Teacher in trouble for saying Adam & Eve story is a myth

Teacher in trouble for saying Adam & Eve story is a myth April 3, 2017

Parents of children attending a Muslim school in New York are furious that an English teacher, Nina Kossman, above, told a class that Adam and Eve did not exist.
They are even angrier with Kossman for showing pupils a picture of the naked pair by 17th-Century artist Paul Rubens.
Imani Al-Amin, an assistant to the principal at Razi School in Woodside, Queens, told Kossman:

The parents were in shock – in a fury.

He told her that a group of angry parents showed up at the school the next day to complain that she:

Discussed Jews with them and showed them pictures of naked people. You have to understand that this is a different environment.

Kossman was cast out of Razi and exiled to a Department of Education “rubber room”, a Queens office used for educators facing discipline. While she does nothing but menial paperwork, taxpayers have to foot her $90,000 salary.
Trouble erupted during a discussion with third grade pupils. The teacher explained:

One girl was trying to say that girls are as important as boys because without women there would not be any men.

The girl turned to Kossman:

Teacher, all people are born from a woman’s belly, right?

Kossman agreed, but a boy chimed in:

One person was not born from a woman’s belly – Adam!

Kossman replied:

It’s just a story, a myth. It’s not real.

The boy objected:

Adam is not a story! He is real!

But Kossman persisted:

The story of Adam and Eve belongs to three religions  first Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam.

When some kids said they didn’t believe it, Kossman opened her laptop and called up the Wikipedia page on Adam and Eve. Up popped the famous painting by 17th-Century artist Paul Rubens of nude Adam and Eve. The kids cried:

Ooh! Naked people! We’re not allowed to look at naked people!

Kossman said she covered the picture with her hands, but read from the Wikipedia entry, which says Adam and Eve is a “creation myth” of the three religions.
With kids still calling her wrong, Kossman insisted:

Well, it’s up to you to think that, but it happens to be true.

An NYU Islamic studies professor who did not want to be named criticised Kossman:

Many religious people think that someone in the scripture is actually an historical truth. To say it is a myth can be deemed offensive.

Kossman said she’s never gotten in trouble before. Since 1991, the DOE has sent her to about 20 religious schools, mostly Catholic but several yeshivas and one other Muslim school. She was assigned to Razi in September 2014.
She teaches English as a second language to students who speak Urdu, Bengali, Farsi and Arabic at home, using fairy tales and literature in lessons. She said:

The children like me very much. They like my classes.

Kossman, who emigrated from Russia to the US with her parents in 1973, describes herself as non-religious. She has written seven books, including her own poetry and translations, and an autobiography of her childhood in the Soviet Union. She is also a painter and sculptor.
DOE teachers assigned to non-public schools “don’t have any specific guidelines,” Kossman said.

It’s generally understood that we should not talk about religion to students. I probably should have avoided talking about it.

Al-Amin and Principal Ghassan Elcheikhali refused to comment, referring questions to the DOE, which said Kossman is under investigation.

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  • Playonwords

    To the NYU scholar, believing something is an “historical truth” is not the same as it being true. Some Buddhists believe the following is an historical truth:
    “On the way to Devadaha, the procession passed Lumbini Grove, which was full of blossoming trees. Entranced, the Queen asked her courtiers to stop, and she left the palanquin and entered the grove. As she reached up to touch the blossoms, her son was born.
    Then the Queen and her son were showered with perfumed blossoms, and two streams of sparkling water poured from the sky to bathe them. And the infant stood, and took seven steps, and proclaimed “I alone am the World-Honored One!”

  • Paul

    Isn’t it sad how these people are so hurt and offended by facts. And no doubt now out pour a torrent of hatred towards her.
    Belief is such a dangerous thing for it imprisons the mind.

  • remigius

    She doesn’t look happy does she. Though that look is not anger – it’s disappointment. My mother used to give me the same look when I’d done something stupid.

  • Peterat

    Having emigrated from Soviet Russia in the 70’s she would be sadly familiar with the treatment!

  • Angela_K

    The religious using Orwellian tactics to suppress facts – again. I expect these religious idiots believe men have one fewer ribs than women.

  • Prior

    Religions are primitive harmful divisive and retarding. An abomination. A pox on humanity.

  • Prior

    Religions are primitive harmful divisive retarding and dangerous. An abomination. A pox on humanity. Adam and Eve did not exist. Its worse than a myth. Its a damned lie. And science has proven its not true. Proven beyond doubt.

  • Newspaniard

    Who is doing the educating here? She is a teacher. Because the parents are ignorant morons, doesn’t mean that she has to sink to their level. What do the education authorities think they are doing? Every student in that classroom now thinks that they won and that the teacher was proven wrong. We have the same problem in the UK where, for example, science teachers are not allowed to teach evolution if there are death cult students present. I despair.

