Out of the mouth of babes.
True education doesn’t fear alternative views or even falsehoods, though they should be couched in age-appropriateness and a venue where options are presented with evidence. At least, that was the educational belief of our Founding Fathers and those who followed them for a few generations.
With Independence Day fast approaching, consider alone the words of one of the greatest American minds and educators and one of the pillars of our republic, Thomas Jefferson, who vehemently fought for the broad education of common Americans. As he founded the University of Virginia, he wrote this about his philosophy and goal of education on Dec. 26, 1820: “This institution of my native state, the Hobby of my old age, will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of (its) contemplation.”
The very next day, he further elaborated about what “illimitable freedom of the human mind” should encompass: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
Jefferson was exactly right, too. Regardless of whether our views define truth and reality, an open education is about presenting every side of the coin — no matter how ignorant or idiotic we believe another’s views are or appear to be. That is why teaching about “intelligent design” and religion should be an integral part of every curriculum.
Roughly 30 years ago, Dr. Allan Bloom wrote these words of warning about a country and educational system that were mimicking fascism more than they were freedom, in his now classic book “The Closing of the American Mind”: “True openness is the accompaniment of the desire to know, hence of the awareness of ignorance. To deny the possibility of knowing good and bad is to suppress true openness.”
There is also no doubt about this: When we fear alternative views to the extent that we eliminate them from curricula, we have reduced education to nothing more than tyranny and indoctrination.
As Bloom said, “freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities.”
(If you haven’t seen the movie “God’s Not Dead,” which addresses the very heart of this academic issue, please see it. If you can’t find it in a local theater, try to find it at a church in your area that has bought a license to show it. For more information, go to http://godsnotdeadthemovie.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2014 CHUCK NORRIS
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