22 July 2009

A Letter to the Teacher

My six-year-old son's Term Three Junior School Newsletter came home yesterday, and as I casually read down the list of topics to be covered, I discovered that my six-year-old is about to be introduced to Evolution.

Oh dear. This is one of those public school parenting dilemmas I have dreaded, as a Christian mum. I don't want to go all freak-out reactionary but I also don't want to ignore the potential confusion that could arise from my kid being taught something that goes so strongly against what we believe. So I've drafted an email to the teacher...

Dear Miss B

I just wanted to clarify something that was on the list under Science for Term Three..."EVOLUTION: Explain how we know that some living things from the past are extinct". I understand that the children will be learning about dinosaurs and fossils... which is all fine by me (and I am sure, very exciting for them).

BUT I am worried/concerned that the children will also be taught that people "evolved" from monkeys and that all life began as a random accident.

Before you put me in the wierdo/reactionary box, can I explain that for our family, our faith is very important and personal.

We believe that all of life is unique, designed and created by a very real Designer. We believe that human beings are more than just the cleverest animals on the planet. We have faith that we get to live on when our bodies give out.

This gives us hope and helps life have meaning; it means that we try to treat others with respect because God made them and loves them and each person is valuable not an accidental collection of molecules.

I won't get too much into the science of it (I'm not a scientist, though I do read) but the Theory of Evolution is still a theory, not proven fact. The Missing Link is still missing. Of course there is adaptation of species and survival of the fittest; but there does not exist any fossil evidence of one species mutating into another.

So I would be very against my 6-year-old being taught that he's an accident emerged from primordial ooze and monkeys, when it is actually more of a philosophy than true science. I am hoping that in Year Two we won't have to face that issue already?

The faith of a child is a precious thing, something to be valued and protected. Dash (while being a typical rascal of a boy) also has a very tender and sensitive heart. He takes things in & mulls things over. Dash is already asking some pretty deep questions about God, life, and the world.

We try to answer him to the best of our ability from the answers we have found through our lifetimes so far. How else apart from a real God can we explain so many of the uncanny "miracles" that we have experienced? In the end the choice of whether he wants to ultimately follow the Christian faith will be his own... it's a personal thing, after all. But children naturally seem to know that Someone made everything that's out there.

The whole Evolution issue is going to come up time and again, I know; my issue is with how it's presented... as Scientifically proven fact (which it's not), or as one way people have of trying to explain how this amazing world we live in came to be.

This may not even come up in the topic (I hope not)... but I just wanted to raise my concerns and ask for your clarification of what will actually be covered. Sorry if I have gone on a bit!

Kind regards
Simone G

I've just sent it off. I will now nervously await her reply.
(What do you think - did I explain myself OK?)
Wow, just had a reply from Dash's Teacher already... "Thanks for your email. It’s absolutely understandable that you are concerned. We are definitely NOT going into evolution as I understand everyone has different views on this. We are sticking to dinosaurs and animal survival e.g habitat, but we will not be going any further than that. Hope this has cleared things up. If you have any other worries please let me know."

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Melinda said...

Good job, Mom!!! You're explanation was so beautiful and moving. Just perfect. I wouldn't have changed a word. I am so glad you got a quick reply from the teacher that eased your mind.

Your little guy (Dash -- I love it!) is so adorable. He is lucky to have a mum like you! ;0)

PaisleyJade said...

I think your letter was amazing and perfect... and what a great reply! Good on you! Neat to have your letter on your blog if any other parents want examples or ideas when this issue arises!

Sophie said...

Go Simoney Go! Sounds like he has a lovely teacher!

We've already run into this problem... Amelie has a good friend at school who is convinced we came from monkeys and insists rather strongly on this. We talked about it together and at the end I asked Amelie what she thought and she said she didn't think we did! I was so impressed and relieved that she is old enough to make up her own mind and instinctively know the truth. I think half of the problem is that they need to know they can make up their own minds about things and don't have to believe what other people believe!

Gail said...

Nice job Simone! Having taught in the state system, I know that a lot of it will be up to the teacher... and thankfully at this young age, the curriculum objectives are very much dinosaur bones and fossils and not evolution theory. In saying that, I think it's important for parents to think prevention rather than intervention - as it is for the school in terms of informing the home of what's coming up, rather than waiting for the child to spill the beans! It helps most importantly, the parents to plan what they can do to teach their child the truth.... and the school to make sure they don't impart information - both fact and theory, that goes against the child's home faith and culture.
As parents we need to stand on what we believe and make sure that it's not a secret to the teacher/school. In NZ I do believe we have a great education system available, but in order for us to get the best out of it for our children, parents need to be vocal and visual. It's the same as when Bible in schools is offered to all... but parents have the right to decline... we have the right to decline evolution theory being taught to our kids too.
I love the letter, the boldness, and the teachers reassurance. We all need to be ready to speak up when it's our kids turn!

I, on the otherhand, was naughty as a teacher, and told my class(es) if ever it arose, that the idea we evolved from Monkeys is a joke.....then I'd wait nervously for the parents to come and have a go at me ... which never did happen!

Sammy said...

Applause from my end!!!! Well done and well said my lovely friend!

Widge said...

Awesome Simone. You wrote wonderfully.I'll definitely refer back to this post if I ever come across this dilemma (which I'm sure is inevitable). I love how you put "before you put me in the weirdo box"..... Brilliant!!

Theta Mom said...

I'm impressed at how she quickly responded and you did the right thing...you followed your instincts. I'm such a big believer in that. I really like your blog and so I've give you an award! Come by http://www.thetamom.com to collect. :)

LIESL said...

I love that letter! That's personally one of the things that terrify me about sending my little one to school. Yet, it must happen and so we can only do what is in our control, such as writing polite, yet concerned letters to teachers.

Hope you don't mind if I add you to my reader...

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