February 25, 2011

monkey see, monkey do

As has been mentioned before, I am a science teacher.

I like science ... I think I always have.

I like the concept of using evidence to support a claim.

I like to think logically.

I like to problem solve.

But, by the same token, I am a spiritual person.

I believe in a Higher Power and that everything happens for a reason.

That what goes around comes around.

I say all this because, from my current experiences, being both scientifically minded and religious is something of an oxymoron.

It is unheard of.

It is an either/or situation ...

Certainly not both at the same time!

As a teacher (more specifically, a Biology teacher), I am entrusted with educating my students according to the state standards and curriculum that I am given. This semester, part of that curriculum involves the theory of evolution ...

Now, I could ramble on all day long about there is nothing "evil" or "anti-God" about evolution. How a scientific "theory" is a well-supported body of evidence. How it is no less important (or any less "proven") than a scientific law. I could rant and rave about how the statement "it's just a theory" boils my science-teacher blood. Or how species are constantly evolving and adapting to the changing, chaotic world in which we live ...

But you get the idea.

I'll spare you.

While I do believe in God, I agree with (I hate to say "believe in") the scientific claims described in the theory of evolution ... So, it is very difficult for me, when speaking with parents, to hear them say things like:

"I'll just tell my son that what you're talking about in class is all a fairy tale. He knows that God created the world exactly as it is today."

This not only gets me wondering, as a teacher, if I can truly do my job and educate some of my students (especially if they are being told that the material is all lies) ... It also makes me wonder about just how I want to raise Malcolm when it comes to matters of spirituality and belief.

I mean, we currently attend Catholic mass every Sunday. We read children's books about Jesus and virtues and other faith-related themes. We try to live our lives and show Malcolm, by example, what it means to be a "good person."

Obviously, I am teaching my son about religion and faith at an early age.

The Catholic sacrament of Marriage is performed for just that reason ... To produce children and bring them up in the faith, thereby keeping it alive. But, at the same time, I don't want to shelter him from other ways of thinking. I don't want Malcolm to be the ignorant kid that blindly follows me, his mother, because "I told him so."

I want him to ask questions about everything, to educate himself, and ultimately make his own decisions ...

But what if the decisions that he makes are not the same as what I want for him?

What if they deviate from what I believe to be true?

Can I handle that?

Would I consider that a failure on my part?

All of these thoughts are currently swirling around my head ... And the kid is only a year old! He hasn't even said his first word yet, let alone decided if he thinks evolution is a "fairy tale" or a reality ... Or if he believes in the same God that I do.

As I compose this post, I know that there is no easy answer to my dilemma.

While, on one hand, I want my son to follow my lead and example, I also want him to take ownership of his own beliefs. I want him to inquire about science, religion, everything and to know that it is okay to ask tough questions ...

That sometimes a situation resides in a hazy gray area with no boundary between right and wrong.

That sometimes it's not a matter of "either/or," but rather "both/and."

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