Hnn | The Latest From HNN | Details

Humanist Teacher Spotlight: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

 

Humanist Teacher Spotlight: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

Mynga Futrell has been an educator at all levels from elementary school through the university. She has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Science Education. Paul Geisert, Mynga’s husband, has been a high school biology teacher and a professor of Zoology and holds a Ph. D. in Instructional Systems.

In 2003 they established the Brights movement with the intent of creating an Internet constituency that promotes public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystic elements; gains public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance; and educates society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such individuals.

When one thinks of Mynga and Paul, their work with OABITAR (Objectivity, Accuracy, and Balance In Teaching About Religion) toward improving public school teaching about religion immediately comes to mind.

OABITAR, whose goal is promoting academic integrity and a constitutionally sound position of religious neutrality in public education, supported both their development of the Teaching About Religion in Support of Civic Pluralism website (www.worldvieweducation.org) and an instructional module for grades 6-12, “Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History.” This latter resource contains 300+ pages of classroom-tested materials that aid teachers in including both religious and non-religious worldviews when teaching about religion in history and/or social studies. The lessons and activities foster academic neutrality regarding religion and non-religion, nurture civic pluralism, and counter religious intolerance.

OABITAR has developed guidelines on “What Makes Sense in the Public Schools.” While the main points are listed below, it also provides all too common counterparts (practices that do not make sense):

THIS MAKES SENSE: Teaching about religion, giving due academic consideration to beliefs and practices; the role of religion in history and contemporary society, and religious themes in music, art, and literature.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Conducting studies about religion in a neutral and academic way that cannot be interpreted as approximating or simulating religious activity.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Ensuring that the overall program regarding religion reflects a spirit of civic inclusiveness apropos to a democratic and pluralistic society (by teaching about religion with a view to diversity that is conducive to promoting civic harmony).

THIS MAKES SENSE: Teaching secular values such as honesty, respect for others, courage, kindness, and good citizenship.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Voicing with students your endorsement of shared civic values such as honesty, respect for others, courage, kindness, and good citizenship.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Considering, in an academic and age-appropriate manner, varied religious and nonreligious (freethought) influences on art, on music, on literature, and on social studies.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Employing music, art, literature, and drama material having religious themes as long as the material relates to sound, secular educational goals and is presented to students in an academic and impartial manner.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Allowing students to express their own religious and nonreligious views, as long as such expression is relevant to the classroom discussion at hand.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Evaluating home and classroom work by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, and against legitimate pedagogical concerns.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Teaching about the revered scriptures of any religion as literature, or about the historic influences of such scriptures within a culture, if the lesson is secular, religiously neutral and objective.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Using attribution strategies (e.g., you use such phrases as "According to the Hebrew scriptures …" or "Many Sikhs believe …") to safeguard against instilling your personal religious or non-religious beliefs.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Referring in class to concepts stated within religious documents or texts in a dispassionate "third party" manner. For example, "Adherents of ___ believe that these statements are true." Or, "____ [the religion] maintains that …."

THIS MAKES SENSE: Judging ancient writings using academically sound procedures rather than the standards of a given religion or the predominant community outlook.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Including in your planning for a wide variety of stories to be read by students, tales drawn from various faiths (as long as the selected material is presented as part of a secular program of study).

THIS MAKES SENSE: Inviting a guest speaker to augment classroom instruction and provide students a more comprehensive understanding of the tradition or worldview under study.

THIS MAKES SENSE: Using holiday themes in the context of a broader program of studies based objectively on their academic value.

Thank you to Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert, who always make a great deal of sense in describing teaching about religion objectively, accurately and balanced.

Bob Bhaerman, Ed.D., is the director of the Kochhar Humanist Education Center of the American Humanist Association.

Posted 15:55PM on August 22 2012 by Jessica Constantine
Categories: 530, Ezine

American Humanist Association

Check out what the AHA staff is watching! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertain...

6 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Here's another installment of Carl Coon’s ongoing “A Short History of Evolution”...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Five Non-Magic Words: “How Can I Help You?” Advancing the Humanist Chaplaincy h...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia C...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new affiliate, Deltona Humanist, to the American Humani...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Idaho Humanists, check out this Summer Day Camp for Kids! For more information...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out Executive Director Roy Speckhardt's new Huffpost article, Pandora's Bo...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Freedom from Religion in Kazakhstan: An Interview with Atheist Blogger Aleksand...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today is A. Philip Randolph's 125th birthday. He was the American Humanist Assoc...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Did you know about some of these official State Symbols? http://thehumanist.com...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanevangelist: Skyfall, Humanist Style by Clay Farris Naff. http://thehu...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Would you, or someone you know, be a good fit for the American Humanist Associat...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an interesting letter to the editor of The Press Enterprise. http://www...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy 271st Birthday Thomas Jefferson! Read Jefferson's wall of separation lett...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good so there are options... Happy Friday Everyone!! http://obscureinternet....

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson. http://thehumanist.com/magazine/march...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are getting ready! Are you? Register today! http://conference.americanhumani...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Inheriting the Wind by Daniel Thomas Moran! http://thehumanist.com/arts_enterta...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! What did the July/August, 1981 issue of the Humanist magazi...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good! Now we can all relax... Science is here! Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out this info-graph from the Public Religion Research Institute. http://...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: House Rules. By Luis Granados http://thehumanist.com/ne...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Another installment of Carl Coon's A Short History of Evolution. This week's top...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Matthew Bulger reports from On The Hill. http://thehumanist.com/news/nati...

8 days ago