Dennett: rights and education

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Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 19th, 2018, 11:26 am 

Dennett asks if parents have a right to keep their children in the dark about religion. Specifically, he wants children to be exposed to a wide variety of religious beliefs. I assume he believes that kind of education would degrade religious devotion.

I find myself feeling a little offended that the concept of rights is being wheeled out to service some anti-religious game. Rights are a tool for addressing real wrong-doing. Or is Dennett serious?
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 19th, 2018, 4:21 pm 

Maybe he just wants kids to learn a little tolerance. Religious tolerance seems to be in short supply in many areas, with lethal results.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 19th, 2018, 5:08 pm 

Parental rights are an interesting topic.

The much discussed Bill 89 in Canada for example seems to protect children's, especially native children, culture which I assume includes religion from unwarranted dilution. There are other aspects of the law that could be interpreted as extending protection of all children's cultural preferences although it does repeal the long standing prohibition for Catholic children to be placed in Protestant service agencies.

I'm not sure why Dennett is so obsessed with the religious delusion when there seems to be an infinite supply of bad ideas. In any case care should be taken to avoid creating authoritarian government to replace authoritarian religion.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby doogles on January 19th, 2018, 5:40 pm 

This thread generates recall of the religious education of me and my siblings. My parents were not religious. they were also not educated in that one left school after Grade 4 Primary, and the other after Grade 6. But like Dennett, decided that we should have an understanding of Christianity because it was the basis of our culture. When I was 8 years old, they decided to send us to Sunday School. The nearest church was a Methodist. They didn't take us: they just told us to go there, which we did. My brother John who was 2 years older than me and my sister 3 years older. But my brother John was a born leader and boldly led the three of us into the unknown (At the age of 7, it was he, and not my parents who took me off to for my first day at school at the age of 5, and he who used to get sent home by the teachers to bring me back each time I returned home because school was not my cup of tea).

Anyhow my memories of that first church were that a horsy toothed lady said these funny things. She stood up in front of us and other kids, saying silly things like "Forgive us our throopences as we forgive those who throopence against us." (Throopence was the only sibilant word we knew). And my older sister stopped going in short time.

It may have been after 6 months of this that my brother discovered that the Church of Christ about 40 yards along the same street had a gym and that we could learn how to do tumbles and moderate gymnastics. But after another 12 months he'd tried St Bartholmew's Anglican another 50 yards up the road and found that he was allowed to ring the bells that pealed over our suburb every Sunday morning. Not only that but he got me a job also ringing the bells on cue. We had cue boards with sequential numbers on them corresponding to each bell - so that as long as you pulled your bell rope in sequence, the bell rhythms came out okay.

As I'm thinking of St Bart's, I recall the most memorable moment which was almost a religious experience. As bell-pealers, we were last to sit down, so we always sat in the back row of pews.

It was one of those religiously quiet meditative silent moments in church ceremonies when Frankie Budge (one of our mates) let go the loudest cracking fart I've ever heard (or so it seemed at the time). The weird aspect of that incident was that the silence was maintained in spite of the fact that from the back seat we could see everybody from behind and all of the shoulders of the bodies in front of us were going up and down.

After about 6 months of bell pealing I got bored - and that was the end of my religious 'education'.

But my brother started going to the Presbyterian church another 50 metres up the road because there was a girl there that he liked.

After another year or so he took himself off to a Catholic church because you had to be a Catholic to go to the Saturday night Catholic dances. That lasted until the novelty wore off, and also ended his attept at becoming religious.

Our parents didn't give a bugger, and probably forgot that they ever sent us off to the local Sunday School anyhow.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 19th, 2018, 6:09 pm 

Dennett is serious about creating an educational system devoid of indoctrination. He is a product of his time reflecting the values of the anti Vietnam war generation. It is one of the failings of academics to be overly idealistic. As they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I'm inclined to be, as perhaps Frederick Nietzsche was, worried about what replaces the vacuum left by Christianity's demise.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 19th, 2018, 7:49 pm 

Teaching children about other religions doesn't 'dilute' their culture or religion. Dilution means putting extraneous material into something. For example, pouring water into a bucket of wine. Setting a bucket of water next to a bucket of wine doesn't dilute, corrupt or adulterate either liquid. It simply allows the recipient to remain sober, should he choose to drink from the second container.

