Friday, a federal judge found that a California public high school history teacher violated the 1st Amendment during a lecture discussing creationism. The teacher was sued by a student who accused him of making repeated comments that were hostile to Christian beliefs. The student cited over 20 statments made during a single day of class.
My first thought was that it wasn’t a big deal. When I was in high school I had teachers who taught the Bible was simply composed of myths– myths that began in other cultures (e.g. Egyptian). Most public schools don’t treat creationism or the Bible as deserving equal respect with modern science and history. And, those who believe in the Bible should do so whether or not a public school teacher agrees.
But, then I realized that 20 statements during one class– which in high school is only a period, not a full day with one teacher– was an awful lot. If that truly happened during multiple classes, then the teacher may have been overly concerned with the concept of creationism. Even if the teacher thought he was doing the students a favor in preparation for “real” life, that was excessive.
It very well might have been enough to make a child feel bad, or at least very uncomfortable. That’s not appropriate behavior by a teacher. The teacher should have been less concerned with expressing his viewpoint and more concerned with actual teaching– maybe something out of a book for a change.