Public Religious Literacy in Secondary and Post-Secondary Education

, , 1 Comment


SPEAKER 1: It is a really great
pleasure, for me personally, and for [INAUDIBLE]
program to welcome Diane Moore of Harvard Divinity
School to join us today. Professor Moore is Director
of Religious Literacy Project at Harvard, as well as a Senior
Lecturer in Religious Studies and Education, and
a Senior Fellow at the Center for the
Study of World Religions. Her work on religious studies
and secondary education is internationally acclaimed. She has chaired the American
Academy of Religion’s Task Force on Religion
in the Schools, and serves on a US State
Department task force, actually I’m not sure
if this is up to date. DIANE MOORE: No. SPEAKER 1: Served on a
US State Department– DIANE MOORE: That
ended January 21. SPEAKER 1: Ah, yes indeed. Served on a US State
Department task force to enhance
training about religion for Foreign Service and other
State Department employees. She’s the recipient of multiple
awards for teaching excellence, and for the promotion of
public religious understanding. Please join me in
welcoming Diane Moore. DIANE MOORE: Thank you. It is just an
incredible privilege to be here, so thank
you for the invitation. And he’s a master
behind the scenes. It takes a lot of
work, all the details, so I want to thank
you especially, Aaron. Lovely. And I love these opportunities
to talk about teaching, so it’s a real honor for me. I look forward to
our conversation. So let me tell you
a little bit more about me to help shape
the conversation I’d like to have us have together. Aside from the work I’ve
been doing at Harvard, I did have the
[INAUDIBLE] privilege of actually being a secondary
school teacher at Phillips Academy for 20 years. While I was writing
my dissertation, I went for a sabbatical leave
[? for replacement ?] for one year and ended up
staying for 20 years because I found
that age group to be able to talk with and teach
with them around fundamental [INAUDIBLE],, which
is what we get to do and [INAUDIBLE] to be
phenomenally satisfying. It’s the combination
of the fact that they are coming into their own
self-identity at a really critical time. And then also,
the fact that they don’t put up with any bull. It’s like, if you’re
not authentic, if you’re not honest with them,
they dis you within seconds. And I think there’s something
refreshing about that. And it really, I think
calls out the best of us in relationship to teaching. And I have that experience
to thank for many insights that I bring to
questions around teaching broadly, and specifically,
that age group. But I think much of
what I’ve learned from that age group I think is
relevant in everything I do. And so I currently teach– almost exclusively I
teach graduate students, although I do occasionally
teach undergraduates. And I frankly miss teaching
secondary students. For several years I
was teaching both. I was both in fact– don’t do this. You might find yourself
in a situation to do it, but I was full time at
Harvard and full time at Phillips Academy [INAUDIBLE],,
which is not healthy. Except they were both
really powerful experiences. So here’s my plan,
but we can adapt it if it doesn’t feel like
it will be useful to you. If you wouldn’t
mind, in a moment I’m going to go around
and ask you just to tell me who you are
so I know who you are and get a sense of your
interests, your backgrounds, and your own areas of study. What I’d like to
do is talk to you broadly about the challenges
that we’re currently facing in public life
now, in the US especially. I think what’s
happening in relation to the rise in the election
of President Trump is somewhat unprecedented,
but it’s also not, in itself, the biggest concern. I was concerned, and
I suspect many of you were in [? tune with ?]
the tenor of the election itself in the manner of what
the results ended up being. I think it’s a really critical
and important time for any of us who are in the academy. But I think those of us
who are in the academy, who are any way related to the
academic study of religion, I think this is a really
crucial time for us to rise up and be
public influentials. I can’t emphasize it enough. So some of what I’m
going to be talking about is going to be that. It’s going to be about the
nature of what it means to be a spokesperson
around the critical nature of religious literacy and in
the context of a backdrop, not just of a
political situation, but a backdrop of a lack
of just the fundamental misunderstanding of
religion, which I know is not news to any of you. So it’s a really
interesting question. It’s not just what do you
say, how do you teach, but it’s how do
you anticipate how people are going to hear what
it is that you’re talking about. And more fundamentally–
and I’m going to ask you to consider
this in a moment. I think it’s really going
to be important to identify, in a name for yourselves,
for ourselves, what is the purpose of teaching itself? What is justification,
aside from content delivery? And I suspect all of us
love our content, right? That’s why we’re here. There’s something
that we just get really animated about
the nature of what we have the privilege of studying. I think the stakes are too
high for us to only live in being excited
about the content we teach because I think
now it’s also about helping to translate not just content,
but a way to understand religion. And now a way to
understand religion that we have to be able to be
persuasive about why people should care. It’s not just about
learning content. So that really brings me back
to a deeper and more fundamental question about why do we teach? And that’s a
question I used to– the reason I was both at
Phillips Academy full time and also at Harvard full time. I had the privilege
for 10 years, the last 10 years actually, of
a 35 year program where we had, literally, [? a mini-ed ?]