Christianity hasn't died or gone anywhere; it's merely become corrupt and lost its absolute stranglehold on law-making -- and is trying to get it back, partly by keeping people ignorant of alternatives. Inducting youngsters into a church when they have no other choice violates their right to informed consent.
There remains, too, the question of how effective a citizen can be, if he or she is raised in an isolated enclave and not allowed to learn about the cultural make of the entire country.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 19th, 2018, 8:11 pm 

Serpent » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:49 pm wrote:Teaching children about other religions doesn't 'dilute' their culture or religion. Dilution means putting extraneous material into something. For example, pouring water into a bucket of wine. Setting a bucket of water next to a bucket of wine doesn't dilute, corrupt or adulterate either liquid. It simply allows the recipient to remain sober, should he choose to drink from the second container.

Christianity hasn't died or gone anywhere; it's merely become corrupt and lost its absolute stranglehold on law-making -- and is trying to get it back, partly by keeping people ignorant of alternatives. Inducting youngsters into a church when they have no other choice violates their right to informed consent.
There remains, too, the question of how effective a citizen can be, if he or she is raised in an isolated enclave and not allowed to learn about the cultural make of the entire country.


You can read Bill 89 for yourself, the emphasize on natives however in practice means they can live in as much ideological isolation as they desire. It is sufficiently complex legislation that my characterization is necessarily an oversimplification.

I may give my own feelings at some point but first it is useful to make some general observations.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 19th, 2018, 10:15 pm 

Braininvat » January 19th, 2018, 4:21 pm wrote:Maybe he just wants kids to learn a little tolerance. Religious tolerance seems to be in short supply in many areas, with lethal results.

That would be a worthy goal. Do you really think that's Dennett's goal?
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 19th, 2018, 11:06 pm 

wolfhnd » January 19th, 2018, 7:11 pm wrote:You can read Bill 89 for yourself, the emphasize on natives however in practice means they can live in as much ideological isolation as they desire. It is sufficiently complex legislation that my characterization is necessarily an oversimplification.

You know these are separate nations, right?
But, of course, they're still not living in anything like isolation, as long as the kids go to public school.
If they're deliberately being kept ignorant of science, math, history and geography, they're being deprived of a chance at higher education, as well as other life choices.
I don't believe in interfering with religious practice, so long as it doesn't harm the child -
but neither do I believe that religion has any place in the school.

No parents ought to own their children to the extent of rendering them non-competitive - less capable than their peers in the mainstream - any more than they should be allow to harm them physically or cripple them emotionally.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 20th, 2018, 1:55 am 

David Horowitz would argue that his parents communist indoctrination was as harmful as any religious indoctrination. We should ask Dennett why he decided religion was the greater danger. I sent him an email, if I get a response I will post it.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 20th, 2018, 11:13 am 

Having been exposed, when quite young, to the communist doctrine outside the home, while my parents and their friends opposed it behind closed doors, and then being transplanted to a relatively benign capitalism, across the border from an aggressive one in the midst of its [then] most recent civil rights movement, I was given a more balanced ideological education than most people get. I do not believe I was harmed by that diversity. I still see the merits of each world view, as well its flaws. What distinguishes political doctrines from religious ones is that political issues can be discussed rationally (if people wish to) and mutually acceptable terms can be achieved. They all extol some civic virtue and imbue mankind with dignity; they all strive for the betterment of society.

Religions, OTH, all discourage rational thought in the acceptance of their tenets, reject compromise, demand blind adherence and humility and devalue people. For me, the harm lies mainly in that last factor: the punitive righteousness of the chosen. For some atheists, the main harm is in denying reason as a means of truth-seeking. For some, it's in the exclusions and suspicion toward outsiders. For some, it's the church hierarchy, or the obedience, or the particular rituals, or the waste or resources.

Everybody argues what they believe. Dennett wrote fairly lucid books about what he believes and why.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 20th, 2018, 12:55 pm 

Asparagus » January 19th, 2018, 7:15 pm wrote:
Braininvat » January 19th, 2018, 4:21 pm wrote:Maybe he just wants kids to learn a little tolerance. Religious tolerance seems to be in short supply in many areas, with lethal results.

