I went with my 4th grade nephew to his public school for Grandparent's Day. This is his first year there after attending a horribly expensive and distant religious private school (high academic standards, lowball on the dogma). Got the tour by Dear Nephew where he mostly pointed out his appreciation of the building's architectural sensibilities, which were darn nice.

We visited his art class and met the teacher, a nice if somewhat frazzled young woman. The first thing I noticed was a poster by the classroom door that read, more or less, "Enter class quickly and go directly to your assigned seat. Do not talk -- only the Teacher and Special Helpers are allowed to talk except during discussion assignments. You will be given your assignment... I'm thinking, "Cripes, if this is art class I wonder what it would be like if they had ROTC at this school?"

The art teacher was nice enough and of course praised Dear Nephew profusely. We looked at twenty-some nearly identical student art projects and I asked her if all of what the students did was directed, or whether there was any free-form art. She replied, "Oh yes, at this time of year we have to do a Christmas gift project for the parents and each child is told that they can create whatever they want to be fired onto a mug. Of course, most of them are inappropriate for a Christmas gift, so I have to guide them". The room was filled with windows, and all the blinds were closed.

Next we went to his main classroom and met the teacher responsible for science, math, English, social studies, etc. Another very nice if somewhat frazzled young woman. Assigned seating again, but this time along four long tables named for local college football teams. Above the door was a reproduction painting of blue-eyed Christ wearing a cross necklace (?) and in 60-point font "IN GOD WE TRUST". The teacher talked about curriculum and how the students were prepared for testing and how the school had come so far in testing results. She proudly showed the social studies project underway, generously sponsored by Ingles supermarket (complete with take-home coupons), that attempts to show value among various product brands.

I asked her, "What do you think that a parent should ask their child each day when they come home about what they learned in school?" She replied. "Oh we give them a printout of the assignments". I said OK, well as a teacher, what question do you most want a parent to ask you." She replied, after some thought, "Gosh, I never thought about that. I guess it would be if their child was doing OK".

We went out into the hallway to the trophy case where the most prominently displayed item was a student letter to a congressman laying out the successful case for the praying mantis to be the official state insect. Quote: "We must all be reminded every day that prayer is our first priority...".

I suppose that it goes without saying that I was not impressed with what my nephew is being taught. It is several small steps above what I was taught in Carolina public school so long ago when our days started with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by duck & cover drills to protect us from the godless communists.

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Sad.

Do you mean that this was a pubic school or have I misread you? I'm hoping you made a mistake and it's a religious school you're portraying...

Yes Ceil, this is a public school in South Carolina.  The religious symbolism is beyond anything I saw at the religious school that he previously attended, but then that school did have required bible classes, which I hope that the public school does not.  Actually, I'd be in favor of comparative religion / mythology classes (something he got in Montessori kindergarten) that weren't biased to one particular flavor.  But a blue-eyed Jesus wearing a cross necklace?  That's something better left for an abnormal psychology class.

Case (my nephew) is pretty level-headed and smarter than anyone else I know.  He did well at the religious school with their high academic standards, and even made a short presentation on evolution that he knew wouldn't make him any friends there.  Dear Li'l Sis, Case's Mom, just got back from a meeting with his Advanced Placement teacher who told her bluntly that Case doesn't belong at that school.  She said that he is one in perhaps ten thousand, and that it's her opinion that no one in the county school system has anything to teach him.  I don't like hearing that because I want to believe that public schools should be, if not the pinnacle of education, at least the standard by which we define how smart  and educated our society will be, and not just where you dump the poor dumb kids while Mom & Dad go earn a paycheck.

Case came home exited today because his teacher gave him responsibility for teaching the next segment of biology.  She gave him the prescribed lesson plan and told him that the content and presentation would be up to him.  Gotta give 'em credit -- my teachers would never have done that.  He's in the house right now working on a PowerPoint (or the iPad equivalent) about how some dinosaurs are still around in the form of birds.

