Alberta has decided to make education optional

This is absolutely insane:

A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality.

The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of “subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation,” is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals. Parents can ask for their child to be excluded from the discussion.

The first thing to notice, is that regardless of what people like Science Minister Gary Goodyear, religious cranks or Alperta Premier Ed Stelmach claim, evolution is not a religious issue. It is a scientific issue. The fact that it contradicts a literal interpretation of some religious texts doesn’t change that fact. End of story.

I think PZ Myers sums up the absurdity nicely:

The province of Alberta has decided to make education optional. If there’s something in the real world that you don’t like, such as that you evolved from other apes, or that gay people exist, or perhaps that understanding the motion of bodies requires some of that difficult math stuff, students will be allowed to close their eyes and plug their ears and pretend those uncomfortable complexities don’t exist. How sweet! And then they can graduate without ever learning anything new, and go on to be ignorant voters who will no doubt continue the trend of dumbing down everything.

This is a very stupid move by stupid people that will produce more stupid people.

It neglects a fundamental property of education: that in order to learn, you have to be exposed to many new and sometimes difficult ideas. We teach about subjects that no one thinks are good, because you need to know about them to have an informed opinion. The Holocaust was horrible and painful — shall we allow children to avoid exposure to it? Fundamentalist parents may gnash their teeth in fury at the very idea of evolution — but how can they disagree with it rationally, if they don’t even know what it is?

Somehow we’ve acquired this bizarre notion that learning is about being eased along, never stressing ourselves, never facing a challenge. We’ve mistaken education for an exercise in affirmation. And now Alberta wants to enshrine that idea in their educational system.

Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.

Regardless of what anyone claims Canada does have a real creationism problem, and it behooves us all to nip it in the bud.

4 thoughts on “Alberta has decided to make education optional

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  1. No, it has merely been proposed. But it has the support of Premier Ed Stelmach and the provincial conservatives so it seems likely to pass… unless of course enough sensible Albertans raise a big stink over it, but I am not holding my breath.

  2. Sigh! I can still remember when I read this and thought it could never happen here!

    What ever happened to Fafblog anyway?? We need Gibletts!!


  3. Well to be fair what Alberta is proposing is not nearly as scary as what Florida was tinkering with in 2005. Still Alberta’s plan is more than scary enough to warrant outrage at the government for even contemplating such stupidity.

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