Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This Book was not Written for Them

I really wasn't going to comment on politics or religion. Really. There are thousands of better-informed bloggers out there than me. I tend towards angry ranting instead. But, some things just really, really push my buttons. It must be the holidays.

Apparently, a bunch of student are suing the University of California for refusing to accept some of their courses for admission to the school. The books and topics for these classes are from textbooks written especially for "christian" schools (mostly by Bob Jones University) and present a faith-based approach to learning. Rejecting the literature class ("Christianity and Morality in American Literature") was not done because of the christian-based content; I've taken courses with similar content at the UofMN and seen classes like this at Regis University (although usually as philosophy classes, not as literature courses). The classes were discarded because the school requires that the full text of at least some of the literature be read in a literature course, not just excerpts. I might disagree with their particular interpretation, but if they followed the rules, the credits would be accepted. As is it, they don't and it's not. If this class was taught anywhere else, it would not be accepted in its current form, either.

The classes just aren't up to par from an academic perspective (based on content and coursework) -- and, they look at everything from a biblical perspective and a biased one, at that. Of course, criticizing them means we're against christianity and they start whining 'discrimination' as soon as they are called to justify the classwork. Why I am not surprised that these idiots are complaining?

The school has every right in the world to indoctrinate its students with whatever religious dogma they want to. If parents spend money to send their children there, expecting a religious education, they have made that choice. But when they teach classes solely from books including "...for the Christian School" in their title, and their literature course only excerpts text from the classics to evaluate the author's adherence to christian beliefs, or their biology book clearly states that it will follow the bible and not science...well, that isn't up to snuff outside of their own circle. That's not education, that's indoctrination and it belongs in seminary, not in college prep classes. There are standards for classes to be accredited and BJU and other schools do not get to have their own rules. The whole world cannot be viewed through the rose-colored glasses with jesus-belief as its sole perspective. College requires critical thinking, and frankly, that is not the goal of such a class.

Questionable Authority has a much more eloquent and informed explanation of this whole kerfuffle in their blog.

A nursing friend of my husbands was dismayed to learn that her degree from BJU is not accredited, barring her from a number of other nursing programs without remedial work. She got a good education, she's a smart woman, but the standards of the school do not follow the rules and the BJU and the other schools are aware of the standards and most of their classes comply. They could make changes to bring the rest up to par. They either refuse to do so, or it hasn't been an issue until now.

The christian-schoolers argue that they can teach what they want and that to refuse to allow their classes is discriminatory. It's a hard call with a course in literature which can be completely subjective, but history and sciences have well-accepted norms that I expect college-bound students to understand them. What next? Faith-based physics? Do we have to allow a school that teaches an alternate numeric theory? Or a school that teaches history that completely denies the holocaust and WWII? Accept a sociology class that is based on the 'fact' that certain races are superior? At some point, we need to recognize these biased, exclusionary teachings for what they are: propaganda, and push them to the fringes of the academic world.

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