That would be a worthy goal. Do you really think that's Dennett's goal?


DK. The OP has no link to Dennett's own words on the matter.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 20th, 2018, 3:59 pm 

Braininvat » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:55 pm wrote:
Asparagus » January 19th, 2018, 7:15 pm wrote:
Braininvat » January 19th, 2018, 4:21 pm wrote:Maybe he just wants kids to learn a little tolerance. Religious tolerance seems to be in short supply in many areas, with lethal results.

That would be a worthy goal. Do you really think that's Dennett's goal?


DK. The OP has no link to Dennett's own words on the matter.


https://www.csicop.org/si/show/dennett_ ... r_religion
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 20th, 2018, 4:43 pm 

It is a question of priorities.

Outside of Islamic countries the mingling of religion and government is more or less something of the past. Even in the case of Islamic countries I'm not convinced that culture isn't sufficient to produce the human rights abuses and conflicts we see in the absence of religion. Islam simply makes it more virulent. The mythological underpinnings of a society are important to understand that culture but it isn't clear that once they have formulated the character of a culture that removing the formal religious structure is a solution. That is why I question if making religion the primary target of reform is practical. In the case of Islam terrorism has in some people's minds made it enemy number one but I question the existential threat it poses to Western Civilization. Religious bigotry is a problem but certainly not the priority.

I have laid out my priorities before but I think it is important to this discussion because I'm disappointed that Dennett seems so obsessed with religion.

You can gather certain concerns into groups because all aspects of culture are interrelated so it is impossible to create a mutually exclusive list. Everything on a list will be related somehow but the somewhat arbitrary priority effects the solutions.

1. Food and water security.

2. Overpopulation and climate (not necessarily global warming)

3. Energy security

4. Economic stability tied with nuclear proliferation and war in general

5. Neo Marxism and post modernism and their assault on rationality.

6. Reactionary political movements.

7. Authoritarian government and the erosion of free speech.

8. Religious fundamentalism

9. The manipulations of mass media and tech companies.

10. Environmental degradation especially in our agricultural land

11. Epidemics

12. Failing infra structure and poor planning.

13. AI and related social instability

14. Poverty and racial relations

15. Nietzsche's concerns about a lack of cultural cohesion.

16. Natural disasters and lack of preparation

I could go on but the point is that religion is no where near the top of the list and the dismissal education in history that elementary and secondary schools provide complicates any attempt to provide religious education.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 20th, 2018, 8:04 pm 

wolfhnd » January 20th, 2018, 3:43 pm wrote:It is a question of priorities.

What is? Can two social reforms not take place simultaneously, and even reinforce each other? The bigger question is: What social entity or agency is capable of making the necessary changes?

Outside of Islamic countries the mingling of religion and government is more or less something of the past.

But the religious institutions are not very happy with this; each desires more power than it has. All the more reason not to divide the citizens of a heterogeneous (imported, supposedly secular) culture into hostile camps.
I'm disappointed that Dennett seems so obsessed with religion.

He has some concerns that are not altogether trivial, and may be relevant.
1. Food and water security.

The Raputurites don't care. This will only affects us left-behinds, and we deserve to suffer.
2. Overpopulation and climate (not necessarily global warming)

Religions of all kinds are hugely responsible for opposing population control of all kinds.
3. Energy security
4. Economic stability tied with nuclear proliferation and war in general

Climate change deniers and ecology destroyers tend to be overwhelmingly right wing. Their idea of energy security is to start unwinnable wars, which, in turn, further destabilize the political and economic relations that threaten energy security. They're not real big on supporting the theoretical sciences and practical technologies that produce better energy-generation, either. Guess whose political support they count on to get into power, and whom they then owe favours in return.
5. Neo Marxism and post modernism and their assault on rationality.

I'll match any examples of Marxist assaults on any kind of rationality with examples of religious attacks on rationality. Add them as allies to neo-nazism. Then count the number of Americans who identify as fundamentalist Christian and white nationalist and compare that number to those who identify as marxist or communist. That priority may slip down the list a couple of notches.
6. Reactionary political movements.
7. Authoritarian government and the erosion of free speech.
8. Religious fundamentalism

Not sure I see how these three concerns can be considered separately from one another world-wide. How they line in the US is not entirely clear, but traceable to some common factors.
9. The manipulations of mass media and tech companies.

