A letter to my concerned friend and pastor at church:

Sent in by Jeff

Dear friend, thanks so much for your note of concern regarding my absence from the church community of late. I’m sorry I’m just replying to it! Grab hold, I’m going to share what I think. I share this with you in confidence, as I’m in the wrong community (a small Texas town) for this to be general knowledge.

In all honesty, you and I have shared some of the questions of faith that I’ve encountered over the last couple of years, and I have appreciated having an “ear” for that limited dialogue. I think it would be fair to you and Pastor to let you know that my “faith journey” has changed fairly significantly and dramatically since my return to Texas, and perhaps had the seeds of change much earlier, prior to our move from Utah.

I find at present that it is very difficult for me to be honest with myself (and therefore others) during our worship, and I somehow feel that I’m not entirely being genuine as I pray the prayers and recite the creeds, because in fact I no longer own many of those beliefs. I’m afraid that I’m not able to see this earth in the often-described black-and-white dichotomy of true and correct spiritual belief versus the harmfulness of “the world.” I’ve resolved that I am, in fact, a natural product of this world and am not separate from it. I don’t claim natural or “spiritual” advantage. I can’t subscribe any more to the necessities to somehow separate myself from those who might “believe” differently, or who have lived in another culture different and non-congruent to the gospel that I’m advocated to spread. I’m unwilling to consider that I might have just serendipitously stumbled upon revealed “truth” by way of being lucky enough to live where I live, or to be in a culture where it’s promoted and culturally normalized. I’m afraid that I can’t ignore those questions that arise outside of the fold.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me at this point comes at the heels of the last six political years, and seeing the results of campaigns that have attempted to clarify which are the “chosen” or “moral” among our population at large. It’s been disheartening to me to see our country polarized and divided over issues of “belief.” For all the good that’s been done in religion’s name, I’m saddened by the harm as well. I can only hope for my son, as he grows into an adult, an ability to contemplate how wonderful and beautiful and mysterious is our natural world, and about the possibility that he can grow up thinking and considering, loving deeply and joyously, without needing to hear (week after week) about our spoiled and sinful nature, and about how God would otherwise be extremely disappointed with creation had it not been for the ultimate sacrificial offering, and about how grateful we ought to be for it. I’ve lived long enough to observe that human nature doesn’t appear to be changed all that much by professed belief and that humans are capable of amazing things both wonderful and evil, the world over.

I do miss the church community of friendly and wonderful people, who are on a similar quest for truth. Departing from this community of belief has been the somewhat saddest and most difficult part of any prior journey for me, but also the most satisfying, and the journey most worthy of travel. I’ll always have a deep love for the “people of God,” and have all respect, admiration and awe for the lessons Jesus taught about compassion, the call for justice, and the leveling of unjust power systems that oppress and hurt people. It’s a truly worthy calling and I believe a lot of people within and without the church have the desire and ability to change the world for the better.

I will remain a “friend” of the church, although I’m in the process of seeking my community, which I may never entirely find. We might attend as a family occasionally, as my wife and son are not in the same place with me. For now my boy has chosen to continue to be involved with confirmation classes, and I don’t yet know what my wife will ultimately decide or if she will continue along the same journey. I’m afraid that for the most part it was I who got the troops rolling on the Sunday worship, so (naturally?) our family won’t be as permanent a fixture in the pews. I encourage them both to walk along their own spiritual paths and seek goodness and truth, and I can never bring myself to antagonize people of faith for the sake of pride or “winning the argument.” Too many of my life-heroes are people of faith—you two included!

I’d welcome any questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Jeff



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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff: I admire the way you expressed yourself in your letter.
Although I gave up on the church
many years ago, a lot of the reasons you gave were my reasons,
too.

Like you, I live in a small Texas
town (in the Panhandle) and there's
practically a church on every corner. When you move to this area, the first thing they ask is
where you came from, followed by
what church do you go to. So, I've
kept very quiet about my feelings
concerning Christianity.

To show how divorced from reality
many Christians are, I once heard
a woman talking about one of the
radio stations in this area that
plays country music. She said, "
And that station manager calls himself a Christian! Why, most of the songs they play are about
drinking!"

Gee, a country song that involved
drinking! Next thing you know, they'll be country songs about
cheatin' and goin' to jail too!

Oh well.

boomSLANG said...

