February 17, 2010

When do Hollywood liberals favor teaching religion in schools?

When the religion is Buddhism, propounded by The Hawn (as in Goldie) Foundation and it's used "to rethink our whole approach to classroom education, integrating neuroscience with the latest social and emotional learning techniques," because "a peaceful, happy child is the first step towards a peaceful world."

Somehow the Other's religion is neuroscience, to be imposed on rowdy children to make them serene. Thanks, Hollywood liberals. You know, I can't think of one Hollywood movie about kids that had a placid protagonist. The movies always boost boisterous children. The great kids that we are encouraged to identify with are mischievous and too energetic for their stuffy teachers. If there were a movie with an aging hippie teacher character bringing nonviolence to the kids through Buddhist meditation, I'm virtually positive she would be a self-loving idiot whose was really about repression and a hostility to the vibrancy of youth. But outside of the movies, are our Hollywood friends on the side of the childish protagonists or the repressive authority figures?

95 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

and Islam.

I remember this story for example:

a school project in 2007 at Amherst Middle School transformed "the quaint colonial town of Amherst, N.H., into a Saudi Arabian Bedouin tent community." Male and female students were segregated, with the girls hosting "hijab and veil stations" and handing out the oppressive head-to-toe black garment known as the abaya to female guests. Meanwhile, the boys hosted food and Arabic dancing stations because, as explained in the article, "the traditions of Saudi Arabia at this time prevent women from participating in these public roles." An "Islamic religion station" offered up a prayer rug, verses from the Quran, prayer items and a compass pointed towards Mecca. The fact that female subjugation was presented as a benign cultural practice and Islamic religious rituals were promoted with public funds is cause for concern.

Charlie Martin said...

Sometimes being a Buddhist is a pain in the ass. First there's some clown telling you that Buddhism isn't a real religion, next its another one saying Buddhism is a religion.

Fred4Pres said...

Is the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in the "good catagory" of religion in schools? Or is channeling a 10,000 year old warrior spirit too much baggage for kids today.

TMink said...

It is interesting that the progressives are so hopeful about Buddhism. I can understand their hostility toward Christianity. The main point of Christianity is that we are sinful and incompetent and thus require God in our lives. That is the opposite of the progressive message which is we are smart and good enough to make things better.

But Buddhism is about not caring, it is about withdrawal from concerns and society. While it certainly is NOT Christianity, I fail to see any other possibilities it offers the progressives.

Trey

Fred4Pres said...

Is Althouse.com a channel like JZ Knight is for Ramtha? Let the new age healing begin!

Maguro said...

And if the Buddhism doesn't work, the next step is to take all those boisterous kids and lock them in the nearest sweat lodge.

It's like a new age version of the school on Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Matt said...

The Sixth Sense FTW.

Skyler said...

Well, this is in Britain. Do they have an establishment clause in their common law non-written Constitution?

garage mahal said...

A casual reader that didn't click the link would think there are a group of Hollywood liberals in the hundreds demanding Buddhism be taught in American public schools. When, in reality it's one Hollywood actress working with Britain's Conservative Party blessings. Isn't it time for a link to some Climate Science/UFO quack at the Timesonline.co.uk? It's been a few days since they got some Drudge/Insta love.

Paul Zrimsek said...

MR. VAN DRIESSEN: You know, this could be a positive experience for you guys. There's a wonderful world out there when we discover we don't need TV to entertain us.
BUTT-HEAD: Huh huh huh. He said "anus."

TosaGuy said...

"If there were a movie with an aging hippie teacher character bringing nonviolence to the kids through Buddhist meditation,"

That would be the teacher of Beavis and Butthead.

Juba Doobai! said...

Buddhism didn't do Tiger Woods much good, did it?

I'll take good ol' Judaeo-Christianity any day of the week.

bagoh20 said...

Buddhist societies are not exactly peaceful either, they have the unfortunate obstacle of being made up of human beings.

A demure pacifist society would be a terribly boring one and would soon be put out of it's misery by a more interesting one nearby.

The Drill SGT said...

garage mahal said...
A casual reader that didn't click the link would think there are a group of Hollywood liberals in the hundreds demanding Buddhism be taught in American public schools.


For those who did click:

The article says:The actress' Hawn Foundation already teaches kids Buddhist techniques in schools across America,


Skyler said...
Well, this is in Britain. Do they have an establishment clause in their common law non-written Constitution?


