God, Darwin, and Sturgeon Heights School Division | The Socjournal

Ah school. Frolicking days of care free learning in positive and loving environments right? Guess again. Schools are contested grounds and parents, administrators, and teachers struggle to find equitable, democratic, and positive ways to raise the next generation of citizens. But what does that entail? Better yet, what do we want to teach our children? Do we want to teach them love, acceptance, and tolerance, or do we want to model judgment, punishment, and disdain. Children learn by watching what the adults do so as adults we should be careful what we do to our children.

You know, I believe in God. There, I said it. I do. I believe in consciousness, and I believe in Spirit, and I believe in The Fabric and I believe there is something else other than the empty material universe that the atheists like to espouse. I also, for the record, believe in evolution because the evidence says its true, and I don’t think the two are incompatible. In fact, I think the two can work together, even live happily in the same room. So I often don’t get what the fight is about.

Brain pain the same for ego blow, physical punch

WASHINGTON (AP) — To a part of the brain that registers pain, the distressful reaction from social rejection if just as great as from a poke in the eye, according to researchers who measured the neural reactions of people who thought they had become outcasts in a game.

In an experiment at UCLA, researchers monitored the blood flow in the brains of people who had been led to believe that other players in a computer ball game were intentionally excluding them and refusing to let them play with the group.

The shock and distress of this rejection registered in the same part of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex, that also responds to physical pain, said Naomi I. Eisenberger, a UCLA researcher and first author of the study appearing this week in the journal Science.
(read more).

Having said that, however, I need to also say, I don’t believe in everything. I don’t believe there is a devil, for example. I don’t believe there’s some evil guy out there going to burn you in hell for making a mistake or two. I also don’t believe in “karma.” I don’t think the universe is one big prison cell where the bad “go down” and the good “go up” [in birth]. I also don’t believe in the  “father” god or the “mother” earth. I believe that, as humans, we have to grow up and take responsibility. Also, and I’ll be honest, I have a particular problem with any representation of “god” as some punishing sociopath  who forcibly isolates, confines, shames, and then mutilates and burns his own children just for making a mistake, but whatever.  I also believe in freedom of belief and I think you can believe whatever you want and teach your children whatever you see fit. So, if you feel its OK to teach your kids that God’s gonna get them, or that the universe is an empty shell devoid of consciousness, or that it is OK to forcibly confine and torture people, go right ahead. Just keep my children out of it, and don’t punish them for believing something different.

So, the question a lot of you reading must be asking now is, why I am saying this? Well, let me tell you.  This morning I learned that my children are going to be forcibly excluded and stigmatized [read story] because we believe differently than some parents at a recent school board meeting. It doesn’t matter what our beliefs happen to be because nobody cares. It is only important that we don’t believe the same way as those parents at the meeting and for that, my kids are going to have to pay. They are going to be punished, basically.  They are going to taken out of their classroom for a few minutes every morning, excluded from morning observances, and locked away in a room with the other “infidels” where they will all have to struggle with the subtle feelings of dirty shame that are going to result from what a senior panel of Canadian judges ruled way back in 1988 was a discriminatory, exclusive, coercive, and stigmatizing practice that denies fundamental charter rights.

Now, you’d think this would be a problem for the people running the system, but it is not. As Terry Jewell of Sturgeon Country School Division says, this is just the reflection of “parental choice.” After all, democracy rules. And besides, the school lawyers checked some words written in the Alberta Constitution and concluded there was nothing in that that said it was morally wrong, or ethically suspect, to exclude, stigmatize, coerce, and deny fundamental charter rights to our children. So, it is all good.

But honestly, I gotta say, as a parent I’m not a happy camper this morning because now I’m going to have to find another school to send my children to, or I’m going to have to home school them, or maybe set up a charter school outside the system, or perhaps drop them off at school a few minutes late every morning because frankly, I’m not going to expose my kids to reoccurring  “morning abuse.” I want them to grow up healthy and feeling good about themselves, I want them to show respect for others and their beliefs (even if they think they are wrong), and I never, ever, ever want them to think its OK to take people who are different in any way and forcibly isolate and exclude because, as the research demonstrates, that hurts. And if you think I’m over reacting, check out this UCLA MRI Stud that demonstrates that social exclusion and isolation is experienced in the brain in exactly the same way that physical pain is. I mean, as a parent, would you want your kids poked in the eye first thing every morning at school?


If you happen to be a parent in St. Albert, Alberta, and your kids go to Sturgeon Heights School, and you want to explore some alternatives (like pooling resources and hiring a lawyer, thinking about a home school program, or a car pool that drops the kids off a few minutes late in the morning, or a charter school), contact us.

Discussion Questions.

  • What is the nature of democracy? Does democracy presume tolerance and inclusion>
  • What are the psychological and emotional consequences of exclusion? What do children learn when the authority figures cart them off from their peers and isolate them by themselves?
  • Do children have charter rights and is majority rule a justification for denial of charter rights?
  • Discuss what you believe to be the psychological and emotional consequences to exclusion, discrimination, and coercion. Do you have personal experiences? Share them.

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