|The Bible in Dorchester Schools (continued)|
This discussion started in another thread (see here), but I'm continuing it here because that one was getting too long.
The school board says that their Bible course is a "literature course" and that it is taught in a "non-devotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students as to either the truth or falsity of the biblical materials or texts from other religious or cultural traditions".
Okay, we know they say that and apparently intend to say it over and over again when questioned. But, the point is that we want to see if this is true, and we have reason to be concerned that it is not.
As I explained in my letter to the P&C (which got published yesterday), the quotes from students suggest that -- at least from their perspective -- the course is treating the Bible as a history book (which means that it is being treated as a source of "true" information). Tell me, if your school teacher gives you a textbook to read and treats it as a source of truth, is that not an "attempt to indoctrinate the student as to the truth or falsity" of that material?
Another important point, that I have not seen anyone raise in print yet, is that this course is actually very different from a literature course. In all of the literature courses I've seen at the high school level, students actually read the work of literature being discussed. I've never seen a course in which students only read summaries of some selected pieces of Tolstoy's "War and Peace".
In fact, I can imagine a literature course based on the Bible. It would involve the students actually reading the Bible (very few Americans read the entire thing, cover to cover), learning things about the original language and political contexts in which it was written, comparing it to other religious texts. (In fact, just as the school board claims that modern literature requires familiarity with the Bible, I would claim that you really need to know the mythology of the Ugaritic texts which preceded it to understand the Bible!)
But, this course is not it. From what I've seen so far, it really does look like "sunday school" and I would hope the board could do more to convince us that it isn't than merely saying so.
-Alex (and my wife, Laura, whose ideas I have borrowed from some of our recent conversations and included in the message above)