Yes, It establishes the Monarch as the Head of the Church of England and provided a religous test (basicly anti-catholic) for some offices

ricpic said...

Children: who cares if they're happy as long as they're peaceful.

AllenS said...

garage, what part of this don't you understand:

The actress' Hawn Foundation already teaches kids Buddhist techniques in schools across America

That's in the article.

Michael said...

Lefties love Buddhism for a number of reasons. First, there are the very cool Zen gardens with the very expensive-to-maintain raked gravel and the miniature trees and the nice sculptures set just so in the gravel. Next, there is the tranquility of post meditation when the nice tea cups come out and the very quiet talk about meanness and possibly George Bush begins. Then there is the soft exotic music that plays in the background of Buddhists' lives, sort of like the music you hear when you get the 90 minute massage but better. Finally, there are the great magazines devoted to Buddhism that have great soothing ads and soothing articles and reinforcement that your life is better.

Bob_R said...

Why, if we let Goldie take over our schools we will soon be as peaceful as east Asia and southeast Asia. In the immortal words of Blake Edwards, "Another roundeye bites the dust."

Bob_R said...

Why, if we let Goldie take over our schools we will soon be as peaceful as east Asia and southeast Asia. In the immortal words of Blake Edwards, "Another roundeye bites the dust."

MadisonMan said...

What are Buddhist Techniques?

garage mahal said...

AllenS
It's not what the article was about. The title of this post is pure Instapundit/Macho Response troll bait.

wv crack
haha

Jim S. said...

This is why I think all religions should be taught in schools, including where they agree and disagree with each other. You don't achieve objectivity by preventing people from expressing their perspective, you achieve it by allowing all perspectives to be expressed.

Peter V. Bella said...

They are already teaching Gaiaism. No one protests or complains.

Balfegor said...

Lefties love Buddhism for a number of reasons. First, there are the very cool Zen gardens with the very expensive-to-maintain raked gravel and the miniature trees and the nice sculptures set just so in the gravel. Next, there is the tranquility of post meditation when the nice tea cups come out and the very quiet talk about meanness and possibly George Bush begins. Then there is the soft exotic music that plays in the background of Buddhists' lives, sort of like the music you hear when you get the 90 minute massage but better. Finally, there are the great magazines devoted to Buddhism that have great soothing ads and soothing articles and reinforcement that your life is better.

And yet, Buddhism has so much more to offer. Like warrior monks and Kung Fu.

Scott said...

In the hope of learning a good way to meditate, I spent a few weekends at a Buddhist monastery in rural northern New Jersey. What I discovered was that meditation is a technique used by Buddhists to calm the inner chatter and become more connected with the world around them (and it's very effective for that!); but Buddhism does not equal meditation, any more than Catholicism equals prayer.

(During those weekends, the monks expressed a little gentle annoyance that people were coming there to learn the meditation, but that they weren't getting many converts to Buddhism!)

If Goldie Hawn wants to use her fortune to set up Buddhist schools, God bless her. This is not a bad thing socially. At least they're not madrassas.

Unlike Britain, in the United States there is virtually no public funding for religious education in primary and secondary schools, and I'm grateful for that. However, there would be nothing wrong with teaching meditation to school kids, provided that it was secularized by stripping out the religious aspect. Teaching a grade schooler how to meditate is far superior to keeping the boy or girl doped up on Ritalin.

wv: chilic, like how you are after you meditate. :)

DADvocate said...

The Great Hawn should force he partner, Kurt Russell, to only be in movies about peace, love, and harmony. They've benefited greatly from glorifying violence and need to return their ill gotten gains to the people.

k*thy said...

Basically, what Scott said. Mediation practices are found in all the major religions or it cam be practiced without any religious component. Unfortunately, the bias of the article's author is a common misconception.

Scott said...

I think this is the first time that k*thy and I have ever been on the same page on anything. :)

MayBee said...

I wonder if they spend school time teaching meditation in Buddhist countries.

William said...

I understand that there are a lot of retrograde features to the Buddhist religion that go unmentioned by its explainers in the west. You can explain Catholicism by means of St Francis of Asissi or the Spanish Inquisition. Both are native to the religion.....There are parts of Buddhism that are very appealing. Life is way too complicated to get right in only one take. I think if you gave me another three or four shots at it, I could get it right. I think a fair minded God would see the wisdom of mulligans.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"It's like a new age version of the school on Pink Floyd's The Wall."

