Parents, Children, and Community
Whose interest rules?
One of the narratives circulating in the news these days is parents claiming absolute rights to the information their children learn in school.
They claim the right to prevent teachers from talking about things like race, gender, sexuality and history. They claim the right to limit the books in libraries.
But parents aren't the only ones with an interest in children. The community has an interest too. I never had children. But children grow into adults. I want the adults around me to be well informed about reality. I want the adults around me to understand the scientific world view.
I support public schooling for all children so they understand the common ideas in the community.
I understand that parents need to teach their children their own world view. It's a part of being a loving parent. And that sometimes there will be a tension between what children learn from their parents and what they learn from school.
That tension should be a motivation to resolve it.
Some parents try to avoid that tension by homeschooling. I can see a thread where the anti-vax movement grew out of that homeschooling community.
The situation is like this.
On the one hand, parents have the job as individuals to raise children as best they can into happy and capable adults. Its a hard job. Parents have responsibilities to their children that others don't have. Parents need rights towards their children that others don't have.
On the other hand, the community needs the emerging adults to function well in their society. The adults should be literate and numerate and understand science and the communal history. They should be law abiding and honest. These are capabilities that we should expect all adults to have.
One of the capacities that adults should have is the ability to accommodate people with different beliefs.
This is often easier than it seems.
I'm an atheist but there is no reason I can't accommodate Christian symbols like a creche at city hall. I don't have to draw the line separating church and state there.
Same with marriage. Perhaps it would have been better to leave the term to religious people and have a different term for civil unions that aren't based on religion with the same rights. Perhaps we should have respected the baker who didn't want to help celebrate a same sex union.
A major accommodation from religious people has to be to explain the tension between public education and religious education to their children.
What do you think?