YOUR VIEWS Letters to the Editor

Will Rogers: Don’t ‘teach’ beliefs

June 4, 2014 

Kindergarten through 12th grade is a time to teach what is known and supported by sound and factual findings of science or from historical records. Freedom of speech in a K-12 classroom should not include promoting beliefs in Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, mythical gods, fairies or leprechauns. These are issues to be taught at home by parents or possibly at a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, etc.

With student maturity comes more liberal freedoms. I believe a university’s obligation is no longer to teach students what to think, but to teach students how to think, and in learning how to intelligently separate fact-based evidence from enhanced, embellished or slanted truths and to recognize myths and unsupported fiction.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently backed out as the commencement speaker at Rutgers University after protests by students and some faculty over her role in the Iraq war. Freedom of speech involves listening to all sides, weighing arguments without prejudging, and comparing arguments to known facts. Academic freedom in higher education should protect the freedom of all to speak, teach or communicate (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or authorities) without being targeted for repression.

Will Rogers, Merced

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