Ha ha. I came very close to embedding that in the original post.

As for the down side of Buddhism, get Hitchens's "God Is Not Great" and find the Buddhism chapter.

I think having kids meditate and empty their minds and so forth is completely unacceptable as part of compulsory education. If we adults have the gall to force kids to be in school, we have a very serious responsibility to give them something worthwhile. Otherwise, let them go out and play. Leave those kids alone.

Balfegor said...

Religions having Vedantic and ultimately Hindu origins, including Buddhism, place great stock in orthopraxis, meaning technique and practice, as opposed to orthodoxy, meaning belief in a correct doctrine, that's emphasized by Western religions.

An interesting contrast could be drawn between Western Christian practices and Eastern Christian practices. Without my knowing much at all about Orthodox Christianity, my limited understanding of the schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the "Old Believers" sect is that it is centered almost entirely around correct performance of the rites -- the position of the fingers in making the sign of the cross, the number of loaves of the Eucharist.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Remember what happened to the young lady in Chip's museum photoshop? For their own safety, kids need to be taught not to cross Buddha.

Joe said...

Damn Buddhists; Shinto is the one correct religion!

kynefski said...

So, does anyone know of any of these "schools across America"? This sounds like press release jargon to me.

Kids in the UK already receive religious education. This foundation just provides an alternative, which is why it has the support of the Conservative Party.

Damn, she can get you guys going.

kynefski said...

Yeah, Hitchens did a great job with the Eastern traditions.

What is the reflection of a mind discarded?

I'll always remember that.

Oligonicella said...

Theo Boehm --

I agree with H.H. the Dalai Lama, when he says that "religion makes a better person," and that "no matter what religion you choose, you should practice it sincerely."

Religious people do tend to believe that.

wv: tuati - my religion.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Zrimsek said...

Kids in the UK already receive religious education.

It's just barely possible that this may be related in some way to their lack of an Establishment Clause. One of Queen Elizabeth's titles is "Defender of the Faith".

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

I can think of no institution better at emptying children's minds than American public schools. Adult seekers should forego the Ashrams and just enroll themselves in the nearest public school. They'll be empty-headed and docile in no time.

Paul Snively said...

As an old friend once said, "'New Age.' Rhymes with 'sewage.'"

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael McNeil said...

You can explain Catholicism by means of St Francis of Asissi or the Spanish Inquisition. Both are native to the religion.....

The Spanish Inquisition was a creation and tool of the Spanish Monarchy, not of the Catholic Church.

jayne_cobb said...

Paul Snively,

Exactly what accent did he have to get that to work?

Scott said...

@AA: "If we adults have the gall to force kids to be in school, we have a very serious responsibility to give them something worthwhile."

Like Ritalin.

I'm trying to find the quote ... I think it was Timothy Leary who said that because America was a materialistic society, enlightenment came to us as a material (LSD). If that's the case, then feeding Ritalin to squirmy grade schoolers makes sense. You could even say that Ritalin is an expression of American conservative cultural values.

But to say that making some instruction in meditation part of a school's curriculum amounts to teaching kids to "empty their minds and so forth" seems both ignorant and silly. Why not teach kids a little self control? It might deprive drug companies of some profits, but it would sure give kids a helpful life skill.

garage mahal said...

Einstein seemed pretty down with the future of Buddhism, and we would probably never gotten all those great Kerouac haikus. So Nippon!

traditionalguy said...

Budhism is a terrible darkness for a mind to get trapped into, and state funded teachers have no more reason teaching it than they do teaching quaint Egyptian Witchcraft Practices.

Ann Althouse said...

"But to say that making some instruction in meditation part of a school's curriculum amounts to teaching kids to "empty their minds and so forth" seems both ignorant and silly."

Oh, yeah? Then you say what it really is. I challenge you. Meditation is about sitting still and emptying your mind. You say what it is if you want to deny that. I say it's wrong to compel students to go to school, to take their time, to impose physical restraints on them, and to give them for their minds literally nothing.

edutcher said...

If you remember Laugh-In, Miss Hawn/Mrs. Russell had the persona of an airhead. Could be she's letting her inner Dan-and-Dick out again.

Ann said...

Somehow the Other's religion is neuroscience, to be imposed on rowdy children to make them serene.

Scott sort of beat me to it, but ADD is the preferred religion of the teacher unions and Ritalin is its Holy Water.