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Misread your original post.  Didn't realize it was a public school.  So, it's not just sad, but sounds like it goes against the constitution.

yes I agree with Idaho - very sad and not constitutional

Ted, that idea of a blue eyed Christ would have had me asking them if it was Jeffrey Hunter. They could have always replied that he was an actor, and they wanted their picture to be as accurate as possible. The absurdity here is that it is not possible, now or ever!

Blue eyed Christ wearing a cross necklace. How about a hangman's noose or an electric chair? As for the "in god we trust" part of it, add a couple of buckeyes also and change it to "in god I hope."

In my early church days years ago it was a sin to have a TV because the outside antenna was just "crucifying Christ all over again." People would also repeat from some lame sermon where a person asked Christ how much he loved him, and then Jebus spread out his arms saying "I love you this much." This is so laughingly pathetic today. Thank Thor for cable TV.

Then we have the positioning of that cross. Was it an X or even a simple stake? Well, let's turn our hangman's noose or electric chairs on their sides or maybe upside down. Wear 'em that way.

"Hey, man. Your electric chair is turned upside down."

"Yeah, I know. That's for St. Peter. It's OK coz he was strapped in."

"Ahh, OK."

When we arrived at the school the place was packed and we had to park some distance away.  There were a few thousand people in attendance, which is impressive for a small rural school.  It speaks well of parental (or in this case grandparental) involvement.  But in that throng I saw not one face with a hint of dark pigment.  That's just odd because it's not what you see in the general populace here.  Where do the brown kids go to school?

When Dear Nephew was going to a religious private school I was concerned that his education was insular, and in a way it was.  That was a very expensive school that took about a third of his mom's income for tuition, and she's not poor (owns her own engineering firm).  He was there because a business associate had given him a personal grant for the first year, and his mom managed to pay for it the second year.  Only those who could afford it were there, and some Christian messages were taught.  But there were students from all over the world with many religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.  Many of them probably held their noses on the dogma to get a good education.  I'm sure that the school recognized this, and so religion was kept at a low simmer.

At the public school, so oddly segregated, you would probably be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't identify as a Christian.  And so they seem to see nothing wrong with displaying overt Christian symbolism, regardless of legality.  I rather doubt that any student has ever questioned that Jesus picture over the door.  Heck, from what I could tell many of them may never have met a black or Hispanic kid, let alone a Muslim or Buddhist or atheist.

When I was a student in the Jim Crow South our schools were officially segregated until I was in the 6th grade.  Our music teacher led us in songs like "I went to the river and I couldn't get across, so I jumped on a nigger 'cause I thought he was a hoss...".  This was considered normal, and you would have been hard-pressed to find a student in our 'white' school who didn't see it as such.  Those attitudes of white supremacy are mostly gone or marginalized, but attitudes of Christian supremacy linger in the South and seem normal.

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Took Dear Nephew yesterday to his AP (Advanced Placement) robotics club initial meeting (generously sponsored by Lego). This was a much smaller crowd, as only AP students were invited. I have a problem with that too, since some kids who can't muster good general grades could be geniuses at this sort of thing. It was presented as a sport, much like football. Teamwork and competition were emphasized -- stylized T-shirts & hats, team names, chants, provocative presentation and, oh yeah, creativity helps, especially creativity at showmanship.

We watched a short video of a local team at national competition. They got up on stage in their silly T-shirts & hats and did some kind of dance, winning the 'team spirit' prize. Their robotics entry was a battery-powered car with interchangeable attachments that accomplished several tasks -- all grabbing stuff and bringing it back. It was pretty cool, if bland. Before the competition started they all stood in a circle and prayed -- each exactly like the other. During the competition only two kids were on stage, and they did a decent job. I noticed that one of them did most of the work when things went a little wonky, while the other one closed his eyes and pursed his hands in prayer. At their closing speech the praying kid thanked God for giving them a good performance. The other kid looked a little pissed.

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It's the casual assumption of the majority that everyone agrees with you.

A very lucid statement -- thanks Chad.

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It's because of that, that when I was single it was very hard to chat up a girl at a bar or a club as an atheist.

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