Alternatives for those not comfortable with mythology

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by platypusok, Oct 29, 2013.

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  1. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Yeah, I won't pretend not to be biased, you definitely have me there... luckily VA's standards specifically teaching mythology, so this would never be an issue I'd run into (or at least, I'd easily end up getting my way). I just hate when people take their religious beliefs to such illogical lengths.
     
  2. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Emphasis mine.

    So you're okay with a parent raising their child how they see fit, as long as that doesn't include deciding what their child learns/doesn't learn?

    As a teacher, I don't believe I have the right to dictate what a parent allows to be exposed to their son or daughter, nor do I have any say in what the parent chooses to shield from their son or daughter.

    I do agree with you that a parent's beliefs should not infringe on the general curriculum for others. That being said, I refuse to mandate that their son or daughter learn from a certain book if there are other ways that I can address the standard with said son or daughter (provided that the parent is willing to work with me). And, as Cerek pointed out, sometimes the presentation of the proposal makes all the difference.

    I'm failing to see that if a teacher is willing to make a modification, such as dgpiaffeteach did, and the parents are willing to work with the teacher to execute the modification, why that's such a problem? Parent is happy, teacher is happy, student learns the standard.

    And gr3teacher, while you have little patience for such parents, it doesn't negate the opportunity to find an alternate approach so that the child does learn the standard. Because the question that needs to be asked is: what's more important --- our biases against a family's unwillingness to raise their children the way we see fit... or the fact that a student learns the standards?

    No teacher will ever tell me how to raise my child, and that includes shielding them from discussion in class that I don't feel meets my family's values.

    Case in point. There was recently an uproar about a book, "The Bluest Eye" being taught in high school classes. Apparently, the book allegedly goes into graphic detail of incestuous rape (and by detail, I mean anatomical descriptions abound). I started reading an excerpt and could not finish.

    This book was being taught in a high school sophomore class.

    Now, the teacher may have felt it was "legitimate literary discussion"...but you can be certain that my 15-year-old child would not be part of that discussion. And if that teacher had "little patience" for me... well, I could live with their poor judgement of me. I wouldn't lose sleep.

    My point is: although I'm not a parent... if I were, my children would be most precious to me. With that in mind, I understand where parents come from. No, I would not permit any parent to tell me how to teach my class... but in mirrored respect, I would not tell them how to raise their child.
     
  3. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Who's to say what is logical and illogical? We teachers?

    I mean...if one thinks about it... faith and logic are certainly not commonly referred to as bedfellows, right?
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    There's a big difference between teaching a book like the one you suggested and teaching something which is literally mentioned directly in the standards as something that has to be taught, at multiple grade levels and two different core content areas.
     
  5. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Agreed. This book I mentioned was on the Common Core standards list of recommended books. But that's neither here, nor there.

    But if you want to bring up the standards again, then let's not forget that it mentions the possibility of including the Bible as part of it (as the standard explicitly states). So, if a proposed modification (on which both parties can agree) had the Bible involved, it may not be considered an "illogical length"...since it is, in fact, mentioned in the standard.
     
  6. gr3teacher

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    Is the bible also listed as an acceptable alternative in the social studies curriculum (edit: with regards to Greece and Rome, of course... I'm assuming the bible already has its own role in the standards)? Is it reasonable to assume this student would be able to read bible verses in a purely literary manner (and more to the point, keep class discussion purely literary, rather than religious)? How should the teacher handle the fact that mythology would be entirely possible to show up on any type of standardized test (and... let's be honest here... would be far more likely to appear than bible verses)? How should teachers handle specific CCSS standards (eg RL4.4 and RL3.2) which require teaching mythology?
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure that a student could reasonably participate in my class (Latin) without learning about mythology.
     
  8. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    RL3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

    Note again that fables and folktales can be used in addition to myths. This standard is not limited to just mythology, or at least not limited only to stories involving mythological gods. I would assume there are other examples of fables and folktales from diverse cultures that could meet this standard.


    RL4.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

    Valid point here. It does specifically mention significant characters found in mythology.

    I realize it could be a Herculean effort to find ways to incorporate characters from other stories. After all, it is a Goliath task, but for there is a David for every Goliath we face.

    I think if a teacher could exhibit the patience of Job, they may be able to model the wisdom of Solomon to find an acceptable alternative and avoid being thrown into a lion's den of controversy.

    Of course, one must also make sure they don't exhibit the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who weren't really Egyptian rulers even though they acted like it. :D
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Cerek, I am not sure I'm understanding you. I get the impression you read the standard to mean myth OR fables and folktales. Is this correct? If so, I'm not sure how you draw that conclusion. Myths are specifically to be "recounted".

    Additionally, excellent point by gr3 in that myth references are far more likely to be on the state tests. You came up with several words or phrases alluding to the Bible, but the standard clearly says mythology. So...is the Bible mythology? Does the answer to that change based on need or convenience?
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    We are getting MILES away from answering the original question. This is a specific teacher with a specific parent with a specific complaint.
     
  11. Ted

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    I see what you did there. ;)
     
  12. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's true. I realize that the terms are all closely related, but there are some subtle differences between the three. Minor differences, to be sure, but perhaps enough to offset concerns specific parents may have.

