Save This Canadian Student from His Science Teacher

Well, this is disturbing…

The email comes from a student in Canada.

I need some advice! I have a brother, Kyle, who is in grade 8 high school here in North Vancouver, BC. Kyle told me today that his science teacher has just started teaching his students about intelligent design in the science class.

This is especially disturbing given that Kyle’s science teacher is also his social studies teacher, and when studying various religions, he explicitly emphasized his endorsement of Christianity and he said he believes that those who fail to accept Christ are going to hell. According to my brother, when the teacher raised the topic of intelligent design in the class, he stated that “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.

My question is, is all this legal? If not, what can I do about it as a brother of his student? If so, is there any way to challenge his ability to teach this garbage? An additional problem is that my parents are religious and would endorse intelligent design, although not Christianity.

Any help? Thanks in advance!

I don’t know how things are in Canada compared to America, but where I’m from, teachers cannot preach their religion in a public high school. That goes for Intelligent Design, too.

And — this is just me talking — any Science teachers who advocate Intelligent Design ought to have their certification revoked. They don’t know enough about their subject to be teaching it.

What advice do you have for this student?

Apparently, this sort of thing may be happening at a younger age, too…

(Thanks to Ron for the email!)

  • mikespeir

    “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.

    Oh, yeah. That looks legit.

  • PrimeNumbers

    Education varies through province, but this sure sounds dodgy.

  • Kitecraft

    “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.

    Tell him that honesty may not part of his teachers christian culture, but it should be part of his own. He should go to the Principal and stand up against it. He should tell his parents that the teacher wants him to cover up for the teacher.
    That garbage is not allowed in Canadian schools.

  • http://rogueatheist.blogspot.com TheRogueAtheist

    I have to agree with mikespeir. It’s really, really creepy when any adult does something with a child that they have to “keep secret.” If he actually had special dispensation to teach ID in the classroom, he wouldn’t have to keep it a secret, now, would he?

    I would speak with the school administrator and just voice concerns, mainly about the whole keeping it a secret thing. Most of the time, when responsible parties hear that, they don’t want to open themselves up to other sorts of lawsuits. Those words are often heard in sexual abuse cases. They should send up some warning flags, at the very least.

  • weaves

    when the teacher raised the topic of intelligent design in the class, he stated that “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.

    I’d be worried about them being asked to keep it a secret…as it implies that maybe the teacher does not have permission and is taking advantage of children listening and believing adults.

  • Ubi Dubium

    My advice is for him to tell his parents about it, and ask them to complain to the administration. My experience is that student’s gripe all the time, and that parents get taken more seriously.

    Does Canada have any kind of organization like AU? If they do, they might be able to help. Or mabye ask the FFRF.

  • Dan C.

    In my experience any time an adult does something to a kid (touches them in the no-no place, teaches them ID, whatever) and then tells them to keep it a secret, it’s probably not in the best interest of the child.

  • Stephen P

    I would advise him to raise the matter promptly with another teacher who he trusts, preferably a science teacher, or with the headmaster. And if he doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, then write, together with his parents, a formal letter of complaint to the school, signed by his parents.

    Regardless of what the legal situation is (I would be interested to know) it is educationally unacceptable to teach “intelligent design” in science class. This teacher is clearly incompetent (at best).

  • Clayton

    The BC Ministry of Education does not endorse ID as science. The curriculum carefully and explicitly lays out that Science is Science and ID is Religion. From the grade 8 science curriculum

    While respecting the personal beliefs of students, teachers should be careful to distinguish between knowledge based on the application of scientific methods, and religious teachings and associated beliefs such as creationism, theory of divine creation, or intelligent design theory.

    The Introduction to Applications of Physics 11 and 12 is more explicit with

    Similarly, in the choice and use of learning resources to support the prescribed learning outcomes of the science curriculum, school boards, administrative officers, and teachers should ensure that no religious dogma or religious belief system is advocated or presented as part of the discipline of science.

    You need to complain to, at least, the school board superintendent. You might want to complain to the Minister. Without a complaint they can do nothing.