program at the Divinity School. So our masters
students could get licensed to teach
in public schools in middle and secondary
levels in all the disciplines except the maths. So it was the sciences,
the humanities and the social sciences,
and all languages. We were partnering with
the Department of Education and we were like an ed
school masters program, but we had the privilege
of our students graduating with an academic degree, as
well as a licensure to teach. And they also had
then the expertise to teach about the ways
religion are integrated into those disciplines. So that was my
[INAUDIBLE] privilege. And in 2008 the program got
cut because of the recession. So the Religious
Literacy Project is the successor to that
program, essentially. And we’ve expanded it now to
look at other professions too, because what we
learned about, what does it mean to work with
teachers to translate complicated ideas to a
general audience, which is what secondary middle and
secondary school teachers have to do. It’s really the
same set of skills of what it means
to help translate the complicated
ideas of religion to professions and to a
general public that also are a general audience and
have certain assumptions about religion that
are problematic. So it’s that context that I’m
going to be speaking to you and look at and offer
in ways that I hope will be useful frameworks for
how to think about religion, but then also, understandings
about what is at stake for us in this. And so I hope this will all
be [? gleeful ?] to you. And again, to the extent
that this turns out to be– the directions I’m
going to go are not that useful, there are so many
things we can do here. So I would love to
take your [INAUDIBLE].. So I’ll read the room and
see if this is helpful. Otherwise I would
really love to entertain if there are more specific
things you’d rather focus on, I’m happy to do that. But I will start by giving
you a basic overview. I know that there were some
suggestions to reviewing something ahead of time. How many of you had
a–it’s really OK if you didn’t, but how many of you
had a chance to read that? OK, about half of you. I thought so and so I will
review that quickly and give you an outline so I won’t
do it in too much detail for those who did
read it, but for those who didn’t get a chance to. Great. This is fabulous. I’m so glad to have a mix up of
masters and doctoral students. That’s great. I do remember, so
let me jump in here. So the use of the
internet, another project that I’m involved in and
actually surprised myself. I decided to run a MOOC,
Massive Open Online Course through HarvardX. And I started it
because I hate MOOCs. And I thought I better know
what I’m talking about, if I hate them so much,
I better actually know what I’m saying and see if my
anxieties about them are true. And I have really
turned the corner on it. I’m really excited
about this platform. I have concerns about how
it’s going to be used, so there is a moral and
ethical set of questions about how institutions
will use MOOCs, coming out of places like
University of Chicago, or Harvard, or Stanford. But the actual
platform itself, I organized a group
of colleagues and we taught a course
called World Religions Through Their Scriptures. It’s six modules
The method that we practice in that module
you’re going to learn today and that’s what keeps
the consistency for that. And we flip it so it’s
not a lecture based but it’s a discussion based on
a massive open online platform. We’ve had over 140,000
people have participated in this from 183 countries. And I can talk more about
that if you’re interested, but I’m really
excited about it and I think it’s an important arena
that especially you all can really learn about and I
think utilize and help shape. The other thing I want to
say is that you all are, I think we’re at a
really important cusp. The jokes about
jobs, I know they’re real because there are
fewer and fewer jobs in all the humanities, and religion’s
certainly not immune to that. But there is many,
many opportunities for cross-disciplinary
creative ways to think about how do you
use the credible, important, and detailed, and client
scholarship that you’ve honed through your
work as master students or as doctoral students, to
