Do you have to be a moron to be a person of faith: Saying ‘vagina’

27 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: People of faith are admonished to “be in the world and not of it.” Does that mean that one has to lose the ability to think critically because one is a person of faith? Alexander Abad-Santos of the Atlantic Wire posted the article, A High-School Sex-Ed Teacher Is Being Punished for Saying the Word ‘Vagina’:

Tim McDaniel, an 18-year vetaran of the biology department at the public school in Dietrcich, Idaho, might have to figure out how to teach the miracle of life to his high-school students without saying the word “vagina” after a group of unhappy parents found the word offensive. Because now he’s kind of in big trouble for, you know, doing his job in the teen pregnancy capital of Idaho. According to what McDaniel told Boise’s Times-News, four parents at the school complained that he taught their children “the biology of an orgasm” and said the word “vagina” during his sex-education lesson to a room of sophomores. Yes, sophomores, some of whom have had vaginas for 14 to 15 years. It’s unclear whether the word “penis” was met with equal offense. But, apparently, allegations from (likely Mormon) parents also complain that McDaniel has shown the film an Inconvenient Truth in class, and according to a letter served to McDaniel by a quick to respond official from Idaho’s Department of Education: 

[T]he allegations also include that he shared confidential student files with an individual other than their parents, showed a video clip in class depicting an infection of genital herpes, taught different forms of birth control and told inappropriate jokes in class.

Despite the letter from the upper levels of the state education system, the school superintendent tells the Times-News that upset parents won’t get Mr. McDaniels fired: “It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal… Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.” McDaniel is denying any wrongdoing, and the school’s slap on the wrist might indicate that McDaniel’s alleged transgressions might just be that — alleged. “I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention,” McDaniel tells the Times-News. “But I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they don’t feel comfortable with the material.”                               

http://news.yahoo.com/high-school-sex-ed-teacher-being-punished-saying-214012946.html

Now, keep the discussion of the teacher in hot water for saying “vagina” in perspective when reading news about the number of sexually transmitted infections.

Terence P. Jeffrey writes in the article, CDC: 110,197,000 Venereal Infections in U.S.; Nation Creating New STIs Faster Than New Jobs or College Grads:

According to new data released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 19.7 million new venereal infections in the United States in 2008, bringing the total number of existing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S. at that time to 110,197,000.

The 19.7 million new STIs in 2008 vastly outpaced the new jobs and college graduates created in the United States that year or any other year on record, according to government data. The competition was not close.

The STI study referenced by the CDC estimated that 50 percent of the new infections in 2008 occurred among people in the 15-to-24 age bracket. In fact, of the 19,738,800 total new STIs in the United States in 2008, 9,782,650 were among Americans in the 15-to-24 age bracket.

By contrast, there were 1,524,092 bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States in the 2007-2008 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means the total number of new STIs in 2008 outpaced the total number of new bachelor’s degrees by nearly 13 to 1, and the number of new STIs among Americans in the 15-to-24 age bracket outnumbered new bachelor’s degrees by more than 6 to 1.  http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cdc-110197000-venereal-infections-us-nation-creating-new-stis-faster-new-jobs-or

Yes, there is obviously a question of values, but there is also a question of how to teach children of faith critical thinking skills so that they can engage the culture and not run from it.

Moi wrote in Critical thinking skills for kids are crucial: The lure of Superbowl alcohol ads:

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. Many boys look at the buff bodies of the men in the ads and don’t realize that some use body enhancing drugs. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe. It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. Parents and schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out often that the picture presented in advertising is often as close to reality as the bedtime fairy tail. Reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

See, Admongo                                                                 http://ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/admongo/html-version.shtml

and How to Help a Child With Critical Thinking Skills      

 http://www.livestrong.com/article/178182-how-to-help-a-child-with-critical-thinking-skills/#ixzz2Jlv5L6HR

The blog, Dad in the Middle has some great thoughts about teaching kids in the post, 22 Ways to Teach Kids HOW to Think And Not Just WHAT to Think:

So, how do we encourage our kids to think about God and analyze their faith even at a young age?  How do we teach them the critical skill of questioning their faith and working through the answers?  How do we teach the essential skills of critical analysis?  Here are twenty-two ideas for elementary age kids:

  1. Encourage questions….
  2. Draw questions out of kids. So, we’ve seen that kids have plenty of questions, but there are a some kids who just don’t want to ask them.  Whether they are shy or embarrassed or whatever the reason may be, as workers in Children’s Ministry we must establish the kind of environment that not only encourages questions but draws them out from those kids who are reluctant to ask them.  Ask kids what is on their mind.  Leave time for questions and answers.  Call on kids who may be reluctant and ask them to give you a question.  Have reluctant kids ask the children who are less reluctant what they learned that weekend.
  3. Let kids know that it is OK to ask questions about God. Remind kids that our God is a big God, and he can take our questions.  There is no question that catches God by surprise or changes his love for us…. 
  4. Model asking questions in your life. Kids learn best by example.  We must model asking hard questions about God and about our faith.  We must share with them how we have worked through our own questions about God.  We can even suggest questions for kids to think about.
  5. Be prepared to answer their questions. When we’re working with kids to teach them how to think through their faith, it is critical that we be prepared.  That means we must actively engage in the same kind of critical analysis in our own lives and in our own walks with God so that we can lead kids through the process.
  6. Try to lead the child to an answer rather than just giving it to them. It is easy to just answer a question – especially if you’re in a hurry.  It is harder, but much more edifying, to help a child work through their question prompting them when necessary… 
  7. Never minimize a child’s question. Sometimes kids ask questions which seem simple or trivial or which are an annoyance in the grand scheme of trying to teach your lesson.  That said, you must never minimize their questions.  The question was important enough to them to ask it, and you should treat it with the same level of importance in answering.  If you don’t, you risk building a culture where the kids do not feel free to ask questions.
  8. Try to figure out if there is a bigger question behind the question which was articulated. Another reason not to minimize any question is because the questions that children ask sometimes mask bigger questions which are on their minds…. 
  9. Be willing to admit when you don’t know the answer. Kids are pretty astute.  If you try to fake your way through an answer, one of two things will happen.  You will either teach them some flawed theology that could stick with them and harm their spiritual journey, or they will see right through you and no longer trust you to answer their questions.  If you don’t know the answer to a child’s question, use that as an opportunity to work through that question alongside the child.  What a wonderful opportunity to teach them exactly what critical thinking and evaluation of a question looks like!  Teach them how to brainstorm answers, and use the Bible to come up with the right answer.
  10. Ask hypothetical questions. This encourages children to apply what they have learned.  Give them age appropriate scenarios and ask them what they would do.  If they’re wrong, don’t just tell them they’re wrong and move on.  Encourage them to think through the issue and explain why they gave the answer they did.  Encourage them to explore the other sides of the hypothetical question.
  11. 11.  Ask questions where the answer is not always God or Jesus
  12. Ask open-ended questions. Simple yes/no questions and factual questions serve a purpose, but in order to get kids thinking, it is important to ask open ended questions…. 
  13. Encourage kids to consider other perspectives. Ask them how other people they know might handle a situation.  Ask them what they would say if they had to defend the opposite position on an issue you are discussing.  Ask them why they think some people don’t believe in God.  Teaching kids to identify and think about potential issues in their way of thinking (right or wrong) helps them to critically analyze what they believe and to arrive at a considered opinion rather than leaping to a conclusion or basing there conclusion solely on feelings.
  14. Encourage kids’ imaginations. Imagination spurs on the thought life.  Encourage kids to draw pictures and make up stories.  Show them a picture and ask them to tell you a story about.  Help them if you must, but encourage them along the way to come up with their own story.  In encouraging their imaginations, you are encouraging them to think and to think outside the box.  You are encouraging them to pay attention to details.  All of these skills are useful in learning how to think.
  15. Ask kids what they think something means before you tell them. Read kids a Bible story and encourage them to tell you what they think it means.  Offer the kids a scripture verse and ask them to explain it to you.  All of these exercises move us from teaching kids what to think to teaching them how to think!
  16. Teach kids to keep an open mind. Most kids, most people in fact, think they are right most of the time.  It is important to teach kids how to keep an open mind.  Once a child decides they are right and there is no reason to even entertain dissenting opinions, they have closed themselves off to thinking and analyzing their beliefs and positions critically.  Truth is truth, and it can stand up to rigorous examination.  There is no danger in keeping in an open mind.  Ultimately we hope that our kids will have strong convictions and an open mind based on their own analysis of the evidence.
  17. Teach children that there is right and wrong in the world. In the post-modern, relativistic world that we live in, and that kids are subjected to every day, it is important that they realize that there is such a thing as right and wrong.  However, it is not enough just to tell them this truth, you must show them why it is true.  We must teach them that truth exists because God exists and that the Bible is the revealed truth of God.
  18. Work to move kids from the milk to the meat of Christianity….
  19. Encourage children to talk about their doubts. Even kids have doubts.  We must encourage kids to talk about them.  Doubts left to fester can eventually undermine a child’s faith.  Encourage kids to deal with their doubts quickly.  Doubts are a great way to teach kids the art of how to think.  If a child has a tragic event happen and doubts the love of God, ask them what they know about God’s love from the Bible.  Point to examples of God’s love in their life.  Point to examples of God’s love in helping you through difficult times.
  20. Teach them to actively listen. In order to think critically, we must be able to listen to other people.  This entails a lot more than just hearing.  Encourage kids to not only repeat what you have said but to tell you what they think you meant.  Teach kids to hear people out and think about what they are saying.  Explain to kids that you can’t listen to what someone is saying when your using all of your brain power to come up with your response before they are even done…. 
  21. Teach kids to love and to use their Bibles….
  22. Encourage children to pray about their questions and their doubts. We must encourage kids to take their questions and their doubts to God in prayer.  This may mean leaving a question hanging until the next week so that the child can pray about it.  The next weekend, ask them if they have been praying about the question, and ask them what they have learned in their prayer time.  Even with the skill of knowing how to think, it is important for kids to understand that God knows all and they should take their questions and their decisions to him.

Many thanks go out to a number of my personal friends and fellow workers who share the calling to minister to God’s children.  Thanks for your input and your suggestions.                                                                     http://waynestocks.com/2009/06/19/22-ways-to-teach-kids-how-to-think-and-not-just-what-to-think/

People of faith must be able to confront and challenge the culture when necessary. Yes, we may be “in the world and not of it,” but we are still in the world. One does not have to be a moron to be a person of faith.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

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