By whom? A free press is the enemy of the people. Obviously.
10. Environmental degradation especially in our agricultural land
11. Epidemics
12. Failing infra structure and poor planning.
13. AI and related social instability
14. Poverty and racial relations

These are not primary religious issues and probably of little interest to religious factions. They are of considerable interest to some progressive factions, however, and no religious organization would ever support them.
15. Nietzsche's concerns about a lack of cultural cohesion.

I don't consider him relevant to our times or countries. I hear this kind of rhetoric from the European right-wing factions, and find their solutions unacceptable.
In the Americas, this is no issue at all. Indigenous cultures were largely destroyed in the first century of European incursjon. There has been no cultural cohesion in the new world since 1600. Some attempts have been made by the emerging post-colonial nations to build up cohesive social structures, but most of their efforts were undermined by divisive religious, ideological and economic interests, both internal and external.
16. Natural disasters and lack of preparation

Defunding and beheading FEMA and the EPA are an effective step... over the cliff.

I could go on but the point is that religion is no where near the top of the list and the dismissal education in history that elementary and secondary schools provide complicates any attempt to provide religious education.

None of those concerns are going to be addressed by kids who grow up educated in isolated church basements, to protect them from the sinful affects of knowledge.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 20th, 2018, 8:53 pm 

Braininvat » January 20th, 2018, 12:55 pm wrote:
Asparagus » January 19th, 2018, 7:15 pm wrote:
Braininvat » January 19th, 2018, 4:21 pm wrote:Maybe he just wants kids to learn a little tolerance. Religious tolerance seems to be in short supply in many areas, with lethal results.

That would be a worthy goal. Do you really think that's Dennett's goal?


DK. The OP has no link to Dennett's own words on the matter.

Sorry. I sort of expected that you'd direct to a thread where it had already been discussed. I see wolfhnd put up a link. There's also a TED talk where he mentions it: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_s_response_to_rick_warren

I agree with wolfhnd.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby BadgerJelly on January 21st, 2018, 12:33 am 

Asparagus -

The spin you've put on his suggestion is ideological. You infer his intentions without really backing up your claim. If he had said we shouldn't teach children about any religions your position would no doubt be just the same - given that he said the opposite I find it startling you say what you've said.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby doogles on January 21st, 2018, 6:09 am 

Thank you, Asparagus for posting that video link – “There's also a TED talk where he mentions it: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_s ... ick_warren .”

I’m not sure whether this video represents what Asparagus had in mind in the OP, but in its own way, this video leaves no doubt that a Daniel Dennet advocates teaching the historical facts about all religions as part of the school curriculum, the hope being that children will grow-up at least with a knowledge of other religions and finish up a little less narrow-minded. It sounds good in principle, and at that level, I go along with it.

When you think about it, nobody could logically argue against such a principle without indicating that they they are narrow-minded and bigoted.

One principle that was ingrained in all of the children in our area from an early age was that nobody ever spoke about politics or religion at gatherings of family or friends, because it would always lead to arguments. I tried it a few times out curiosity, and I can safely say that in my experience it always led to crossed reactions if it happened between people who were not like-minded.

It appears to me that the belief systems acquired by each of us within our own family or close cultural experiences become firmly ingrained integral parts of our self-images, and that if anybody challenges these belief systems, we react as if they have insulted us.

While such ingrained belief systems exist therefore, there will always be strong resistance to taking ‘Special Religious Education’ out of curricula.

Nevertheless, Daniel Dennet would be pleased to hear that some changes have been made in Australia.

In Victoria, a drastic change has been made - https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... curriculum - "Religious instruction will be scrapped from the curriculum of Victorian schools from next year (It’s been in action since 2015) and replaced with education about building respectful relationships, the government announced on Friday.
The new relationships education program will be taught by qualified teachers and aims to help children understand global cultures and traditions, recognise and prevent family violence, and appreciate and understand diversity.
Special religious instruction, currently taught during school hours by volunteers, will be moved out of regular class times, freeing 30 minutes a week for the new program.”


