Overhead at a High School Graduation
The other night I was enjoying a rather pleasant, short, and uneventful high school graduation. The parents were tame as expected; they were respectful and applauded at the appropriate times. The ceremony stood in stark contrast against my previous 4 high school graduations in an urban charter school district. Those ceremonies were filled with praises to God and prayers throughout the night. It was mind-numbing; I had to down at least 3 beers at a nearby hotel bar before each ceremony.
Sorry, so back to my rant. Towards the end of the graduation ceremony, when it felt like the ceremony had ended, the principal appeared to fill in a few minutes and cleverly amuse the crowd. He went on to distinguish between being just a good student versus being a great student. He described how our graduates arrived at school early morning or stayed after school for extra tutoring and practice.
I was ok with everything he said up to that point, although very exaggerated.
I started raging when the principal said like when students came to school early in the morning to talk with the TOK (Theory of Knowledge) teacher about the debate between Evolution and Creation.
I immediately thought to myself what the fuck he is talking about?!
Fortunately for me, the TOK teacher was sitting in the row in front of me, so I planned to catch him in the lobby at the conclusion of the ceremony.
As we trailed out of the auditorium, I turned to the TOK teacher and said to him, “So, I didn’t know there was still a debate between evolution and creationism.”
Mr. K replied, “Ha there isn’t. I’ve never had that discussion with any of my students in 22 years.”
The smile and grin on my face were priceless!
He continued, “One is a scientific fact and the other is a MYTH.”
I couldn’t believe that the principal claimed in front of a few thousand people, most of whom are educated, that the TOK teacher discusses with students the debate between Evolution and Creation.
I think he was trying to sound clever and smart, but failed miserably!
WHAT IS TOK (Theory of Knowledge)?
TOK plays a special role in the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know.
I absolutely love this class!
As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions.
The most central of these is “How do we know?”, while other questions include:
- What counts as evidence for X?
- How do we judge which is the best model of Y?
- What does theory Z mean in the real world?
What is the significance of TOK?
TOK aims to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected.
It offers students and their teachers the opportunity to:
- reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge
- consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, in the cultures of others and in the wider world.
In addition, TOK prompts students to:
- be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge
- recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.
10 Things I Wish I Knew
While browsing for Evolution vs. Creationism images, I stumbled across 10 Things I Wish I Knew About the Creation vs. Evolution Debate by Michael Lehmann on the OnFaith.co site.
When thinking about my angle here, I decided to not just bash Creationism (however much it deserves to be bashed and ridiculed) but to give a Christian’s perspective on the issue. I was pleasantly surprised with Lehmann’s article!
A few things Lehmann wishes he knew:
- the Bible is NOT a science book
- Evolution is just a theory….a scientific theory- and he know understands the difference between a scientific theory and I have a theory about…
- Evolution doesn’t disprove creation. They are completely different and address two different things. Evolution says nothing about the origins of the Universe
- Accepting Evolution doesn’t make you an atheist
Secular Student Alliance
During 16 years of teaching, I’ve overheard a lot of religious bullshit and ridiculous rhetoric. Sadly, I’ve grown used to it but it has pushed and motivated me to delve further into secular activism.
Next year I will be sponsoring the Secular Student Alliance in my school. After noticing an atheism symbol on my laptop, a student approached me about sponsoring next year.
My school has an In God We Trust sign posted in a hallway and they insist that our students and staff stand for a daily Moment of Silence and for the Pledge of Allegiance.
A teacher recently insisted that I stop walking in the hallway during the Moment of Silence and actually put up her hand in my face as I walked toward my office. I complied because I didn’t want to cause a scene. That shit won’t happen again, though.
A student once asked me why I don’t stand for The Pledge. I replied that, first of all, I have a constitutional right to not stand; secondly, my patriotism isn’t defined by an oath to a piece of cloth. I was surprised when he said that that made sense and he’d think about it.
American schools love to create obedient, non-critical thinking citizens.
Were You There?
By the way, the featured image above is a reference to my mother-in-law and her favorite line in any debate or argument with me or my wife…WERE YOU THERE?
She says that we have no proof of Evolution or The Big Bang because we weren’t there. We can never know anything because….we weren’t there.
Except when I use that line on her, she quickly turns to her classic Ad Hominem attacks.