While I am not a supporter of Intelligent Design I find their pedagogy compelling. Their argument is beautifully articulated in three words: Teach the controversy. ID may or may not be true (OK, let me honest, it isn’t true), but the controversy it creates is. We owe it to our children to teach them all sides of an issue. So, regardless of its scientific merit, teachers should teach the controversy.
I find this argument convincing, and would like to see it applied to all areas of education, public and parochial. For example, there is as much history behind Holocaust Denial as there is science behind Intelligent Design. I think our history teachers should teach the controversy over whether or not the Holocaust ever happened.
Similarly, there are many people who believe that slavery was good for the Africans brought over to this country. Compare the lifestyles of most African Americans today to that of their contemporaries in Africa. Had their ancestors not been slaves African Americans would not be where they are today. So, slavery was a good thing. Teach the controversy.
And then there is the controversy over the Civil War. The struggle had nothing to do with freeing enslaved human beings and everything to do with states’ rights to treat people any way they damn well pleased. Teach the controversy.
Homosexuality, oral sex, condom distribution in classrooms, clean needle programs, and abortion are all controversial issues. Rather than takes sides, our schools should teach the controversy.
And why stop at public schools? I think churches should teach the controversy over God and atheism. After all evolution is at least a theory while God is only a belief. There are alternatives to God and alternative gods to any religion’s position. Christians should be taught the controversy and given a chance to switch to Islam or Hinduism or Wicca.
There certainly is a controversy between Judaism and Evangelical Christianity over whom God loves the best. The Jews still claim to be the Chosen while Southern Baptists (to cite but one example) believe God has switched allegiance to them. We cannot know for certain who is right? Teach the controversy.
There is no end to keeping an open mind. It is certainly preferable to nurturing an empty one. At least I think so. Teach the controversy.