Re: Apologist spam.

What a celebration of poppycock.

Okay, consider this:

The notion that "the stork" brings babies to their respective mothers is a superstitious fable that was made available to children when they begin to 'hypothesize' on their own where babies come from. Of course, said hypothesis is neither testable, nor falsifible, as I'm sure 100 % of scientists would agree on. Thus, I would think that no reasonable human being would disagree that such untestable/unfalsifiable hypothesis' should NOT be taught as "fact". But on the other hand, what right do I/we have to tell every child in America that they cannot *think* of said hypothesis as "truth"??? None; no right...despite that we have a more plausible theory as to where babies come from.

That said, please, anyone...find me a reference from any adult American Atheist, Deist, Pantheist, or Agnostic throughout history who has ever said that we don't have, or shouldn't have, the freedom to *think* what we want.

Again, the Theist, specifically the Christian, always has to manipulate, exaggerate, and embroider the facts to make their point. 'Funny how that works.

Jamie said...

Jeff, I could have written that letter...(well, not as eloquently...I could have written a clunkier letter that was trying to say essentially the same thing).

Before I lost my faith I was attending the best church I had ever attended. I always said I could feel the spirit of love as soon as I walked through the door. These people knew each other well and truly cared for each other. It was wonderful. And when my family started going there, it wasn't long before we found ourselves an integral part of the community (although I always wondered if and how that would change once they found out I am gay)

Like you, I started to feel dishonest sitting in the pews, and I made the difficult decision to stop going because of it. My wife and kids still go, and my wife has become even more 'fundamentalist' than she was before I quit.

I certainly didn't stop going because of the people. Originally, I stopped going because of the weekly sessions of telling my how awful and unworthy I am and telling me how I should feel about all of that (answer: grateful that Jesus went through all that torment for me).

I started to read more and more about Christianity. I decided I needed to read from the other side, since I had previously sought my answers within the framework of Christian apologetics. As many have found, it did not take long for the house of cards to fall.

So now I can't go back because it isn't true. I still hang out a bit with friends from there. But when conversation turns to bible-study, I stay pretty silent. Let them lose their own faith, if they so choose, I'll just stay out of it for now.

Now I just find myself in a strange spot. I'm an agnostic who leans toward atheism, yet I still find myself praying. As I do it, I realize that I'm likely just praying to my own head. But that's okay. If I feel like praying, I'll pray.

Thanks for posting your letter here.

Truly,
Jamie.

Anonymous said...

Nazis and the gays:
http://members.aol.com/mpwright9/gaynazi.html

Bloviator said...

Jeff,

A beautiful and eloquent summation of your reasoning. I only wish I could distill my thoughts as well or write so clearly. I would have said you had a "God-given talent", but I don't do that much anymore. ;} The very best to you in your journey out of faith.

Jamie said:
Before I lost my faith I was attending the best church I had ever attended. I always said I could feel the spirit of love as soon as I walked through the door. These people knew each other well and truly cared for each other. It was wonderful. And when my family started going there, it wasn't long before we found ourselves an integral part of the community...

My god (jokes), I could have written that myself! There I was, thinking I had finally found a resting place in the Big Guy, and who would have guessed a year later I would be where I am. To this day, I still like most of the folks I met at church, and like you, my wife seems to be getting deeper into the whole thing as I drift farther away (probably not a coincidence). So much of what you have said resonates with me.

In regards to praying, though I no longer do, I can appreciate it from a meditative place, and indeed at one point I thought of prayer more as a vehicle for self-awareness than for any laundry list of things I wanted. Even as an xtian, I couldn't reconcile an all-knowing god with the need for prayer -- simple illogic.

Jamie said...

Bloviator said:
In regards to praying, though I no longer do, I can appreciate it from a meditative place, and indeed at one point I thought of prayer more as a vehicle for self-awareness than for any laundry list of things I wanted.

Funny you should mention that. My prayers these days aren't FOR anything, but they can calm and comfort me.

My wife and I have some special challenges, of course. She thought she married a straight evangelical and then she ends up with a gay atheist. I can see why she needs to turn to SOMETHING for comfort.