do this public translation at all number of levels. And we need people
to forge new paths. We really do. And I think there’s a
right arena for that now. Not just for the things like you
see in [INAUDIBLE] absolutely outside of the academy itself. But there will be
more opportunities, and I just want to say that to
encourage you to be creative and somewhat bold, if
you will, about imagining what is your ideal
[? preparation. ?] And how can you maybe construct
something that’s akin to that even if the actual job arena
that you imagined yourself going into isn’t
necessarily going to be as readily available. So that’s what we’re talking
about with our both doctoral and master students
because we’re confronting the issue at the Divinity
School about the fact that we need to have a
moral responsibility of what it means to educate people
for jobs that aren’t there. So we need to be
thoughtful about that. So just [? believe ?] that,
to put that out there. OK, so here’s my thought. This is my plan for the
rest of our time here. I have three case studies. They’re very simple and
they’re somewhat [INAUDIBLE],, they’re at the secondary
level, that I’d like you to just
divide up into groups and just stay in your seats. I’m going to ask the four
of you to do the first one. Let’s have the three of you
at the corner do the second, and two of you there
do third and then– No, sorry. There’s five of you. Sorry, I only have five. I usually have– so
if you move over– oh, you have to leave? AUDIENCE: Yeah DIANE MOORE: Oh, I’m sorry. OK. I hope it’s not the [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGHTER] So let’s have the
four of you then work. I’m not going to
spend a lot of time on this, but they
are going to be– They’re not really
highly dramatic, although they have
some drama to them. I think they touch
on three arenas that have to do not only
with secondary teaching and secondary issues
around religion, but they have to do
with larger questions about a lack of
understanding about religion and what it means for us
that are understanding these questions. All right, again,
we’re not going to spend a whole
lot of time on this, but I do want to go around to
each one of the case studies and have you all say a
little of what you decided and how you got
there and then we’ll open up for each
of the case studies just so everybody gets a chance
to hear all three of them, but again I don’t want
to belabor this too much, but what did you
all decide here? So here’s the case
study up there. I’ll read it. A local school
board was approached by two American and Hindu based
groups, the Vedic Foundation and the American Hindu
Education Foundation, who complained that the coverage
of [? India ?] in middle and secondary school textbooks
was biased against Hinduism. Points of contention
included representation of the caste system,
the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and the status of
women in Indian society. How should the school
board respond, and why? What did you all decide? And when you speak,
speak to the whole group. Just stand up, and
if I go like that, it means speak to everybody. It doesn’t mean, boy you
are crazy [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: OK, everybody’s
looking at me. [INAUDIBLE] Well,
first of all, we talked about that it has
to be taken seriously. The response has to be measured
and [? solute, ?] I guess. Again, we need to add
something [INAUDIBLE] It’s also important for
the board to ask why. You said, how
should they respond. It’s important to get
[INAUDIBLE] to call them out on the table and to
ask where is the bias, or against what standard,
what’s the criteria– All that stuff. [INAUDIBLE] use the
[INAUDIBLE] approach. We also talked about
what responsibility does the school board have
to the community at large. Who do they answer to and
what does that entail? We also talked about the
status of these two groups. They are claiming
Hinduism as their own, so that would mean research
[INAUDIBLE] who the Vedic Foundation is, and the Education
Foundation of American Hindus. [INAUDIBLE] [? ominous ?]
[? turn ?] [? of titles. ?] And what authority do these
people have to claim Hinduism [INAUDIBLE] [? road-blocking ?]