    The previous comment claimed the standard specifically mentioned mythology must be taught and this standard was listed as an example. But we see that it is not exclusive to mythology. The teacher could choose to focus more on fables (which tend to feature animals and/or inanimate object rather than gods or superhumans) rather than myths and still meet the requirements of this standard.

    Gr3 does have a good point that more traditional figures of mythology are likely to appear on state tests. However, the entire discussion has not been that mythology cannot be discussed at all, but rather that alternatives could be offered in specific cases. I've said several times the other story could ADD to the discussion on the personal traits or life lesson being reflected in the stories, so the class could STILL discuss the traditional mythical figure and the student who read the alternative story could listen to those discussions, then offer her story and the class could then discuss how the two stories are related or similar. So I think a student can understand the meaning of "Herculean" without reading all the trials of Hercules.

    As for myths, it would need to be a veeeeery discussion to relate Biblical stories to myths when the parent is very strong in their beliefs. However, that is when it would be incumbent upon the teacher to show the full meaning of "myth", which includes the fact that "myths may arise from truthful depictions" (as per the wikipedia page). So, while the traditional definition of "myth" implies a fictional story, it doesn't have to be so. A "myth" can also be based on a truthful story as well.

    As I said in a response earlier, it doesn't really matter if the teacher feels the Biblical stories are true or not. In this case, it only matters that the parent believes they are true. So explaining that the actual definition of "myth" DOES include a basis in "true stories" may help make the parent more accepting having Biblical stories being part of other myths based on fictional stories.

    It's a fine line, to be sure, but the since the parent has already made their objections known, the best approach is to find a solution that is agreeable to the parent and teacher both while still meeting the required standards....and Biblical references are permitted as a legitimate alternative.
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That may well be true, Caesar, but the example in this discussion is focused on English L.A. rather than on foreign language.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Understood. I was just providing my input, because I thought that's what we were doing. If a parent asked for an alternate assignment in my class, it probably wouldn't work. The mythology, culture, and language are so interwoven that it would be near impossible for me to differentiate them.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aren't there translations of the Bible (and other religious works) in Latin? Many of the Catholic services are conducted in Latin as well, so there seems to be a solid connection between Latin and Biblical teachings.

    Despite that, I can see how it would be much more difficult to make such an accommodation in your curriculum.

    BTW - this is completely off-topic, but I met with the high school guidance counselor today because my middle son wants to take a virtual class on Latin next semester rather than Spanish I. Meeting with the counselor so she could explain how the online class will work was just part of the process required for my son to be considered for the class.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Latin and the Bible isn't the issue. There are obviously tons of connections there, especially considering that Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church.

    Ecclesiastical (Church) Latin is different from Classical Latin. Most public schools that have Latin teach Classical Latin. If I had to swap out a lesson in Classical Latin for a translation assignment from the Bible, it would be very difficult for students: a whole different set of vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural references. It would be an entirely different course, not something appropriate for an alternate assignment.
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    All of my responses have been based on offering an alternative I felt might be acceptable to the specific parent in question. For every argument presented against offering that specific alternative, I feel I have provided a legitimate counter-argument that is both justified by accepted classroom practices and supported by the Common Core standard(s) involved.

    It's true the discussion has grown a bit and expanded to include the possibility of changing the name and/or overall focus of such a unit in an attempt to avoid these types of objections in the future, but that is just a logical expansion that is still based on the specific incident that began the discussion. :)
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It says 'and', not 'or'. Our state test for grade 3 last year featured a fable. It could have easily included a myth or folktale. My students not only were thoroughly engaged in this unit, but were also well prepared for related questions on the standardized assessments.

    But then again, a parent could refuse to have their child Take the state test as well.
     
  19. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I understand your point, Cerek; however, even listening to the class discussions on mythology would open up the student to topics that her parent does not want her to be a part of in the first place.
     
  20. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That is a valid concern. Would the parent expect the student to be sent elsewhere during class discussion to do independent study?
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    And if this parent forces the teacher to do this, wouldn't that be taking the child out of his/her LRE?
     
  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I read the standard to very clearly require the teaching of mythology AND fables AND folktales.
     
  23. Cerek

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    But the unit isn't called "folklore and fables". It's called "mythology", so that suggests an emphasis is being placed more on one than the others. Given that, my suggestion is to simply change which area carries the most emphasis in the label of the unit and focus of the lessons.

    So far, the topic of this discussion has focused almost exclusively on stories of mythology and why it is so important they be included and taught. I've not seen any arguments stating an equal importance in reading and discussing Aesop's Fables or tales of folklore. So, again, it seems fairly obvious that, even though the standard clearly mentions all three areas, one of those areas is receiving more emphasis than the other two. So the simple solution would just be to shift the emphasis to one (or both) of the other two in an effort to avoid (or at least minimize) future objections.
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I would assume there is another unit. Units are just how one teacher is covering the material and standards. I teach these these things separately.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The focus has been on mythology because that's the content about which the parent in the OP's post had objection. I can imagine districts where anthropomorphism such as exists in fables would be just as objectional to some parents.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yes, I have experienced this.
     
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