    Of course alarm bells should go off any time a teacher asks a student to keep a secret.

  • http://shrinni.livejournal.com/ Sharon

    It’s my understanding that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (I may be conflating 2 documents here – not Canadian so please excuse my ignorance) is extremely clear about not discriminating against others based on religion/culture. Laws vary by province but I can’t imagine BC not being very accepting due to their high immigration rate.

    The teacher may be able to dodge this particular issue in the science class if he didn’t talk about Christianity specifically, but telling students non-Christians are going to hell probably falls under the Charter’s list of no-nos? (Quite aside from not teaching the curriculum and abusing authority of course.)

    Anyone more familiar with the Charter and Canadian law?

  • http://omega-geek.blogspot.com Spook

    Come on, Canada, stay classy!

    Anyway, if the teacher is saying to keep it a secret, then obviously they’re doing something wrong. He should bring it up to the administration, school board, media, whatever.

  • Jonathan Kuyper

    This young student might start by contacting the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, http://www.ccla.org. In addition to providing basic information about civil liberties in schools, the site provides links to other civil rights organizations in Canada.

  • http://theframeproblem.wordpress.com Ron Brown

    Hemant,

    Thanks for posting this.

    I say make a big stink about it. The guy is knowingly breaking the rules, he’s denigrating education as a whole and science in particular, he’s using his position of trusted authority to instill the fear of a supposed God into impressionable children,…

    This is actually not the first instance of this in Canada that I’ve heard about in the last year. A friend of mine is in teacher’s college in a suburb outside of Toronto, where he is training to be a high school science teacher. During one of his teaching co-op positions, his supervising teacher was teaching ID and denigrating evolution with tired old Creationist nonsensical criticisms. I offered to help my friend pursue action on this, as I was connected with the major secularist organizations in Canada, but he didn’t want the headache and any potential harm it could do him in his education and career as a teacher. So, nothing was done about it. But there it is.

  • Marissa

    REPORT THE TEACHER. First of all, if he’s telling kids to ‘keep it a secret’, then that’s a big red flag that he’s doing something he knows he’s not supposed to be doing. Kids have a right to a truthful and honest education, and I think that no teacher, no matter what their beliefs, should be able to deny them that.

  • Ex Partiot

    The teacher needs to fired now,

  • Stephen M.

    eMail or letter to you school board, local government rep., territorial rep, MP, etc.

    Write them anonymous as you “fear retribution”.

  • Stephen P

    While respecting the personal beliefs of students, teachers should be careful to distinguish between knowledge based on the application of scientific methods, and religious teachings and associated beliefs such as creationism, theory of divine creation, or intelligent design theory.

    OK, scrub my previous suggestion. Given that context, it’s clear what the teacher is up to, and an immediate formal written complaint is appropriate.

  • Adrian

    In North Van!? I expect this kind of nonsense from Surrey or the other hick burbs, but North Van? I might expect some hippy stuff but not ID, ugh, I feel really disappointed.

    I’d say to talk to the principal or another teacher, especially a science teacher. They can bring this up before the teachers union who handle much of the discipline. If none of this works, let us know – there are probably more elaborate measures you can take.

  • http://theframeproblem.wordpress.com Ron Brown

    One more thought: Regarding the whole thing about the teacher telling the kids to keep it a secret. Doesn’t the Bible say something about not doing something that you wouldn’t want your neighbour to find out about?

  • Yossarian

    I live in North Van. I grew up in North Van. I went to a North Van high school. It’s probably a good thing that no names were named, because I’d probably otherwise march over there and give a piece of my mind.

    But others are right – this should be reported. It’s not permissible for a teacher to proselytize in the classroom, and ID is certainly NOT in the curriculum.

    The best course would probably be to bring this up with the parents and have them raise the issue with the principal. If that doesn’t get anywhere, then the school district office (I know the address and can provide). Failing that, the school board, the ministry? At some point, maybe the media?

  • Wendy

    This is definitely not legal. Definitely.

