Monday, April 09, 2012

How Libertarians Are Different

Tennessee Senate approved a bill allowing teachers to present challenges to evolution and climate change theories.

Conservatives: It is absurd to deny teachers and opportunity to encourage critical thinking skills.

Liberals: It is absurd that we would allow teachers to present definitely false material as credible.

Libertarians: It is absurd our only option is to choose between these two extremes.

At the heart of all of the quality and content discussions of education should be the virtual monopoly on secondary and primary education the government has. This discussion is not evidence for one or the other side; it is evidence for why we need more direct competition between schools because what's optimal depends on what families want to prioritize. The best option is the middle ground:

Yes, we should take every opportunity we can to develop critical thinking skills. If students get excited about evolution v. creationism, then the teacher should leverage that interest into instruction.

And yes, we don't want nonsense to crowd out good ideas, especially ideas which are hard to understand or have a lot of interesting applications.

Should we focus on breadth (critical thinking skills) or depth (deep understanding or an important subject)? The answer should be up to you, not politicians.


Jason said...

The problem is science is not just another opinion as your post seems to indicate. Science is about a burden of proof. It's not a marketplace of ideas, if you make an assertion you have to have evidence. How popular or pretty an idea is has no relevance on if it's true or not. Saying that teaching evolution in science class and not teaching creationism because it is not true is an extreme position is ridiculous. It's like say teaching fractions in math is extreme and we should let alternate ideas about fractions be allowed as well.

Creationism is nonsense. It's been disproved time and time again yet people still stick with this bad idea despite the evidence against it. The problem is if teachers start teaching critical thinking skills as to the evolution vs creationism debate you're going to get complaints from churches about how you're attacking religion. Creationism IS religion and not only is teaching it against the first amendment of the Constitution, attacking it would be seen as part of the "war on faith" or whatever catchphrase is being used to justify religious privilege these days. And I notice that you don't allow for other creation myths to be taught as well. Why just one version of creationism when there are dozens to choose from? After all they're equally valid.

The fundamental part of creationism is that it makes assertions without confirmation then claims its immune from criticism. That's not part of critical thinking. I guess that's how libertarians are different, they're willing to accept untrue ideas if they're popular.

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