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Good Teaching or Mockery?

This case should turn out to be interesting. As it is, it cries out for context. (See also this on MSNBC).

A Christian high school student is complaining that his AP history teacher is mocking his faith. His mother became concerned when the teacher said that American was not founded on Christian values. Since I’d agree with the teacher on that one, I wonder a bit about the rest. Perhaps some of these statements were made simply to provoke discussion, and if that was the case, I would have no problem. If only Christianity was challenged, that would be another matter. If one religion was mocked throughout the class, that would also be a problem. I don’t like it when Christian teachers do this to atheists or other non-Christians, and I don’t like it when it is done to Christians.

So my initial reaction is tentatively against the teacher. But we do need to hear the context of all this. I’m assuming the principal and school board will listen to the tapes and determine just what the teacher was doing. While the student should not be mocked, challenging discussion is good. I recall once in a Bible class challenging a student about his faith and doing so effectively enough that he eventually yelled, “You won’t believe no matter what I say!” So I pointed out that I was his Bible teacher and already did believe. He thanked me afterward for the challenge.

I will be keeping my eye on this case for sure.

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  1. Forgive me for going into English-teacher mode, but the quotes given (presumably from the student’s recording of the teacher’s lectures) are not statements, they are phrases. I would definitely want to hear more about what the teacher said. Heck, the third one could come from “It’s wrong to say to a woman, ‘Hey, you should stay pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen and have babies until your body collapses,’ but historically, some people not only said that, but claimed that God says it too.”

    If the student and/or parents were unhappy with the instruction, what measures were taken before the lawsuit was filed?

    If the October 19 lecture was typical, why is it the only one being used in the lawsuit?

    I’m not saying the teacher ISN’T a bigoted moron; but like you, I have a sneaking suspicion we’re hearing a carefully tailored version of the story.

    And – DANG. Did you happen to look at some of the comments? Makes me glad I know I can get another job if I piss off some of the fundies around here and get myself fired… I’m a teacher because I CHOOSE to be, not because it’s my only option. Yikes!

  2. For some of those folks the accusation of being anti-Christian is all that’s necessary. Evidence be damned.

    If the guy is a bigot and is pretty stupid, then he should go. He would have to be both to say some of the things he said, if they were taken in context and to allow them to be recorded. That he allowed the recorded (the student said the recorded was in sight) suggests to me that there may be missing context. If we listened to the tape we may get a different story.

    The court will get to do that, and will also get to ask about other days.

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