In Western Australia, there has been a legal edict since 1999 - http://det.wa.edu.au/curriculumsupport/ ... ms/portal/ - “The teaching of religious education is governed by the School Education Act 1999 (The Act), sections 66-71, which states that the curriculum and teaching in Western Australian public schools is not to promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect.”

"General religious education (GRE) can be included in the school curriculum as part of teaching and learning activities. The focus is on the study of major forms of religious thought and expression that are characteristic of Australian and other societies in the world.”

There is also an action group in Australia who call themselves Fairness In Religion in Schools (FIRIS) – see http://religionsinschool.com/the-facts/ .These people point out that
• Special Religious Instruction DOES NOT teach children about different religions
• Special Religious Instruction IS NOT needed to teach children values
• Special Religious Instruction IS NOT taught by teachers
• Special Religious Instruction IS NOT ‘education’
• Special Religious Instruction DIVIDES our children
• Special Religious Instruction IS NOT compulsory
• 96% of Special Religious Instruction is Christian Instruction delivered by ACCESS Ministries
• ACCESS Ministries’ provision of Special Religious Instruction has been controversial
• Not all religious leaders support Special Religious Instruction
• While current Government policy says that schools MUST make curriculum time available to Special Religious Instruction volunteers, since 2013 school can decide not to
• The Australian Education Union does not support Special Religious Instruction during school hours
• Parents Victoria does not support Special Religious Instruction during school hours
• Education in Government schools must not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect
• There are many parents across Australia actively campaigning against Special Religious Instruction during school hours
• You CAN take a stand against Special Religious Instruction being taught during school hours
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 21st, 2018, 10:22 am 

wolfhnd » January 20th, 2018, 9:43 pm wrote:It is a question of priorities.

With respect, I think it is not. If you said to me "we should be concerned about the prevalence of smoking among children" and I said "we should be more concerned about North Korea" you would think I were simply changing the subject, wouldn't you? It would be the equivalent of pointing and running away.

I don't know about US educational culture but in my home country we are introduced to the concepts of capitalism and socialism as though they were in antagonism to each other (which itself is debatable, but it has the benefit of what you call "dilution"). Anglican Christianity, on the other hand, was taught in my first two schools as though it were arithmetic.

In my third school they managed to make time for "religious education", which taught us a little about Buddhism and Islam, as well as introducing us to religiously-fuelled sociopolitical debates such as those over abortion and the death penalty, while also making time for history class, in which they taught us a little about the geopolitical antagonism between Communism, fascism and democracy in the 20th century. Should they have annexed RE and taught us twice as much history? It feels to me that I see each matter better by the light of the other.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 21st, 2018, 10:39 am 

doogles » January 21st, 2018, 11:09 am wrote:When you think about it, nobody could logically argue against such a principle without indicating that they they are narrow-minded and bigoted.

Asparagus's concern in the OP was the Dennett degrades the concept of "rights" by invoking them for such a thing. Dennett has previously argued against consequentialism on the grounds that we don't truly know what's going to happen (I wonder if he would make the same argument against, say, meteorology) so I suppose he's bound to couching his ethical questions in deontological language.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 21st, 2018, 10:54 am 

If I may respond to Nietzsche's anxiety about what will replace the "master and slave morality": it's true that those brought up with religion, if they subsequently abandon it, tend to replace it with something equally dogmatic. I know several such people who have turned to Marxism (and while I like Marx and am Marxian, his closer followers tend to be rather less sophisticated: for example they do not regard Castro the same way Marx regarded Bolivar, and will not concede that pre-industrial societies benefit from a capitalist phase. They seem to have no hope that the state will "wither away", and no admiration for the guarantees of liberty in the US constitution). I would say this is all the more reason to expose children to conflicting ideas about divinity - the sooner we can dispose of rigid metaphysical thinking, and adjust ourselves to real honest debate, the better we can intelligently address problems. And it seems to me that many people have emerged in the post-theocratic West with ethical codes far too sensible to feature anything like "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live".

In short: my Breitbart-reading friends charge that atheists "believe in nothing". Well this is not and need not be true, but those who believe in the talking burning bush certainly convict themselves of a capacity to believe anything.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 21st, 2018, 12:00 pm 

I would say this is all the more reason to expose children to conflicting ideas about divinity - the sooner we can dispose of rigid metaphysical thinking, and adjust ourselves to real honest debate, the better we can intelligently address problems.