WV "hyocrege" What the Lone Ranger says when he rides Silver's body double, Crege.

Scott said...

@AA:

"Oh, yeah? Then you say what it really is. I challenge you. Meditation is about sitting still and emptying your mind. You say what it is if you want to deny that."

Wow, sorry for hitting a raw nerve.

Here's what Pema Chodron writes about the "emptying your mind" fallacy:

"Meditation isn't really about getting rid of thoughts, it's about changing the pattern of grasping on to things, which in our everyday experience is our thoughts.

"The thoughts are fine if they are seen as transparent, but we get so caught up judging thoughts as right or wrong, for and against, yes and no, needing it to be this way and not that way. And even that might be okay except that is accompanied by strong, strong emotions. So we just start ballooning out more and more. With this grasping onto thoughts we just get more caught, more and more hooked. All of us. Every single one of us."


(Continued here.)

Yeah, this whole "calming your mind" stuff is all contemptably new agey; an injection of ideas from some foreign culture into our school systems. Why bother, when we can give our kids drugs? And I would challenge you to say exactly why meditation is intrinsicly a bad thing, based on an informed opinion about what it is, but you have stated on a number of occasions that you don't respond to such challenges, so I'm keeping my expectations low. Have a nice day. :)

garage mahal said...

It's a stretch to call Buddhism, or meditation, New Agey. Buddhism predates almost every religion by hundreds of years. And many of it's central tenets were generously borrowed from.

Michael McNeil said...

Meditation is about sitting still and emptying your mind. You say what it is if you want to deny that. I say it's wrong to compel students to go to school, to take their time, to impose physical restraints on them, and to give them for their minds literally nothing.

Got to disagree with you here, Althouse. One can indeed meditate on nothing, but one can also meditate (that is, concentrate) on something, anything — as a perusal of the Yoga Sutras (see, e.g, I.K. Taimni's The Science of Yoga makes plain).

The exercises of (raja) yoga are designed to allow one to free oneself from the continual distractions that tend to perturb one's mind from successfully concentrating on whatever one wants to meditate upon. This, I think, is a valuable skill for children (and adults for that matter) to learn.

Balfegor said...

It's a stretch to call Buddhism, or meditation, New Agey. Buddhism predates almost every religion by hundreds of years. And many of it's central tenets were generously borrowed from.

There's a big difference between Buddhism as it is actually practiced in countries like Japan and Korea, where it has been around for centuries, and the way it is portrayed in the US. Frankly, I cringe in embarassment every time I hear some braying Californian talk about his (or often her) "Eastern Spirituality" or whatever. Not so much because I'm a Californian, but because, as an Asian American, I find it embarassing that people really do seem to believe Asians believe all that stuff.

Michael said...

Christmas Humphreys, great name, wrote an interesting book called "Concentration" which was a western explanation of meditation techniques. The empty mind of zen is not the same as the intense concentration that is the focus of some methods. This utter focus would not be a bad technique for young people to master as it is a wonderful aid to concentration on single topics for extended periods. Thomas Keating is a Christian writer who teaches and recommends centering prayer, a meditative technique that is far from "empty mind." Wouldn't go far in the public schools but another take on a misunderstood practice.

traditionalguy said...

Garage... New Agey refers to the oldest spiritual practices used by men to contact the evil spirit Principalities ruling in Satan's kingdom. The use of disguises as something it is not is SOP for the father of lies. The oldest stuff is called New, and an invitation to be infilled with spirits by allowing yourself a "vacant mind" is called a Relaxation Technique. This is the oldest Religious Practices known.

The Crack Emcee said...

AllenS,

The Macho Response:

Perfect Job For A Ditzy Airhead

The Crack Emcee said...

Traditionalguy,

I know many Christians are up on this stuff, but you blow me away.

I mean that.

You save me so much work.

Now if you would just learn how to swear,...

traditionalguy said...

Crack...Swearing like George S Patton, Jr. did did has its purposes to show seriousness, but staying happily married to a Christian lady has its purposes too.

gracious said...

I'm not sure I understand the point of your post. What did the news about Goldie Hawn have to do with kids in movies? The article misrepresents the truth - if you'd done just a wee bit of research. They don't teach religion in classes, rather they build curriculum around the practice of mindfulness. It's s stretch to claim Buddhism has anything to do with it. Oh, but fear sells, so go with it.