    “…he stated that “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.”

    RED FLAG!!! Kyle should blow the whistle. I would! If the teacher has permission, then no secrets need be kept. Either the guy is lying and abusing the trust of the students, or he’s telling the truth and somebody somewhere higher up the chain of command has fucked up. Either way, this is not allowed and needs to be stopped.

    Kyle should find out what his parents think. If they’re against it too, that’s a total bonus and they can help. But if they’re for it, it makes no difference anyway because the law is still the law. He should then talk to another trusted teacher, see what they think. Maybe talk to a school counselor as well. They might suggest that you talk to the teacher directly about it. That might be scary, but I think it’s worth a try.

    If not, it will probably then have to go to the principal. If the principal does nothing about it, go directly to the school board. If they don’t do anything about it, write to the appropriate MLA in North Van. You may not be old enough to vote yet, Kyle, but your MLAs are still there to help you! Also, if it goes this far, I suggest you write letters to 24 Hours, Metro, Georgia Straight, the Province and the Sun. Problems like this need to be brought to light so they can be avoided in the future.

    Most importantly, DON’T LET THE TEACHER INTIMIDATE YOU INTO STAYING QUIET!!!!!! He’s breaking the law, no two ways about it.

  • Adrian

    If it helps, my partner is a teacher in the Vancouver district and may be able to offer some good contacts or ideas. Hemant can pass along my e-mail address and I can put them in touch if you think it would help.

  • http://www.aperfectfool.com Codswallop

    The teacher supposedly said:

    …that my brother should keep it a secret.

    Any adult who asks kids to keep “secrets” like this is up to no good and knows it. This isn’t Daddy planning a surprise party for Mom. This is an alleged professional engaging in very unprofessional behavior to further his personal agenda. Far from “keeping the secret,” Kyle should tell every adult he knows.

    Starting with the Superintendent of his school district.

  • http://www.limetwists.com Cole

    I don’t know about high schools in Canada, but I’m currently dealing with a similar problem with my pre-schooler (in Kentucky. Go figure.). I gave her money to make a purchase at the “Santa’s Workshop” event that the school held. She came home with a grab bag. When I opened it up for her, there was a toy, a book and.. A coloring book titled “Happy Birthday Jesus”. I traded her another coloring book from my secret stash, and now I’ve got emails out to the principal, her teacher, and the PTO (who organized the workshop).

  • stephanie

    he stated that “normally, he’s not allowed to teach this, but in this case, they’ve made an exception,” and that my brother should keep it a secret.

    What, did the guy get this out of the Child Molester’s Handbook? A responsible adult (in this case, the brother) should immediately call the principal or any other authority for clarification upon hearing this uttered from a child. Yeesh. My skin started crawling just reading it.

  • http://doubtfuldaughter.wordpress.com Amy

    Isn’t one of the first signs of child abuse the perpetrator stating that it must be kept secret? The fact that the teacher is asking the kids to keep silent is the biggest of red flags that something is going on that shouldn’t.

  • Orson

    Advice?
    Take it to the media!
    Tell your story to a newspaper, any newspaper. If the major ones in your municipality don’t take the story, go to local newspapers, college campus papers, anything! If this teacher was in Ontario and I knew about it, you damn well know that the editors of my university papers would be reading emails from me about it!

  • anonymouse

    i have to echo (sorry). Teachers telling students to keep secrets is icky in almost every circumstance!

  • Emily

    I’m not from BC but i’m pretty sue this would be incredibly illegal in Ontario. BC is also pretty liberal so i imagine the laws are similar. Also if his teacher is telling the students to “keep it secret” it MUST be wrong, if not against the law.

  • Rasputin

    Tape a lecture. Play it for the school board. Make a fuss.

  • Scott

    As a Canadian I find this extremely disturbing. As has been said already many times in the comments, this is illegal in Canada. The teacher should have his teaching certificate revoked.

    The student should immediately complain to his parents, and issue a written complaint to the school and the school board, and the newspaper (the latter is just for fun).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X