I do wonder if the meditative side of prayer unlocks the brain somehow...if just asking the question silently in your head provides the answer. A couple of weeks ago I was having a difficult time being in my situation. Things had been tense between my wife and I, probably more over religion than over my orientation. I was by myself on a park bench reading and thinking and it was one of those times where the prayer habit popped up. In my head I said, "How could I possibly please such a God when I can't even please my wife?". Out of nowhere an answer formed in my head. It said, "She isn't God, you don't HAVE to please her".

In the past I would have taken that as an answer directly from God. I can no longer do that. There is no evidence that it is or isn't and I am no longer willing to make the leap. That said, I believe the answer itself to be true. And so I can see, like you say, the meditative value. It can meet a certain need that I have for comfort, and sometimes maybe even for answers. I've also realized that if it's just my own brain providing me with answers I already know but was not concious of, that's okay too.

Truly,
Jamie.

Anonymous said...

Steinamatter wrote:

http://www.expelledthemovie.com/bigscienceacademy_class_officers.php


What utter garbage. Nothing but a YEC getting his persecution fix. Get over yourself.

Jeff, I admire your honesty and courage in standing up to your pastor. It mustn't have been an easy thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Speer wrote:
Nazis and the gays:
http://members.aol.com/mpwright9/gaynazi.html

From that site..
"While not denying that many homosexuals were persecuted by the Hitler government after he gained state power in 1933, Lively emphasizes to his readers that "the Nazi party itself had many homosexuals within its own ranks, even among its highest leadership." His central thesis is that Nazism was rooted in homosexuality."

Try substituting the word 'Christianity' in place of 'Nazi party' in that web page. It's uncanny! In that context it starts to make perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jeff! Thanks for posting this. I feel like I could have written it to my former pastor. I guess the difference for me is that my desire to not challenge the church is changing. I really am starting to see the backwards thinking of the church when it comes to civil rights. As an atheist in Texas, I do often feel offended and persecuted in my mind. In the past, I've been like you. The nature of my community keeps me from going public with my atheism. This is especially true because I am a public school teacher. It really could cause problems for me! Anyway, Christians act as though they are persecuted, and their civil rights are violated, but that is nonsense. Everyone here believes and follows some Jesus-based religion. They recently changed the Texas pledge by adding "one state under god" to it. This offends me now. I didn't even know about it until the first day of school when we pledged the flags. We have "In god we trust on our currency" and the Ten Commandments are in all of our government buildings. I personally don't think it is right. This nation was not founded on Christianity, it was founded on freedom of religion. "Under god" wasn't even added to the national pleedge of allegiance until years after it was originally written. To be honest, it is atheists that are persecuted. I really fear the day when Christianity returns to it's violent past of killing all that oppose it. I'm a dead man then!

Anonymous said...

Interesting the number of Texans on this thread :-)

Texas by no means has a shortage of religious buildings, try living down the street from Randy Travis' & Tommy Lee Jones' church, and having to hear about how great the church services are from co-workers who attend that particular church. Makes for interesting work days at the least.

Jeff, thanks for your post, it was honest and sincere. I can't say that I attend church or find myself attracted to religious services. You mentioned the quest for truth, and how that seems to be the carrot for many religious. I think truth can not be found in religious circles, religion gains its power by promising the existence of a Platonic carrot, while beating the follower with a physical stick; guilt, shame, moral ineptitude, etc.

Religion isn't founded on knowledge, knowledge of course refers to the ability to assign words to evidence, even if knowledge varies by degree of permanence.

Religion as an individual sport at times is a social affair; yet, when large numbers of socialized individuals follow a leader, it is as well a political movement. I know of no religious organization that promotes the search for Truth. If it is the quest of an individual to find Truth while attending religious services, they are sadly misinformed of the menu.

I fell prey to the suggestion that I was truly searching for Truth while attending religious services for many years, yet, I eventually realized that there was no where to search, and I was being authoritatively given the/ir Truth.

When the religious are asked for a moral Absolute; their eyes cross most times. We each base on decisions in life on that one variable, by which all else builds from, but religions don't base theirs on a single variable, they attempt to build it on a single "belief" - God, which for the most part is undefined and without evidence. Thus, morality for the most part is arbitrary and individually defined by each Christian.

They could attempt to assert that "life" is the variable by which to measure all else in moral terms, yet, physical "life" is less valuable than the belief in "eternal" life, thus, life can not be that single variable by which to measure morality.