As for the bulk of your followers, there's a great Buddhist quote that is very fitting: Do not speak unless you can improve upon the silence.

Lastly, I'm not sure who the ill-informed dolt was that claimed so much understanding of Buddhist practices (musical tastes, tea drinking, and expensive gardens - WTF?) but you clearly have no idea what you're talking about. I can only assume your reply comes out of fear of not knowing. Unfortunately, your remedy appear to be to make yourself feel better by debasing others...so sad.

Synova said...

gracious, I'm hearing some hostility.

Synova said...

In any case. This is an additional problem with the "School and State" issue and why some people advocate a separation of the two.

Education is essentially ideological because it requires fitting learned facts into a framework that gives those facts meaning. It is very much about "How do I relate to the world."

On the one hand I sympathize with the goal involved and sympathize with the recognition that a "spiritual" aspect of education is missing.

On the other hand I sure don't want even a stripped down version inserted into public schools. It violates my Christian religion (which generally frowns on "empty" meditation). It also violates my secular ideology and understanding of the world and how it works and how humans relate to it to decide to pacify us.

Hasn't anyone seen the movie _Serenity_?

Peaceful children leading to a peaceful world is saccharine, to be sure, but it is also a faith and a belief system that really does not allow other interpretations.

The schools my kids (two of them, atm) are in do the same. Teaching character is a big thing, but really, someone decides what "character" is to be taught, what is to be valued. And it's all pretty innocuous, to be sure. That's not the point. The point is that it is ideology and like the exact same things that are religion based, it is teaching children (or attempting to teach them) how to be.

Let there be Buddhist schools, or any other sort. I think that I whole lot of people would go for "eastern" or other martial arts academies and the kids could learn to bonsai a tree and rake gravel and meditate and do calligraphy. Or Christian schools that weren't attempting to replicate public classrooms and required to provide practically identical curriculums with a little bit of Jesus thrown in there. Or military leadership schools like the Pinoy one here in town. Or the Wiccan day school they were trying to scare us with in California years ago. And yes, even the Muslim school.

Get the government, the public and your neighbor out of it.

And people can voluntarily support the school of their preferred ideology to provide scholarships for those parents who want to send their kids to a secular or any other school.

Ann Althouse said...

"Here's what Pema Chodron writes about the "emptying your mind" fallacy..."

Oh, spare me. That's a distinction without a difference as it applies to the point I'm making which is that it fails to meet the responsibility of what adults owe children for the restraint they impose. It's not about learning or enriching, but about calming and pacifying. It's the absence of education.

TMink said...

We used to have theories about ADHD, now we have photographs. OK, they are brain scans, but they are dramatic scans of ADHD brains as well as other normal, injured, or compromised brains.

There are about 5 people who make their living saying that there is no such thing as ADHD: They never mention the scans.

Here is the link to some of the images, long, but fascinating.

http://www.amenclinics.com/brain-science/spect-image-gallery/spect-atlas/images-of-attention-deficit-disorder-addadhd/

Trey

Scott said...

@AA

"Oh, spare me. That's a distinction without a difference as it applies to the point I'm making which is that it fails to meet the responsibility of what adults owe children for the restraint they impose."

Let me see if I understand this. Are you saying that because adults "impose" restraint on children (presumably by sentencing them to school), they owe children a compensating lack of restraint in other areas as a kind of quid pro quo?

That's lunacy to the point of depravity. Restraint -- an education in the delay of gratification and the negotiation of boundaries -- is one of the great gifts that parents give children. It's developmental psychology 101. Kids without boundaries end up as adults in jail, or in perpetual therapy, or very shy and unhappy.

Teaching kids to sit still and listen to their breathing for ten minutes in the morning isn't going to kill them. It might teach them to be aware of the world around them; that they can choose not to have their attention dragged off by some distraction; that they can enjoy it when they find themselves in a quiet space. Why in the world are you painting this as some evil and nefarious thing?

traditionalguy said...

Teaching children that their needs will be met thru breathing exercises that self control the human soul is teaching them irrational habits that are the adult's preferred opiate of the people. The Hindus and the Muslims already offer the schools $$$ to get to our children that are carefully guarded from traditional Christian ideas on origins and purposes of life.

Bruce Hayden said...

"a peaceful, happy child is the first step towards a peaceful world."