Was going to post something along this line but you've said it well enough. Teach critical thinking skills and the realization that ethics is hard, not easy waving of the god wand, will follow. As for children having rights that exist independently of their parents, well, isn't that what the Pro-Life movement is asserting. Seems hypocritical if they only defend such rights inside the uterus.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 21st, 2018, 12:47 pm 

Braininvat » January 21st, 2018, 11:00 am wrote:... As for children having rights that exist independently of their parents, well, isn't that what the Pro-Life movement is asserting. Seems hypocritical if they only defend such rights inside the uterus.

This hypocrisy is hardly unique in the annals of religious thought. Command that all babies and potential babies, and suffering old people be kept alive ... by somebody else.

As for Dennett and his opinion -- Well, it's an opinion, which he's more than capable of defending with reasoned argument. It's not as if had the power of executive edict.
And if it comes to the priorities of American education - you'd better look to preserving public schools before the whole system is destroyed.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 21st, 2018, 8:55 pm 

doogles wrote:
While such ingrained belief systems exist therefore, there will always be strong resistance to taking ‘Special Religious Education’ out of curricula.


Interesting post. In fact, all your posts are interesting. 30% of all Australian schools are religious schools. In the US it's 10% of all schools, which are mostly private Catholic schools. In the US, public schools can't promote any religious view for constitutional reasons.

What's worrying Dennett is religious education that's taking place in people's homes. That's also protected by the 1st Amendment. His wants to provide children with more information about religion than they currently receive.

Being a culture/history/religion buff, I have no objection. But I don't see Dennett talking about a strategy for accomplishing that. Instead he goes on and on about the blow-back he receives for suggesting it. He insists that it's tied to the requirements of democracy, but the principle there is that the state should require children to learn to read so that they can educate themselves prior to voting.

My conclusion is that he's just having fun. The answer to his question: 'Do parents have a right to limit their children's exposure to religious beliefs?' is yes. They do have that right up until the basic curriculum is changed. Is it possible to change it? Sure. It would require more than a whingey TED talk, though.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 21st, 2018, 9:04 pm 

Asparagus » January 21st, 2018, 7:55 pm wrote:My conclusion is that he's just having fun. The answer to his question: 'Do parents have a right to limit their children's exposure to religious beliefs?' is yes. They do have that right up until the basic curriculum is changed. Is it possible to change it? Sure. It would require more than a whingey TED talk, though.

It requires an elected board of education to make a decision. They won't do that, anywhere, until someone convinces them that 1. a well-informed voter base makes a strong democracy and 2. a broad, more inclusive curriculum will produce better-informed citizens.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby BadgerJelly on January 22nd, 2018, 3:06 am 

Asparagus -

What are the children's rights? Do parents rights trump children's rights? remember we live in a world where it can be illegal for some people to own animals yet anyone can have a child.

It is a tricky issue to say the least. I think freedom of education would be the perfect solution, but it is not practically applicable in todays disjointed society, and perhaps the gap between social groups will make such an idea an unachievable one.

Simply teaching children and young adults to be skeptical and question their own ideas and thoughts would be a step in the right direction. The problem is then knowing how best to teach such things that have the best over all effect.

We just play by ear and hope our ideas work out for the best as per usual.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 22nd, 2018, 11:32 am 

Serpent » January 21st, 2018, 9:04 pm wrote:
Asparagus » January 21st, 2018, 7:55 pm wrote:My conclusion is that he's just having fun. The answer to his question: 'Do parents have a right to limit their children's exposure to religious beliefs?' is yes. They do have that right up until the basic curriculum is changed. Is it possible to change it? Sure. It would require more than a whingey TED talk, though.

It requires an elected board of education to make a decision. They won't do that, anywhere, until someone convinces them that 1. a well-informed voter base makes a strong democracy and 2. a broad, more inclusive curriculum will produce better-informed citizens.


If a group of mathematicians can convince americans that set theory should be taught simultaneously with arithmetic, I'd think some voice of wisdom could introduce more changes.