However, the very fact that a Christian would choose to "live", while demoting the value of physical "life", under heavenly "life", is contradictory. Such statements of belief conflict with doctrine and tradition and are irrational on all fronts to include morality.

Life is a moral imperative, without it, morality is a non-issue; morality is exclusively a human affair.

We live a life of relationship, to find Truth, we must find how we relate to all that we know, think and experience. Relationships, give us understanding, meaning, and peace.

Relationships are ill-defined in religious circles, one may suggest a person can have a relationship with a God, but in what "context", as a word or physically or both, or something else... it is never truly defined, it is up to the individual for the most part to wander aimlessly seeking this "relationship", without truly understanding what a relationship is.

The learned ability to make relationships, requires critical thinking skills as a child develops. Are critical thinking skills taught to children within the education process; especially in the no-child-left-behind political movement?

Alaska is the last state left that hasn't accepted federal (bribe) *cough* incentives to implement standardized test taking skills.

The reason I bring this up, is that neither religion nor the federal government have an incentive to produce critical thinkers, and those of society who can make links and "relationships". So, the fall-out; universities are paid federal (bribe) *cough* incentives to accept students who fail basic skills testing, so that politicians can continue to remain relevant in a society of ignorance.

The menu of the higher education industry of today is "not" to create critical thinkers and teach how to make relationships in life, but to teach theory and the controversy between oppositional theorists, movements, paradigms, etc.

In the thousands of hours of education I have endured up to this point, I have yet to have a professor or educator tell me what "is" a fact and why. Why? Because, I suppose as soon as they proffer a truth, someone will write a book on why their statement isn't true, such is the wonderful world of the self-licking academic ice-cream cone.

If nothing can be truly, known, it obviously begs the question; what is education good for then, and moreover, can anyone ever really be confident that they can eventually understand their reality and the relationships they make while living within Existence?

What I wanted from religion and education, I never received; answers to my questions. Instead of getting answers and why I could know relationships; I was taught that I really could never attain a relationship that I could really understand. This type of paradigm is riddled accross the U.S., it's why people find their way to; alcoholism, drugs, divorce, religion, etc.

To Caleb, I see you are a public school educator, what do you think about Dr. Maria Montessori's prescribed method of ecucation as recently researched via developmental psychologists?

I have a book on the shelf titled; "Montessori, The Science Behind The Genius"... within the pages, one understands her to be an empiricist, and an educator who prescribes an evidence-based model for schooling.

In short, her model suggests that teachers should assist the child to become educated, by tapping a child's natural desire to learn, while presenting a direct "relationship" between what is taught and "reality".

There are over 8K Montessori based schools in the U.S. alone, and rising, due to parent involvement in their child's education.

I bring this up; because if a child is confused early in their developmental years, K-6/8, they will not have the ability to understand further relationships, to include those relationships in their social and political life.

The sheer fact that there are religious followers who actually believe they can 'link' an undefined concept (God) to reality, is a testament of how the education department is working in the SE U.S.

This is not a knock on educators, who are in the grind day-to-day and understand the futility, it's a knock against the politics within education that seeks the same benefit as religious leaders; to keep citizens "dependent" on religious/political leaders.

I find it mildly amusing that the motto for many schools, is to develop children to become model citizens, but a model citizen per se, many times is that child who grows up to just do what they are told by their employer in order to survive; a child/young-adult who will come to school/work on-time, do their home-work, and receive the reward/paycheck/grade.

Thus, the political entanglement in education, benefits the religious undercurrent who feed off the ignorance as well.

The one who suffers in the end, is the child/individual who lives life in a fog, who is naturally driven to cling to that which causes them the most anxiety - Reality. Reality really isn't all that bad, unless one can never seem to figure out relationships. Well, good luck this year, going on the third day, and a holiday next Monday ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I very much appreciate the feedback. I've not heard from the pastor, and the friend promises to "get back to me" when she's had better time to think these issues over.

Anonymous said...

To Dave,

I gues the problem, especially in Texas, is that a few parents and children seem to dictate what is taught, and what is acceptable in schools. When I was a Christian, I used to basically preach creation to kids. I tried to appear objective by mentioning evolution, but almost always in a condescending way. This always seemed acceptable to parents, even though by law, it shouldn't have been. Therefore, I think you are right on. Teaching a child to think for themselves is like giving them the opportunity to be who they want to be, and not what the establishment or their parents want them to be. It seems like we pump their minds so full of propoganda and so-called facts that there isn't much room for anything else. Listen, if you know of a way to teach children to be free - thinkers, that won't get me fired... I'm all ears. Not that I'm not trying, but I have to be very careful not to let my opinions and beliefs be so evident.

