No View from Nowhere

No View from Nowhere September 11, 2018

In pulling together the various quotes and links in my recent post about activism among theologians and academics, I also found a number of connections with the teaching side of what academics do. What Paulo Freire highlighted in relation to the classroom (50 years ago this year!) applies all the more to academic research: if one can still sometimes encounter banking-style distribution of tidbits of information in a classroom, research by definition is about problem solving and thus about changing the world in some way. To the extent that we can integrate active learning and problem solving in the classroom throughout students’ educational experience, the more likely we are to avoid having them simply accept claims on authority, instead understanding and hopefully balancing the need to rely on the expertise of others and the fallibility of every human process, with honesty, openness, and collaboration as the best counterbalances to our individual and collective shortcomings. And the more likely they themselves are to become curious investigators of the world who seek not only to understand but to change it for the better!

Also touching on the subject of our inability to deal with perspective-free impersonal facts in the classroom – even the science classroom – was the BioLogos article by Anna van Dordrecht from which this excerpt is taken:

Often high school science is approached as a set of facts to be learned, and little attention is paid to how we developed any of that knowledge. But the story of science is the story of real people who lived in specific times and cultures, had personal victories and tragedies, and grappled with the historical events surrounding them. Some of them achieved success in their lifetime, some were met with skepticism and ridicule, and some literally changed the world without ever knowing they’d done so. Hearing these stories and understanding that the work of a wide, diverse group of people has led to our current reality changed the way students approached science. It also provided them with relatable examples and inspired confidence that they could be scientists themselves. Researching and preparing the stories, while time consuming and a struggle on top of a very full schedule, made me a better science teacher as well. I had a lot of content knowledge, but through People to Ponder I began to connect the subjects I taught and develop a cohesive story of human investigation that my classes could engage with.

 

"So would you rather people go hungry and try to rob others or give them ..."

It is Better to Live with ..."
"A human shouldn't "sell" himself. That is contrary to the inherent worth of every human. ..."

It is Better to Live with ..."
"Try to actually read scripture than to use it for wrong purposes."

It is Better to Live with ..."
"Nope it only supported slavery that dealt with people selling themselves into slavery. Why do ..."

It is Better to Live with ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John MacDonald

    Some of them achieved success in their lifetime, some were met with skepticism and ridicule, and some literally changed the world without ever knowing they’d done so.

    – Sounds like Jesus

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Most of the opposition they met with was from religions; another reason to get rid of them.

    • John MacDonald

      ? In your comment, does “them” refer to “they,” or “religions?” – Polysemia

      • Ivan T. Errible

        “Them” refers to religions.

        • John MacDonald

          But religion offers so much hope/peace for so many …

          • Ivan T. Errible

            As do thorazine and luudes and hashish and booze and….

          • John MacDonald

            If religion is just superstition and delusion, so what? It brings my 90 year old Catholic grandmother hope and peace, so I encourage her in it even though I am secular. And who knows, Catholics might be right? Who am I to nominate myself “worldview arbiter?”

          • Ivan is irritable tonight!!

          • John MacDonald

            Anti-theists baffle me. Religion has the potential to do so much good in people’s lives. Sure there are always things to be improved on, but why throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s coexist!

          • There are reasons and wisdom. One may never know for sure… Carl Jung talks about balance of the conscious the unconscious and the collective unconscious in human beings. Ivan’s irritability is probably a manifestation of addiction to alcohol and or other substances. addiction. I think he may be an alcoholic. His rants appear regularly here and on other blogs I think. He gets lonely. He is profoundly disconnected MHO. Alcoholics are cunning, baffling and Powerful, they Play Mind Games as a default to having relationships. Do you have any alcoholics in your family or friends? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a385fb1f5faad804f8106205dabc4c91cc50de31ea93477df79f8112db2cb9e3.jpg

          • TinnyWhistler

            Ivan’s just trolling. He wanders around leaving bait trailing behind him hoping someone will bite at it and get hooked into an argument. That’s his entire MO.

          • Ivan T. Errible

            you could buy her a bottle of Ripple and it would have the same effect.

          • David Evans

            I don’t see much peace for those abused by Catholic priests or in the Magdalene Laundries. Or for the family of Savita Halappanavar. Or for the victims of Al-Qaeda and IS. Or for those who contracted AIDS because of the Catholic stance against condoms. I could go on and on.

          • John MacDonald

            I’m not sure what your point is? By analogy with your example, should we also indict atheism for the atrocities committed by godless Marxists? Even leaving atheism out, should we even indict Marxism?

