Thursday, March 02, 2006

Polarizing issue a-brewing in Denver

Two very different chants are being heard outside Overland High School in the Cherry Creek School District (a suburb of Denver) right now: "Teach Don't Preach" vs. "Freedome of Speech, Let Him Teach." Seems a high school geography teacher, Jay Bennish, has been speaking his mind during class and some students have taken exception to it. One in particular recorded one of Bennish's lectures and released it to the press. Here's a link to an article about it in the Rocky Mountain News.

People are really up in arms over this; the teacher's personal views are decidedly anti-Bush, so it stands to reason that those who are supporting him on the "Free Speech" platform support his views, and those who are calling for his head on the "Teach Don't Preach" platform don't support his views.

To me, there's a lot of hypocrisy going on here on both sides, and that hypocrisy is most evident when you consider the issue of religion in schools.

Most of those claiming that Bennish has the right to express his personal views in class are the same ones who fight tooth-and-nail against religion in schools; it's the stereotypical "left-wing" stance.

Most of those claiming that Bennish doesn't have the right to express his personal views in class are the same ones who believe creationism and religion should be discussed in schools; the stereotypical "right-wing" stance.

I'm sure there are those, like me, who don't fit into either camp. Unfortunately it's the people on the fringes who are screaming the loudest.

My take is pretty simple; keep your opinion out of it. Religion, politics, whatever. Present situations, present sides, present facts, present theories. Encourage discourse and discovery. Let the kids generate their own conclusions. Once you venture into the realm of self-righteous -- in other words, your own personal beliefs -- you are no longer teaching.

The most engaging and rewarding class experiences I ever had were with teachers who presented many sides and many issues but never told me how I was supposed to feel about them.



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