to a school board. The questions didn’t
seem overtly religious. The actual points
[? are contingent ?] [INAUDIBLE],, and we all
know that [INAUDIBLE] culture and society are
[INAUDIBLE] all that stuff. But it seemed very
[INAUDIBLE] to [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE: Another one
of the things we said is that the first question
you have to ask is– Lee, you sort of
said this– to whom is the school board
responsible, and to whom is the curriculum and
et cetera responsible, and what’s your relationship
to the community at large. And that probably would
determine all the other things that follow. And so if you think
it’s not your job to– maybe this is the line
that [INAUDIBLE] offered, it’s not our job to
pander individual groups, it’s our job to teach
children, or whatever. Or if your notion is our goal
is inclusion across the entire community and so
[? blah, blah, blah. ?] [INAUDIBLE] can probably
follow up on that. DIANE MOORE: Good, yeah. OK, thank you. Anyone else want
to jump in on this? Comments or anything
else to add? Yeah? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]
interested, but I just quickly looked up the
Vedic Foundation and American Hindu Education Foundation, and
they’re both very different. One of them is re-establishing
the greatness of Hinduism. The other one is actually
about social justice. It’s about bringing Hinduism
back into California textbooks. So just something to think about
is who are you actually talking to. AUDIENCE: Do you
mind if I ask why you thought that the term
American Hinduism [INAUDIBLE]?? I’m just curious, really. AUDIENCE: No, it
seemed very general, trying to appropriate these
terms in a very general way. It’s hard to group every single
American Hindu [INAUDIBLE] these people [INAUDIBLE]
education in one, single foundation. AUDIENCE: Right. DIANE MOORE: So let me
tell you what [INAUDIBLE] So let me tell you what
happened, and some of you may remember this, or maybe
you weren’t paying attention. In the early 2000s, this
is happening in California. In California,
anything that happens in education in public schools
related, either California or Texas, is big news because
they drive education policy because they have such a
big market for textbooks. So textbook companies
pay attention to what they do and say,
in terms of their standards for responsible education. So what this school
board did, didn’t know better because they didn’t
know anything about Hinduism and didn’t know anything
about these groups, took the lead from
one of the groups who suggested a scholar to review
their hopes about whether we should [? be changed. ?]
And the scholar– it was a paid
consultant scholar– reviewed it and said yeah,
these groups are all right. All these things
should be changed. And then other [INAUDIBLE]
scholars got wind of this and said, holy cow. What’s going on? So then there was
an organization through the American
Academy of Religion to counteract this
because it turns out that the Hindu scholar was
actually a member of the Vedic Foundation. And both of these
groups were promoting was now pretty
common in both India and here in the United States. The Hindu Nationalists
moved to challenge the legitimacy of especially the
Aryan migration theory, which is akin to evolutionary theory
for people who want to promote intelligent [INAUDIBLE]
scholars are 98% in agreement about the
credibility of the Aryan migration theory. But Hindu Nationalists
really wanted to challenge that
because it challenges the indigenous nature of culture
that they’re eager to promote. So this was reversed,
but it was a really touch and go issue because,
again, school board is responsible for adopting
textbooks and can make policy. The policy has to also be legal. And so this would
have been a violation of the first amendment
and a scholarly violation in relationship to the
fact that this would not be the academic study
of religion that would be promoted here. It was really promoting
a particular religious understanding of
the [? church. ?] So this was a
really wake-up call. And again, I didn’t
want to use the example of the intelligent design
one because a lot of people would say, oh, they obviously
made their [? peace of ?] evolution science. But this is similar. Similar kind of question. Good. Nicely done. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] OK. Second case study. In several school districts
around the country, into Tennessee,
Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa, there are many others,
Christian parents have lodged complaints
about how Islam is taught to their middle and
secondary school aged children. A common target is
the approach that focuses on beliefs
and ritual practices that parents claim represent
a biased and overly positive view of Islam. Especially in contrast
to what is being represented in news stories. School boards are
being pressured to remove these units
from their curriculum. What did you think the
school boards should do? AUDIENCE: So like
the first group, there was that first
question of who is the school board accountable
to and decisions like that. We kind of want to say, well,
what should the school boards do question. If you did have that
accountability structure, they should just keep doing it. Just keeping teaching
your kids, you [? know what’s ?]
[? going to happen. ?] But if you actually are
elected for two year terms, three year terms, we just
started imagining different ways to placate the population. One idea we had was to add
another unit on the daily news stories, like communications
or literature course, or maybe [? create the ?]
and tell parents, hey, look, we’re talking about that too. We had two other– AUDIENCE: That was
actually the only– AUDIENCE: That’s the only idea
[? we could ?] come up with. I think the basis
for thinking that way was to say if the
concern here is bias, recognizing that that may be a
dog whistle for something else. But if the concern is bias
in the presentation of Islam, then is there room for more? Is there room for– not a
teacher controversy attitude. We’re just saying,
well, we’re just going to look at both sides. But actually let’s
take seriously how Islam is being
portrayed in the media that the parents are watching
that are worried about and bring that in the classroom. Make that part of the education. DIANE MOORE: OK, OK. Good. AUDIENCE: Ask a question? What’s so wrong with presenting
rituals of a faith practice? I hear what’s going
on, but if ritual is part of a group’s faith, I
don’t see how it’s problematic. I think it’s how it’s
perceived as being positive. Sounds like it’s to me, so it
seemed like there’s– anyway, I wanted to throw
that out there. DIANE MOORE: [? Backing ?]
