science, yet it is a theory
nonetheless (though about as strongly supported as evolution!). What about
the districts which either mandate that teachers not teach, or buy
historical textbooks which 'change' history or leave out "uncomfortable"
sections altogether? Is it alright for them to not teach the fact that the
U.S. was much more violent and untrustworthy toward our indigenous peoples
than many textbooks, teachers and TV shows like to depict? Does anyone
teach that the Indians did not invent scalping until taught it by the
French(?), to prove how many English they had killed? Or that the Indians,
though they did fight with each other, never engaged in Warfare, which seeks
to either eliminate or bring under complete control another group?
What if some local school district decided that you could not teach abstract
impressionism? Too detached from reality, too much 'imagination' and
'fantasy'; or Michelangelo because there are too many nudes?
Sorry, Peter; just more questions...
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