Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Christian Scientist Student

The New York Times has a series of article on the question, "With Children, When does Religion go too Far?" here.  There are many interesting insights.  I share a teaching experience I had:

As I high school English teacher, I had many students from very religious homes.  Generally, it seemed to me that the more rigid and authoritarian the teachings, the more likely it was that kids, by high school, would be trying to break free.

I remember a girl I had from a strict Christian Science family.  Before she entered my class, I received from Guidance a list of topics I was not to talk about in front of her.  She walked in the first day, sat down, pulled a large bottle of Advil out of her purse, and plopped it on her desk.

I looked at her questioningly and she glared back and said defiantly, “I get headaches.”  No students were really permitted to carry around their own medications, but there was no way I was getting in the way of this one.  The bottle sat there for the entire semester.

And then one day we were talking about AIDS.  One student explained that the virus had begun in Africa with monkeys.  The girl immediately said, “See, it’s a punishment for having sex with monkeys!”

I held my breath to see if civility would reign.  It did.  Another student gently explained how mutations work.  At the end of the semester, in her course evaluation, she wrote that the class discussions were the best part of the course.

Education is everything.

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