Anonymous said...

To Dave,

I gues the problem, especially in Texas, is that a few parents and children seem to dictate what is taught, and what is acceptable in schools. When I was a Christian, I used to basically preach creation to kids. I tried to appear objective by mentioning evolution, but almost always in a condescending way. This always seemed acceptable to parents, even though by law, it shouldn't have been. Therefore, I think you are right on. Teaching a child to think for themselves is like giving them the opportunity to be who they want to be, and not what the establishment or their parents want them to be. It seems like we pump their minds so full of propoganda and so-called facts that there isn't much room for anything else. Listen, if you know of a way to teach children to be free - thinkers, that won't get me fired... I'm all ears. Not that I'm not trying, but I have to be very careful not to let my opinions and beliefs be so evident.

Anonymous said...

Hello Caleb, good to hear from ya'. This weekend, I will be making shelves for my wife, because her classroom didn't come with any. We have purchased over 1K books for a in-class library, as group reading requires multiple copies of the same book.

I know how hard she works in the class-room, and as well, how many of the teachers try to do what is right, in the face of political change. This year for instance, there are many districts that are formalizing a specific "type" of teaching method and standards; to include what "content" and "rubric" to use.

While, this may standardize the instruction set, in order to cut costs in purchasing "supplemental" materials, it misses the point of education.

In my particular profession, we call those people so far removed from the actual tactical environment, "bean counters"... that is, those in the management who see numbers as the guiding factor in all decisions, while missing the entire notion of "education".

Education requires a human in the loop, to make judgement calls, and to lead children to have a passion for learning.

On paper, management would seem to be seeking the clean standard that "any" person who is literate could just pick up and present to a child.

Bean counter justification; saves money on different resource materials, saves teachers from having to buy supplemental materials, saves time for teachers who can teach the exact same lessons and content year after year, etc.

Reality; teachers will have children with special needs, from GT to ED, in the same classroom, obviously, a "one-size-fits-all", isn't going to allow a child to be all they can be, in the expansion of their mind to find identity.

The "emotionally disturbed" (ED) student isn't going to be "reached" the same way a "gifted and talented" (GT) student will. In between these two extremes, you have various levels of ability students, based on their circumstance(s).

Content and method of teaching is the focus for this standardization, it'll surely soak a lot of political leverage from the teacher's union, as educators will be seen as nothing but walking/talking computers, where anyone can do the job.

I see a lot to be gained by management, and not the teachers, in my opinion, there is a bean counter sitting next to someone who is seeking political leverage.

The teachers are held accountable by management for students who fail the state standardized tests, yet, it is the management/bean counters who are mandating "content" and "methodology" of instruction?

A teacher has a choice, if they follow management to the letter, they will have "greater" failure rates, and be held accountable by the same management who dictated their actions.

If a teacher, supplements, they can be fired for working "against" management and mandatory rules.

Even "if", the educator is intellectually sharp and can dance around the politics, their "success" will be statistically used to "promote" the management's one-size-fits-all program... sending the wrong message to the community and parents that the district leaders, etc., are "spot on", in their assessment of standardized content and teaching methodology.

I don't personally like "unions" for many reasons, but... in the case, where the state government is the one inflicting abuse on both educator and student in-turn, I would not be surprised if more teachers start pulling together, in order to protect th sanctity of their profession.

Right now, an educator is losing control of their class-room, slowly but surely, yet, still being held accountable for decisions beyond their control... it would only make sense, that to protect oneself from "political" abuse, either from good intentions or ill, one is going to have to empower a "political" group, that supports and advocates for the "educator" - the Teacher's Union.

Beyond politics, you asked what can you actually supplement a classroom with, that doesn't call negative attention from parents, etc. Well, the wife sends letters home to children's parents, asking them to pick books off a list that are "inappropriate" to teach their child. On that list; Harry Potter series, Narnia, Golden Compass, etc.

