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← Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Richard Dawkins

Halfway through, she noticed a girl crying.

“The girl was so upset — she was sitting in the dark bawling,” says Mickie Pemberton, the assistant principal at McKnight Middle School in Renton, Washington, a diverse suburb 12 miles from downtown Seattle. “She said she couldn’t watch the video anymore — that it went against everything she believed.”

I too caused a girl to cry, for the same reason, when I made a cameo appearance in a classroom at a small university in America earlier this year. I felt remorseful at the time, but afterwards I thought about it and remorse turned to anger. Anger at the girl's stupid parents. Anger at the girl herself for being so weedy. What the hell did she think a university was for, if not to encourage her to think in new and unfamiliar ways, going beyond what she was exposed to when living with her ridiculous family? I didn't in any way insult the girl herself or say unpleasant things about her or her family. I didn't even tell her to grow up, although I should have. All I did was lay out the facts of evolution and the evidence for it, in unemotional, scientific terms. And that was enough to make the little fool cry.

The story above is about a school, not a university but, even so, what a pathetic little idiot. All remorse having left me, I now think the undergraduate I encountered thoroughly deserved her self-imposed distress, and it sounds to me as though the teacher in the present case was bending over backwards, further than she should, to be nice and accommodating.

Richard

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 11:42:39 UTC | #946108