This is absurd. This is taking the feminine norm of non-physical aggression and applying it throughout the school system. What are they going to do with the boys being boys? Sedate them into peacefulness?

And how about those (big and) little disappointments in life where one is less than happy? Do we give sedatives for those too? Or just eliminate them. For example, grades could be eliminated because some kids don't do as well, and are likely to not be happy as a result. Or getting elected cheerleader. Homecoming queen. Getting the hot guy (for a girl). Getting laid (for a high school guy).

Synova said...

ADHD is absolutely real.

What it isn't is a condition that toggles... you know... on or off, so a kid either has it or doesn't have it. It's something that exists on a scale between mild and severe.

And classrooms are generally made, on purpose, to be the worst possible they can be for an ADD or ADHD child. Firstly, they try to make them as visually stimulating as possible. For "stimulating" please substitute "distracting." That's just one of the things. Simply being in a classroom itself is distracting. Something very structured is usually a benefit but teachers try to create an atmosphere without the feeling of restraints or boring rote work.

Often the other students talk, and even the teacher is always interrupting.

But a person doesn't have to have ADHD to find a classroom stifling, distracting, or unproductive. Asking children to *sit* works for some but not others. The rules aren't there and the classroom structure isn't there because that's how children learn best, it is there because it's a useful way to educate large numbers of students with as few teachers as possible.

Sometimes teachers are open to accomodating students with attention problems.

My oldest, in one of her classes, is allowed to paint during class discussions and lectures because she has convinced her teacher that she listens and retains better when she does art at the same time... it helps that she has proven this is true, but at least she had the opportunity to try to prove it.

Some kids desperately need to move, eat, chew gum, get up and walk around, bounce a ball...

In workplaces there is some research that suggests that normal people think better and produce better if they can walk on a treadmill while they work or can stand. And people are working to figure out how to reasonably accommodate that.

My husband was on Ritalin for five years and he is not sympathetic to drugging children. (Apparently there are other drugs that work better now.) As an adult he is still as ADHD as he ever was... so why is it no longer a problem?

It's because the *classroom* is unnatural.

(I did eventually realize that the overpriced popcorn I figured we could do without at a movie was important so that he could actually relax and enjoy the show without feeling fidgety and uncomfortable. I apologized for my years of unreasonable fussing about it.)

Revenant said...

I like Buddhism for the simple reason that never, in my entire life, has a Buddhist knocked on my door and bothered me on a Saturday morning when I'm trying to catch up on my reading.

Ann Althouse said...

"Let me see if I understand this. Are you saying that because adults "impose" restraint on children (presumably by sentencing them to school), they owe children a compensating lack of restraint in other areas as a kind of quid pro quo.?"

No, I am saying that during the period of physical restraint — the requirement of being in a classroom and sitting still — valuable education or other experience must be provided. You are taking something from the child, and you owe much in return. If schools aren't teaching things to children or providing opportunity for artistic expression or something else fully valuable, they are committing a moral wrong by restraining them. I am quite serious.

Ann Althouse said...

"Teaching kids to sit still and listen to their breathing for ten minutes in the morning isn't going to kill them."

Why not say the Lord's Prayer then, the way we did when I was a kid? Not seeing the Other's religion as religion is an embarrassing blindspot. You are making the kids go to school, now educate them. Don't drug them, don't require them to listen to breathing, treat them like the human beings they are or leave them alone.

"It might teach them to be aware of the world around them; that they can choose not to have their attention dragged off by some distraction; that they can enjoy it when they find themselves in a quiet space. Why in the world are you painting this as some evil and nefarious thing?"

Because all we have is our time. How dare you steal time, systematically, on a daily basis from children? Let a school be a school, and leave the spiritual training to the family and the individual.

Ann Althouse said...

If I was a kid in a classroom where they did this to me, there is no way I would think about my breathing. I would think about how much I objected to being treated this way. I would either misbehave and get punished (or drugged) or I would compose vicious essays and stories in my head, and put them up on the internet later.

Ann Althouse said...

When I was a kid we had "a moment of silent mediation." It lasted about 5 seconds, and that was too long. If it had lasted a whole minute, we'd have gone nuts. If it had gone 10 minutes... well, that just wouldn't have happened. The idea that teachers will produce calm, compliant little humanoids this way is thoroughly disgusting.

Skyler said...

Thsi is why the government should never be involved in education.

If the government got out of schools, fully 70% of public debate would be ended.

Roux said...