So, to isolate herself from parental friction; she finds out which parents are likely going to be "sensitive" on some subject matter. This of course, robs the student and alienates them from other peers, as they have to "leave" the classroom, and move to the library when group discussion occurs. That said; she is not going to martyr 20+ students, for the sake of one "sensitive" parent.

I asked her to challenge the parents who mark a book off the list, and give a logical reason for "their" reasoning, as it directly affects the student who has no say in the matter.

Yet, I quit asking, after she told me that one parent fundamentalist refused to allow Harry Potter to be taught to her child, because of inappropriate evil magic... as the parent chose as an alternative; "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)"

Obviously, a baboon has more intelligence than to make such a stupendously ignorant comment, so I asked her where this parent attended church... She said; "Cornerstone", and it all made sense.

"John C. Hagee (b. April 12, 1940) is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 19,000 active members."

This of course, is where Randy Travis, etc., and other celebrities attend church.

"Hagee is the President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries which telecasts his national radio and television ministry carried in America on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations and eight networks. The ministries can be seen and heard weekly in 99 million homes. John Hagee Ministries is in Canada on the Miracle Channel and CTS and can be seen in Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and is in most developing nations.

He is also the president and CEO of Global Evangelism Television, which telecasts his radio and television ministry. Hagee has received numerous honors and accolades from national Jewish organizations for his unwavering support of Israel. In pursuit of his support of Israel, Hagee helped found Christians United for Israel on February 7, 2006 as a "Christian AIPAC" lobbying Congress to support Israel."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hagee

He, of course, is not only busy pandering the evangelical message to congress, he politically attacks any literature that challenges what he sees as the core of his ministry; fiction. He of course, sees all non-religious fiction as impeding on hallowed grounds, as competitors; call it the market of competitive fiction.

Does knowing this help; well, not really, the wife still sends home the CYA slips, so parents are held "accountable" for what is provided to their child.

In the end, it may not matter; if an educator isn't able to "lead" students, motivate them, and guide them, because they are spending 100% of their time parroting a cookie-cutter/boiler plate lecture series, then supplementing and seeking that golden thread of a child's inner curiosity isn't going to be found and nurtured.

Educating is both a science and art; their is science that can show the nature/identity/state of a particular child in vivid detail, but it is an "art" for the educator, to bond with the student and gain their trust and respect, in order to guide them in the learning process.

Science is great to determine the state of "today", yet, it is "art" that will determine the state of "tomorrow".

The bean counters, have forgotten basic philosophy; change requires flexibility, and adaptation.

I perceive that the politicians have lost view, if they ever held it; that the "system" of education is to bring a child to enlightenment. To lead a child to be, all that they can be...

The Reagonomics of the 80's attempted to "mainstream" the classrooms in order to help the underprivilaged minority. It is a failed platform, such a theory suggests that there aren't different student abilities, and that all children need to assimilate to a common knowledge base in order to assimilate society. In theory, assimilation prevents civil rights abuses, etc.

Instead of tackling civil rights abuses, as an entirely separate issue from education; we see politics move into the classrooms. The establishment of the "model" classroom, where "all" children are to be assimilated and made normal, because a "test" says they have the same skill to take a test.

Politics, should have engaged civil rights abusers directly, and not abused the education "process", by breaking ability groups up.

There is a difference between opportunity, and ability. Students should be afforded the opportunity to an education, according to their ability. In-turn, it is the educator who should assist the child/student to be all they can be.

My wife, teaches one grade, and within that grade she teaches three/four student groups on different skill levels. Why? As you know, because there can be "no child left behind".

No child left behind, deals directly with "opportunity", not "ability". Educators don't have the time, to continue to develop customized plans for ability groups, every single year, depending on what the particular group/individual may need. Yet, it is what they have had to do, to keep the ship afloat.

If an educator does what they are told; they are blamed for selling out children into mental slavery to the establishment, if they attempt to hold to their calling as an educator, they will be blamed by management for not adhering to professional standards as set forth by the politicians.

Beyond being an active member of the Teacher's Union, an educator can not afford to be working directly under a principle/staff with some brass marbles, that will make the right call, knowing the current political situation and pickle educators are in. Unfortunate, that we now are looking at a single person, as basically holding the power to give life or death to a persons' career on a whim, but... that is what the Teacher's Union is for as well.

By the way, I'm sure you have seen or are aware of educators actually leaving their current school, to follow a principle that is reassigned, etc., because they respect and trust them.