[? back to the ?] central question– unless anyone has anything
else they want to say, I’ll talk about the
resolution of this one, which is not actually
resolved, to be honest. So your questions are good ones. In most middle and
secondary schools, still– and this will be unfortunate. So this is my own
approach so it’s going to go against the student. There’s still a
phenomenological approach to teaching about these
traditions, ahistorical, and then phenomenological. Literally there’s a– I
call it the centerfold in the World History
textbook because there’s a chart in every single
World History textbook. That’ll be the religion unit,
and it’s like three pages and it shows a chart,
colorful chart, of all the five [INAUDIBLE]
of the five major religious traditions, like
founder, [? number of ?] [? adherence, ?] book. All these assumptions
are problematic, I’m sure you can understand. And beliefs and practices,
ritual practices. So the motivations
of these people were either both
out of ignorance and also out of a sordid
effort, organized effort, on the part of
conservative groups who are in networks to disrupt
these kind of opportunities. So this is both innocent
and somewhat nefarious. But they’re right. The parents are
right because when you teach a phenomenological
view of tradition, you are teaching only a
positive dimension of it. And it’s problematic
and [? selectual. ?] Now, all the other religions
are taught that way too. And that’s not getting targeted. So you’ve got this really
incredibly important, and very volatile, and very
complicated situation when this comes
to the forefront. You don’t want to encourage
the motivation behind it. At the same time, you recognize
that there are important truths to it in relationship to the
problematic ways we probably teach about religion. This is why need teachers– this
is why we need people like you, as citizens, to
be able to be part of these kind of
conversations who have a more realized
understanding of religion, can step in, and
help address this. AUDIENCE: I will ask, what’s
the problem with teaching it positively? I mean, if it’s not biased,
let people like [INAUDIBLE] DIANE MOORE: I will
talk to you about why I think it’s a problem,
and you can push back. That’ll be the method I’m about
ready to introduce you to. AUDIENCE: OK. DIANE MOORE: I don’t
want to say it’s a problem to teach positive. Of course we should
be teaching positive. But we can’t only
teach positive. That’s the key. OK. So we’ve got the two examples. This one was about failure
to recognize the distinction between a devotional assertion
about a particular religion and the study of
[? diverse ?] [? subliminal ?] [? searches, which is ?] what
should happen in public context in the academic
studies religion. This one is about what
happens when our– even with what is considered
intellectually sound, these are textbooks
that are adopted. They don’t violate
the first amendment, but they’re
intellectually problematic and can lead to this sort of
true, but also problematic set of assertions. So it’s about the quality
of what we’re teaching. Yes? AUDIENCE: I’m just going
to ask what is considered an overly positive view? Because I have
family members who would say that anything
about Islam that isn’t necessarily negative– DIANE MOORE: Is overly positive. AUDIENCE: –is overly
positive, so it sounds [INTERPOSING VOICES] DIANE MOORE: So they’ll
learn the five pillars. And they’ll learn that
Islam means surrender, and Islam is a
religion of peace. Those are all very
powerful, very real, for the vast majority of
adherence to these traditions. So it’s not wrong, it’s just
not total, and you’re right. They believe it’s
overly positive because they feel like
it’s not true to what’s really true about Islam,
which is of course that Islam’s a religion of
terror and violence, which is their belief. So the question is how
do you complicate that. How do we complicate that? And that’s what we’re
going to be talking about. So you’re right. To name what’s the
[INAUDIBLE] to that. And that’s why I
wanted to counter this to say the intention on
some of the parent’s parts was just truly
somewhat innocent. But the intention on
others is that they’re organized through
[INAUDIBLE] communities that are challenging [INAUDIBLE]
and anything having to do with Islam that
isn’t about parents. OK, finally, last case study. A small semi-rural town includes
Good Friday and the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in the school holiday calendar. All are official days off
for staff and students. The estimated population of
Christians in the town is 65%, and the Jewish
population of the town is estimated at roughly 2%. The percentage of
quote “other” religions is estimated to be
less than 1% combined. A member of the
school board moved to strike all
religious “holidays,” quote unquote, from
the school calendar, citing the following
reason, if we can’t honor all
religious holidays, we shouldn’t honor any of them. And it’s within the
power of the school board to make this decision. And what should they do? What did you decide? AUDIENCE: We didn’t decide. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] We talked about both
sides of the issue and said, we really can see both sides. But we talked also about values,
similar to what these other two groups have brought up of– we didn’t put it in terms of
what the school board’s job is to do, although I think
that’s another way to put it. But to say, well if you’re
going to think about what are our values and
how are we going to put those values in action. That’s what this
is really about. And we’re going to say we value
a situation where we voted majority [? to go ?]