How about getting them to recite the times tables for 10 minutes every morning. They'd probably get more out of that.

Expat(ish) said...

Ann -

Seethe away.

My son is going from a classic education focused (what I would have called a liberal education before that word got debased) private school into a pretty poor public high school district.

But he's a smart kid and a natural born sceptic, so this sort of mugullah is hardly the worst thing they'll push on him. =He'd be fine this with fuzzy junk - probably come home and make fun of it.

I worry more about them skipping wars (WWI anyone?), the consequences of political systems (Stalinism, etc) and the real roots of the political support for the Civil Rights movement, etc.

So, net net, fake Buddhism is not my major concern. A pimple on the arse of diseased educational theories.

-XC

Charlie Martin said...

But Buddhism is about not caring, it is about withdrawal from concerns and society. While it certainly is NOT Christianity, I fail to see any other possibilities it offers the progressives.

Being a Buddhist is also a pain in the ass because so many people know so many things about Buddhism that ain't so.

Charlie Martin said...

...to give them for their minds literally nothing.

Nap time for kindergartners is Right Out then?

And gym classes clearly have Got To Go.

And recess.

It's not even clear that they're really teaching Buddhism — the actual article says "Buddhist techniques." They could be teaching martial arts (according to tradition, invented by the First Chinese Patriarch of Zen, Bodhidharma) or calligraphy.

Or they could be teaching Buddhist meditation, which consistents of quieting the mind and paying attention.

Learning to calmly pay attention doesn't sound like a bad thing.

Oh, and not to make this an appeal to authority, but I've been practicing and teaching Buddhist meditation for about 40 years, so I think I can claim some confidence that I have some idea what it is.

Akiva said...

If I dress up the Jewish chassidic religious practice of Hitbodedut, private meditative prayer-discussion with G-d, as constructive focused visualization towards realization, can I get government funding and teach it to all the Jewish and non-Jewish children in the local public school district?

Or do I need a Hollywood sponsor first to make it "kosher"?

The Crack Emcee said...

"Buddhism is a large, complex and very profound religion or practical philosophy, depending on your point-of-view."

My point-of-view says it's bullshit.

Joan said...

Nap time for kindergartners is Right Out then?

And gym classes clearly have Got To Go.

And recess.


Nap time for nearly all kindergartners is excruciating. Even 4- and 5-year-old pre-schoolers have trouble with the state-mandated naps. I let my wakeful little ones look quietly at books so the ones who need to sleep can sleep. I had tremendous sympathy for them. It's hard for a little one to be quiet for an hour.

Gym class and recess are entirely different. The latest brain research shows that physical movement doesn't just improve learning ability, it's essential to it. Downtime is also essential for learning; the more we try to stuff into their little brains, the more time they need to process it. Scheduled breaks like lunch and recess help to cement the learning that has preceded them.

You might be able to do a 1-minute meditation with elementary school kids. But anything much longer than that, and you're really going to run into trouble. Trying to teach a 6-year-old to be mindful, to pay attention when his inner speech isn't well developed is destined to be difficult. The level of meta-cognition required for this kind of activity is not present at most stages of development of elementary school students.

TMink said...

Charlie wrote: "Being a Buddhist is also a pain in the ass because so many people know so many things about Buddhism that ain't so."

Charlie, detachment is CENTRAL to Buddhism as taught by the Buddha. To quote the Four Noble truths:
"The Buddha's Four Noble Truths explore human suffering. They may be described (somewhat simplistically) as:

Dukkha: Suffering exists: (Suffering is real and almost universal. Suffering has many causes: loss, sickness, pain, failure, the impermanence of pleasure.)

Samudaya: There is a cause for suffering. (It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.)

Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. (Suffering ceases with the final liberation of Nirvana (a.k.a. Nibbana). The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving.)"

Now Charlie, your Buddhism may involve something completely different, but this is what the Buddha said. I take that as important in understanding Buddhism in the same was as I take the statements of Jesus when understanding Christianity. Your mileage may vary.

Trey

Paul Ruth said...

I think the behavior of students in America is greatly misunderstood. Too often we see these over dramatised made for tv movies with kids just responding to these innovative teachers that always are a slash as every other teacher in the building.

Student behavior starts at the home. People grow up mimicing behaviors seen in their lives. A teacher is a rather limited experience. The goal is for it to be a powerful one, and it can be. But, unless the student is willing to work half way, then the teacher is alwasy limited, no matter how positive the movie is.