Dennett doesn't propose to be that voice of wisdom, though. Anyway, as I said, the Jeffersonian principle is that voters should be able to read so they can inform themselves. It was never: drop the entire 100-200 section of the library on five year olds so they'll be informed voters. That is indeed laughable.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 22nd, 2018, 12:42 pm 

It was never: drop the entire 100-200 section of the library on five year olds so they'll be informed voters. That is indeed laughable.


Strawman. Who seriously suggested that option?

More like: let children be aware that "there is more than one way up the mountain," i.e. there is more than one system for connecting with a deity and/or spiritual discipline, and perhaps show some commonalities between all of them. It's really just about getting beyond the toxic and xenophobic memes that lurk in some religious sects - memes that will bring mass destruction and death. They should do the same thing for ideology, too. It would really just be an elaboration and maturation of the Jeffersonian principle you mention - being informed is being aware of the plurality of perspectives and traditions all around you in the larger world...and realizing that, at heart, we all want much the same things out of life.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 22nd, 2018, 1:24 pm 

Braininvat » January 22nd, 2018, 12:42 pm wrote:
It was never: drop the entire 100-200 section of the library on five year olds so they'll be informed voters. That is indeed laughable.


Strawman. Who seriously suggested that option?

By arguing that we should expose children to facts about religion in order to make them informed voters, he invites the question: what parts of the 100-200 section of the library should we leave out?

Mrs. Marble: "No Scott, it's not time for volleyball. Today we're talking about world views. Freddy, please articulate the problem of induction for the class."

Freddy: "Uh.. I don't know."

Mrs Marble: "That's exactly right Freddy. You don't know. Except somehow you do know. How does that work Carol-Ann?"

Carol-Ann: <<starts to cry>>

Mrs. Marble: Save your tears for this afternoon, Carol-Ann. We're covering Fear and Trembling.


Braininvat wrote:
More like: let children be aware that "there is more than one way up the mountain," i.e. there is more than one system for connecting with a deity and/or spiritual discipline, and perhaps show some commonalities between all of them.

Or as the Mongol Khan said: "Just as the hand has many fingers, God gives us many paths." I'm pretty sure it's not Dennett's intention to make sure small children are tuned in to that perennial profoundness, but I admire you for assuming that the meat of the issue is in that vicinity. I'd have to say it's over my dead body that american public schools will mention the Khan's words. I suffer from a lack of trust that an unbiased attitude would be preserved. Kids can learn about Shinto when they study Japan. Otherwise, no.


Braininvat wrote:It's really just about getting beyond the toxic and xenophobic memes that lurk in some religious sects - memes that will bring mass destruction and death. They should do the same thing for ideology, too. It would really just be an elaboration and maturation of the Jeffersonian principle you mention - being informed is being aware of the plurality of perspectives and traditions all around you in the larger world...and realizing that, at heart, we all want much the same things out of life.

Again, damn... you have a good heart.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 22nd, 2018, 1:46 pm 

Asparagus: It was never: drop the entire 100-200 section of the library on five year olds so they'll be informed voters. That is indeed laughable.

Brain: Strawman. Who seriously suggested that option?

Asparagus: By arguing that we should expose children to facts about religion in order to make them informed voters, he invites the question: what parts of the 100-200 section of the library should we leave out?

The answer is: still a strawman. We don't dump the rest of the Dewy decimal system on 5-year-olds, either. Yet we do eventually try to impart some history, geography (granted, not so much in the US), literature, math and science before they graduate high school.
We do not require kindergarten students to memorize Shakespearean monologues or the dates of Napoleonic battles, just as we do not teach quantum mechanics in kindergarten, but do show children that you can stack blocks or move water uphill in containers. We devise a gradual and rational curriculum of science all the way through elementary and secondary school.
Why should the curriculum that includes classical mythology exclude comparative modern religion?

I'd have to say it's over my dead body that american public schools will mention the Khan's words. I suffer from a lack of trust that an unbiased attitude would be preserved. Kids can learn about Shinto when they study Japan. Otherwise, no.

Why? Will you also nail shut the library doors? Burn books? Keep your child chained to his bed, lest he meet a student from a different culture in the playground?
Did you really think there was no bias in American schools up till now?
Have you looked at the variation in curricula (and testing standard) from state to state?
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