  • Alan Crowe

    “One person was not born from a woman’s belly – Adam!”
    It’s odd then that he’s always depicted with a belly button, why would he have needed an umbilical cord?

  • barriejohn

    Alan: He was created with a navel, just as he was created with artificial age. God knows the end from the beginning!
    Angela: I was told as a young Christian that men have one less rib than women. Not only is this demonstrably wrong, but makes no sense anyway.

  • Jeff Bulmer

    Kids start off believing anything they’re told, like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.
    It’s a shame that some don’t manage to grow out of believing all the religious nonsense that’s around.

  • Marcus

    “Ooh! Naked people! We’re not allowed to look at naked people!”
    That made my afternoon. Mercifully they were not in Hull last year: http://www.ufunk.net/en/photos/sea-of-hull-spencer-tunick/

  • L.Long

    And so many are called raciest when they say muslins should not be allowed into the country because they do not care about the country they move into and will try their hardest to change it into the image of what they left!!!
    This has happened a few times.
    But things being the way they are, the teacher was not too smart! She is in a MUSLIN school and said something extremely foolish!! She’s lucky…still has head!!!

  • Angela_K

    @Barriejohn. The Eve’s rib myth is one the things that made me realise religion is nonsense. I challenged my RE teacher with one of my Mum’s medical books after the teacher made the claim about a man’s “missing” rib.

  • Daz

    To be fair, I was raised faithless an’ secular an’ all, and I was exposed to the missing rib myth as well. I think it was just one of them things that “everybody knows.”

  • barriejohn

    I had no idea that it was so widely believed.

  • Cali Ron

    The DOE says she’s under investigation. For what? Telling the truth? She’s a teacher for non existent diety’s sake.
    On the whole rib thing, if man has 1 less rib, shouldn’t women only have 1 rib? Just sayin’.

  • remigius

    So, she’s under investigation for telling them the truth about Adam and Eve – what’s gonna happen if she expresses an opinion on the gospel stories of Jesus and His Knights of the Round Table?

  • Cali Ron

    So does that make Mary Guinevere? Pretty hilarious when you conflate a myth with a myth and call yourself a historian. Next up, Samson is really Paul Bunyan.

  • remigius

    “So does that make Mary Guinevere?
    Cali Ron. Yes, but. When King Arthur (Jesus/Brian the Snail) was searching Britain for the Holy Grail he was actually looking for Mary Magdalene, who was in living it up in the south of France (obviously).

  • Paul

    Funny isn’t it that Adam had one less rib and eve was created using his rib.
    Ummm didn’t Buddha get born through his mothers rib cage?

  • Cali Ron


  • remigius

    “Next up, Samson is really Paul Bunyan.”

  • StephenJP

    Third-graders are (I guess) about 8 or 9 years old. Given that this was a Muslim school, with hindsight she might have been a bit more nuanced in her language; and she should certainly have been more careful about her visual aids.
    Having said that, the parents’ reaction is completely over the top.

  • Laura Roberts

    Sorry, couldn’t resist…

  • Laura Roberts

    Actually @StephenJP, you’ve got a point. Were I in her shoes (and I’m certainly not) I might have tried a bit of Socratic dialog instead of making flat statements of fact. For example, by first explaining that some people believe Adam is a myth, then asking the kids how to tell the difference between myth and fact — try to teach them how to think rather than what to think.
    I’ve no experience in elementary education, but I have had similar conversations with kids younger than that, discussing the finer points of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

  • Wingo Tally Ho

    Meanwhile … the spineless and sidelined CoE are complaining about … what? Easter eggs that’s what.

  • Brian Jordan

    People are bound to believe in that rib business – for too long Chinese restaurants have been plying them with spare ribs, so it has to be true.

  • Brian Jordan

    We have the same problem in the UK where, for example, science teachers are not allowed to teach evolution if there are death cult students present.
    I thought the government had, eventually, got a grip on this and enforced the teaching of evolution even in primary schools. ISTR even “faith” schools get a rollicking from OFSTED if they deny evolution.
    I’d be interested in any accounts of it happening in ordinary schools.

  • barriejohn

    British schools of all types are not supposed to be teaching Creationism:

  • Edwin Salter

    A practical point is re speaking in schools here about humanist/ non-religious beliefs. Perhaps the key is to remind the young that, whatever it is they believe, most of the world will think otherwise. And that religions/beliefs change over history, and can change within personal life.

  • John

    This story encapsulates the extent to which religion is stupefying the USA.
    While it might (might?) be possible to feel some sympathy for the misguided children, to learn that the parents were even more misguided explains why so many muslim countries are backward and why the USA itself is becoming ever-more backward too.
    From a country that landed a man on the moon to one which now relies upon Russian rockets to supply the International Space Station.
    That is a real measure of just how much the USA have slipped back in technological and intellectual terms.
    This story explains why.