(Expand the discussion at a new site, www.theneweducationnetwork.com, where we seek to open the lines of communication to better the system.)

Der Hahn said...

Boy there are some people commenting who seem to be deliberately missing point. Better apply some of those Buddhist techniques for quieting the mind and mediate on Akiva's post, which is spot on.

Joseph said...

I think meditation can be really beneficial for learning to focus, which is a valuable skill.

I don't think meditation is necessarily an example of religious practice that we should be wary of in the public sphere. I'm the least religious person I know, but I see the secular value of focus, awareness, stress reduction, all of which are potentially of great value in the school setting.

I'm also skeptical that young children can understand how to do it and appreciate why it is useful (without which, what motivation do they have to really try to concentrate?), especially if it is imposed on them unwillingly, and the teaching of it is in a big group. I tried it as a teenager in good faith but got nothing out of it. It wasn't until I tried it with a nonsprititual, scientific explanation for a stress-reduction program in my late 20s that I really understood and appreciated it. And I agree with Althouse that it is morally wrong to keep kids captive in school if you're not exposing them to real learning/expressive experiences. So, I'd leave meditation to home/afterschool/extracurricular activities.

former law student said...

The linked article says Goldie wants to set up a Buddhist school in Britain. This is not a big deal alongside the some 7000 tax-supported "faith schools" in the UK.

British faith schools breakdown (as of 2001):

Primary schools - 6,384

Secondary schools - 589

Of these, 4,716 are Church of England, 2,108 Roman Catholic, 32 Jewish, four Muslim, two Sikh, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist.

Until Labour was elected in 1997, all state faith schools were Christian or Jewish.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2001/nov/14/schools.uk2

Apparently Tony Blair -- who sent his kids to Catholic tax-funded schools -- supported the development of even more faith schools, with more diverse beliefs.

former law student said...

The fact that female subjugation was presented as a benign cultural practice and Islamic religious rituals were promoted with public funds is cause for concern.

Maybe the school district could have transformed the town instead into a 1930s Galician shtetl, with male and female students segregated in shul, girls handing out sheitels, and boys wearing sidecurl wigs and strapping prayer boxes to their heads.

The boys could start the day with their traditional prayer: "Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman." (Baruch atah [omitted]shelo asani isha.)

John Lynch said...

I don't see this as much different than all the other useless time wasting crap I had to sit through in the public school system.

Like having to take a reading class in 5th grade when I was maxing the ITBS at college freshman level and reading Tom Clancy technothrillers. It was very important that I show up and waste time reading 4 page excerpts from "The Rats of Nimh." It took a lot to make school boring for someone who loves to learn.

The public school system tries to force everyone to the mean. If you aren't there, either above or below, you suffer. Other than math and science, once I learned how to read school really was a waste of my time.

I'm glad that people see this meditation BS as obvious time wasting, a way for the teachers to get through 10 minutes without having to teach anything, but there's a lot of other waste that's more about managing children than teaching them anything. Like, how would you measure what they learn from being quiet for ten minutes? Hmm, guess you can't.

I'm really, really against all proposals to further waste the time of the young by forcing them to complete some kind of public service. Haven't they wasted enough already? Keeping teenagers and young adults away from the "real world" for a while longer does them no favors.

It's really telling that there is so much resistance every time government demands some sort of objective measurement of what children are learning. Why is that?

Big Mike said...

I don't understand why my fellow atheists aren't protesting this. Or perhaps they're not really atheists, merely anti-Christians?

former law student said...

why my fellow atheists aren't protesting this

Buddhists don't believe in God, either. So they are your fellow atheists, too.

TMink said...

I seem to remember that the Buddha said "Do not pray to me when I am dead and gone because I will be dead and gone."

That is athiestic. Now the Pure Land Buddhists have a whole different spin on things, but then they focus on a different Buddha. If I am recalling my college daze accurately.

Trey

muddimo said...

bagoh20: "A demure pacifist society would be a terribly boring one and would soon be put out of it's misery by a more interesting one nearby."


I'm going to stop reading the thread right here, it can't get any better than this statement by bagoh20.


P.S. And I am not being sarcastic. I will use this quote.

Ann Althouse said...

I realize the British don't have our separation of church and state, but that doesn't mean the separation of church and state is not an important idea. I strongly recommend it, not just in America, but everywhere.

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