          • David Evans

            I am pointing out that even if religion brings your grandmother hope and peace, there are also downsides to it. As it happens my grandfather was a Marxist all his life, and believing it gave him hope for the future. He was slow to admit the crimes of the Stalin regime, as many Catholics have been slow to see the crimes of their church. Your “If religion is just superstition and delusion, so what?” ignores those crimes. You would not, I suppose, accept it if I said “If Marxism is false, so what?”

            Marxism must accept some responsibility for the vision of the future which allowed Stalin to flourish, though I do not think Marx would have expected or welcomed what happened in Russia. He expected the revolution to start in the industrial West, where the outcome might have been quite different.

          • John MacDonald

            There are very many wonderful things about Catholicism. There are also areas that need to be addressed. Catholicism is a beacon of light for many around the world.

          • David Evans

            I’ll tell you what really got my goat recently. The Catholic Church claims to speak with unique authority on matters of faith and morals. They have had two thousand years to get their act together. But only a few years ago a bishop was defending the church’s failure to act strongly enough on paedophiles in the church. He said (I’m quoting from memory) something like “That was 20 years ago. We didn’t understand the nature of paedophilia then”.
            After two thousand years! What other important things about human nature have they failed to understand?

            Also there are things like this:
            “Father Thomas D. Skotek raped an underage girl, got her pregnant, then paid for her abortion. His Bishop later said, “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” That letter was addressed to Skotek, not his victim.”
            from
            http://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/08/15/here-are-the-worst-abuses-by-catholic-priests-from-the-pa-grand-jurys-report/
            where there is much more if you have the stomach for it.

            Why do I think that they will only address those areas when they are forced to?

          • John MacDonald

            After two thousand years! What other important things about human nature have they failed to understand?

            Some times it takes a very long time for groups/individuals to learn how to behave in a compassionate, consistent ethical manner. Consider the treatment of women and Blacks historically in America. As you say, clearly pedophiles should be condemned and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

          • David Evans

            That’s true. Humans are fallible in many ways. As an atheist I’m not surprised when nations or institutions do bad things. But when an institution which continues to do bad things claims moral authority in ways that affect the rest of us, I object.

          • John MacDonald

            But when an institution which continues to do bad things claims moral authority in ways that affect the rest of us, I object.

            And governments don’t claim the moral high ground -e.g., “We hold these truths to be self evident…” ? Incidentally, claiming something is self evident is a kind of dogma (metaphysics of presence, as Derrida called it) because it’s another way of saying no argument is being provided to ground the “self-evident truths.”

          • David Evans

            “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal…”. It’s a declaration of their reasons for wanting to leave a distinctly unequal system. And they followed through by creating a democracy, in which the common people have regular opportunities to change their leaders. I can forgive them a rhetorical flourish at the beginning of such a document. And to establish a democracy is not to claim moral authority.
            You could have chosen better examples of authoritarian government. Some of which, I admit, are worse than the Church. But the Church ought to be held to a higher standard than that.
            By contrast the common members of the Catholic Church have no way of influencing their leaders. All they can do is disobey, which they do in large numbers over the issue of contraception.

          • Nick G

            And they followed through by creating a democracy

            Up to a point, Lord Copper. By no means all white men had the right to vote in the early USA, let alone women or people of other races. The Constitution entrenched slavery, and one of the main reasons for declaring independence was to remove constraints on the theft of land from the Indians which Britain had imposed (for selfish political motivations). The War of Independence was a falling-out among thieves more than anything else.

          • John MacDonald

            I can forgive them a rhetorical flourish at the beginning of such a document. And to establish a democracy is not to claim moral authority … You could have chosen better examples of authoritarian government. Some of which, I admit, are worse than the Church. But the Church ought to be held to a higher standard than that…By contrast the common members of the Catholic Church have no way of influencing their leaders. All they can do is disobey, which they do in large numbers over the issue of contraception.

            You don’t think America claims moral authority by looking down on countries that interpret Society different than they do? Perhaps you need to re-watch “Team America: World Police.” Anyway, so your point is that Catholicism in general isn’t that bad, but there are some bad apples tainting the bushel that need to be held to a more rigorous standard of justice. And, like any religion, if people dislike aspects of Catholicism, they can simply be Cafeteria Catholics picking and choosing what they want to adhere to, or just leave the religion entirely. Makes sense to me!

          • Nick G

            There are very many wonderful things about Catholicism.

            Such as? And do they outweigh the appaling authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism, persecution of “heretics” and “heathens”, corruption, hypocrisy, systematic concealment of the sexual abuse of children… I don’t think so.