So, politics, direct supervisor support, and... extraordinary documentation and organization. It's hard to find fault with a person, who adheres exactly to the standard, and can "prove" it, by pulling piles of paperwork out and examples of tests, quizes, rubrics, lessons, etc., that line directly up with what they were "mandated" to "teach".

I realize that handicapped students do require special attention, but mainstreaming them is not the answer, as well, I can't really see a "single" educator trying to teach a group of severely handicapped students in a single ability classroom.

The answer is obvious, more educators who can teach smaller, but more "specialized" groups by category; GT, ED, Special Needs (particular to each handicap group), etc.

The problem; politicians don't like hiking taxes up to pay for more educators, it's not good for their career, citizens don't like being taxed for "other" people's kids. I hear it every now and then... I'm single, why am I paying for school tax?

In order to gain the support of the public to pay more taxes, it has to be shown that those students in special needs categories, are not really being benefitted from being mainstreamed... a child with cerebral palsy or severe down syndrome is not going to intellectually benefit by sitting amongst an entire classroom of GT students.

And, while a school psychologist may argue that the special needs student is receiving a quality of life increase, through a social interaction they may never have had, one has to ask... is this the role of "education"? To entertain...

Hard situation; a tax-paying mother with a special needs child, expects her child to be afforded the opportunity to be educated, yet, it almost makes more sense to give a "tax-exempt" status, to the mother so she can get a personal home-nurse, who is also a certified teacher... to give one-on-one lessons.

To end this lengthy dialogue, I mentioned Dr. Montessori, because evidence based teaching can be done without political ramifications.

However, in the crisis of education at the moment, and the continual decline of time a teacher has with their students, one would have to pre-develop labs, instruction, etc., that could be brought in during routine class-room lessons.

Speaking from personal experience, when I asked my 9th grade math teacher, to explain the relationship of the quadratic equation to my reality, I got chastized and almost sent to the office. I was continually told to shut-up and color, throughout my education in public school and in college for the most part. So, I resent much of the "process" of the failed state of education in the U.S.

You may imagine that me and my wife have lively discussions, regarding education ;-) What I always try to get accross to her, is that it isn't as much what is taught, as it is what the child will actually understand; and a child in the early stages of development require "concretes" to go along with their extremely pliable imaginative natures...

So, I nag her to provide "real" evidence for what she teaches, when possible, and to provide "context" to those things, that are a little more complex... for instance, "ideas" are nouns, yet, an "idea" can't be pulled out in front of the classroom as an object for discussion. Yet, indirectly, it can be placed into proper "context", as the product of a mental process, in which, "everything" becomes an ideal in some form.

A parent may well, say, that teaching based on evidence, and providing "context" to that which can't be shown as "evidence" directly, is encrouching on their parental right to teach religion as "fact"/"evidence"...

But, then, my wife, has yet to have a parent actually challenge her on the merits of teaching "facts", and "context", as... without that, nothing can be anchored to reality or truly understood by a child. Thus "education" has no meaning at that point. Education really did have no "meaning" for me anyway, while I attended school, zero evidence and an equal amount of context.

I'll say though, I am proud of my wife, she has yet to have a child fail a standardized test, in her many years, she's a pretty good "trainer", and she hates my use of the term, I believe she could get a chimp to pass the test if given the tools of choice and enough time...

Because, of her talent, she is over-requested by parents every year to teach their children. This year, she will have no children that will not read "Harry Potter", nor, any that will have a problem with accepting that the big white thingy in the night-sky is called "moon", and thus proofed, through basic sensory perception... and "in that particular context", "sensory perception" - sight only.

Evolution is out of her hands, she has to teach a specific curriculum. Yet, she can teach "change", and "adaptation", as "fact". She has pictures of teaching in Hawaii, and going to the local sea-life park, where a whale and dolphine mated to produce a "whalphine" (wall-fin), hybrid.

A child doesn't need to know how many code parts changed, and in what fashion, they are pretty smart on understanding that the organism is no longer just a whale or just a dolphine, but something "different"... She does ask the question, "which animal do you think is the most able to adapt (change/evolve) to any environment?", and lets the student ponder that one.

She hasn't been forced to plaster a mud puddle on an overhead and suggest to the students, that it's their long lost relatives ;-), perhaps, we should give thanks for the little things...

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