[? with ?] democracy, then perhaps there is room to
make sense for some religious holidays to be taken
off and others not. On the other hand, if you’re
going to say your value is inclusion and
diversity, then you would have to make another choice. And we talked about a
couple of different ways one could make
another choice and we started with coming
up with anything that would actually make sense. And I think Nora said this
happened in her own school district. Not semi-rural,
[? but you were saying? ?] AUDIENCE: Hillsborough County,
the ninth largest school district in the country. This actually happened. I don’t remember what actual– [INAUDIBLE] follow
the news afterwards. I didn’t, but I know one
of the school board members was not re-elected because
people were really mad at her. And she lost her position. DIANE MOORE: Wow. Yeah, this is not uncommon, this
particular set of questions. And New York just voted
recently, New York City, to include the [? eve ?]
holidays, which is also not without controversy. OK. Anyone else want to
comment on this one? AUDIENCE: I wonder if the
people making these things are actually informed about
the nuances of religion and maybe it’s just that the
people making these decisions need to have the
opportunity [INAUDIBLE].. DIANE MOORE: Yeah. They didn’t. But again, very few people do. The fundamental framework
that does not surprise you. It’s rare that people will have
a sophisticated understanding of religion. Not because they’re
not intelligent, not because they’re not
responsible or thoughtful or caring, but it’s rare
to have exposure. Most of the exposure people
get are through the media and through the World
History textbook. So they’ll learn them,
beliefs and practices, wouldn’t that help you
in terms of understanding a more complicated idea. So this is my little town. I was completely
worthless in my attempt to change this because they
did decide to overturn that and to quote, “eliminate
all religious holidays.” My concern with
this was not so much what they ended up doing,
although I’m sorry they did it. When we moved there,
I paid attention to that because I was
like, a small, rural town that does not have a politically
Jewish population that celebrates High Holy Days. And that matters to me. That means there’s
recognition of value. My concern was that
they failed to recognize the embedded structural power
of Protestant Christianity in the calendar already. So this notion
that we were going to not celebrate any
religious holidays, of course, is not true. There’s the one group that
can be assured in our school calendars and most of
our civic calendars to not have major
conflicts are Christians. So of course if you’re
Muslim or Jewish and you want to play football,
Fridays and Saturdays are major times for
those kind of sports. You’re not going to have any
formal activities on a Sunday morning in a public school. You might have practices, but
they’ll get people [INAUDIBLE] So for me, it was more
that they didn’t recognize the notion that
we had power here that’s functioning culturally. And the [INAUDIBLE] nature
of Christian [INAUDIBLE].. That’s what I wanted
them to [INAUDIBLE].. AUDIENCE: Your
[? very cousins ?] are [? beyond ?] [? holidays. ?] DIANE MOORE: Right, exactly. So they just said,
no one or the other. So I lost, and so
much for the power of being a public intellectual. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] OK. So again, remember
I asked you, and I’m going to ask you just to
take a moment and not– since I do want to move
through this next part relatively quickly. I asked you to think
about what do you think the purpose of
education should be? What is it for you, in
any context that you teach, but for a
moment I’m going to ask you to think what do you
think the purpose of education should be for public schools? [INAUDIBLE] Just give some thought
to that yourself. This is a big question,
and I’m not at all going to give you any
time required for it. But I wanted you
to just get a sense of what you think yourself. I’ll give you a couple minutes
to just put your mind to that, and then I’ll move
through some assumptions that I’m bringing to
this and then move into the method
framework, and why I think the method
framework is important, given the purpose of education
[INAUDIBLE] for what I feel like I do in
my own scholarship. AUDIENCE You mean
education generally, right? DIANE MOORE: Yeah, so
purpose of public schools. K through 12, especially,
in this context. Although, I think
this question is relevant for any educational
setting, completely. I really do. I think any of us who
are in education need to be asking and answering this
question on a frequent basis because our answers
probably may change. I’m going to just pass
