Looks like the folks running a charter school near Kansas City need a lesson in the separation of church and state. They’ve been using federal funds to purchase books such as Children’s Bible Handbook and Exploring God’s World: Science which is a big no-no. The Kansas Department of Education considers this to be a “side issue” as they are already trying to remove the school’s funding because students are rarely in the classroom and have little contact with the teachers. The school, naturally, is suing the State to try and keep the funding. Their argument for buying religious text books? Not doing so would be discrimination.
“Our point is if someone feels they would best learn … with a certain textbook, who publishes that textbook shouldn’t matter,” he said.
“If we allow people to use curriculums they feel are best for their learning style but we don’t allow them to use materials from certain publishers because they are faith-based publishers, we are discriminating.”
Right. So I suppose this means we should allow kids to study math with books that teach that two plus two equals five because otherwise we’re discriminating against text books produced by stupid people.
Just out of curiosity, I did some searching to see if I could find any examples of the lessons being taught about “science” in the book Exploring God’s World: Science by Bonnie Pettifor. What I found was both amusing and annoying.
Biblical Concept: God rewards those who follow his instructions.
Science Objective: Students will explore the nature of sound.
Introduction: This favorite Bible story tells how Joshua carefully followed God’s instructions so that the Israelites could conquer the city of Jericho with “sound faith.”
OK, let’s stop right here for a moment and digest this. We’re going to tie together why you should obey God to the nature of sound with a story about Joshua’s bloody conquest of Jericho where the only survivors are a prostitute named Rahab and the handful of people she had in her home. Everyone else “men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys” were put to “the edge of the sword.”
Must have been one helluva good prostitute.
Anyway, the lesson goes on to demonstrate the idea of sound traveling through molecules bumping into each other by using five checkers lined up and knocking one of them into the rest.
State that the checkers are air molecules bumping into each other due to sound (represented by the flick of the checker). The movement proceeds from one “molecule” to the next.
No word on explaining what a molecule is, but perhaps that was covered earlier in the book. The unit then covers some of the musical instruments that Joshua used in his little battle. Now they move onto the closure which is supposed to emphasize the big lesson kids are supposed to take away from this “science lesson” which would be that sound travels by making molecules bump into each other, right? Shows what you know, ha ha!
Closure: Reinforce that God rewarded Joshua for following his instructions and for having faith in him.
That’s right kids! If you pray to God and follow his instructions you too may be able someday to use the power of the Lord to conquer a WHOLE CITY and be allowed to kill every man, woman, child and animal therein! Won’t that be fun? Wheeee!
For those teachers who think this might not be enough information they go on to offer some tips for extending the unit.
Explain to students that sound moves molecules in a wave pattern. To demonstrate, have a student hold one end of a rope while you hold the other. Flip your end so that the rope moves in waves. Have students pretend to march around Jericho blowing their musical instruments (page 16).
I wonder if some teachers take it a step further and select a girl to play the part of Rahab and a bunch of other kids to play the part of the rest of the population so the kids with the instruments could rush in and pretend to put them all to the edge of the sword. Wouldn’t that be educational? I bet they’d learn a lot from that exercise.
The next tip is to “learn about the parts of the ear” with no information about the ear present. Must need to buy a different book for that. Then there’s a “writing starter:”
God gave Joshua a plan for defeating Jericho. Write a three-step plan to solve a problem in your own life. Remember to pray about the problem first.
Yeah, that’ll really teach the kids about the nature of sound! With science education of this quality it’s no wonder that only 45% of adult Americans in 2001 knew that lasers don’t work by focusing sound waves. For the math impaired; that means 55% think lasers are concentrated sound instead of concentrated light.
Superintendent Rustin Clark said the district carefully screens requests for instructional materials and only buys items that meet an educational need.
‘‘Our point is if someone feels they would best learn … with a certain textbook, who publishes that textbook shouldn’t matter,’’ he said.
Yeah, why should we demand our science books teach good science as long as the student feels they’re learning better with the faith-based stuff? I wonder if Superintendent Rustin Clark can tell me what lasers are composed of? He reviews the books for the suitability himself, after all.