this outline around. OK, again, apologies because
I’m not at all giving you enough time for this. Here’s my assertion that the
current normative assumption regarding the purpose
of education– we rarely have this conversation,
by the way. The reason I ask
this question is, this is the question I wish we
had when we were having debates about education policy. We don’t have this conversation
and the problem with that is that I think we have actually
often competing assertions about what the purpose
of education should be. But this is the one that I think
is functional and normative now in relationship to most
public school policy and in what I’m going to call
our current [? neoliberal ?] framework. Is that for individual
students to achieve the skills and disciplines
required to fulfill their personal and
professional inspirations. Many different schools have
this mission statements that would mirror
something like this. Again, it’s hard to argue with
anything about that, really. The piece I’m most
concerned about is that it is not about
a more civic dimension. So this is my
assertion for myself. And I’ve written
about this, this is the first chapter
in my book actually that I had to wrestle
with these questions, and I asked my students to
wrestle with these questions. And I just continue
to wrestle with them. So for me, the
purpose of– and I’m telling you this not because
this is the only answer. I’m telling you so
you understand what’s going to come from here out. So you know the frameworks
that I’m functioning out of. The purpose of mandatory primary
and secondary education– this is key to remember. We require students to go to
school in the US at least, in some states it’s first
grade through eighth grade, but many states
it’s kindergarten through 12th grade. We require it. And we don’t require a
lot of things in the US because we celebrate
our individuality. So for me– and historically,
one of the reasons we require that is that we do
have to give people the skills and tools, literacies to
be engaged civic citizens to be able to function in
a participatory democracy. And we don’t function with
that understanding of education so much, apparently. That will be something I’m
going to return to in a bit. So for me, the function
is active citizens able to embody [? mostly ?]
aspirational ideals of democracy, because
democracy itself, of course, is a contested [INAUDIBLE]. And I’ll talk about what really
my understanding of that is, in a moment. Back to [? thoughtful and ?]
informed moral agents. And I don’t mean
moralizing here or have a particular moral view. My own doctorate is
in social ethics. So I’m an ethicist, and
from that standpoint I realized that we
are all moral agents. Our actions represent values
that we are either conscious of or unconscious about,
and I want people to be conscious about the
power of their moral agency. When I say be conscious about
what it is you want to promote and how you promote it. So when I say conscious moral
agents, that’s what I mean. Not a particular ideological
or moral assertion but [INAUDIBLE] And that would
be more akin to the first one. To say literacy’s for
meaningful employment, it’s for life and learning,
and a whole list of things. So I don’t discount the first
one that I shared with you, but it’s a third one for me. So there are many
different roots in the nature of the aspiration
of democracy that I represent, but I wanted to introduce you
if you’re not familiar with this yet. There’s this beautiful and
very short but powerful exchange of letters
between Moses Seixas, the warden of the Hebrew
congregation in Newport, Rhode Island in 1790,
and George Washington. Are any of you familiar
with this exchange? Isn’t it just fabulous? I’m so glad you are. For those of you
who aren’t, this is one of those gems, those
little gems, in history. So the Constitution’s
just ratified. It’s pretty ugly,
if you remember. It’s a hard fight. And that is the
last one to ratify. Washington decides in 1790 to
go around to all the colonies and he starts with Rhode Island. At that time, like would
always be the case, their dignitary’s
chosen by the town to greet the new president of
the new ratified Constitution. And Moses Seixas was chosen. So first of all, we’ve
got Rhode Island which has a strong Jewish
population, and the fact that a Jewish person was
chosen to be a dignitary is itself not going
to be replicated in any of the other colonies. So that’s just an important
point of recognition. And Seixas writes this eloquent
letter saying to the President, we, as Jewish people, have been
persecuted for a millennia. And we are so proud and
excited about your leadership and about this new dawn at this
new beginning of this republic because we believe it. Seixas is the one who coined the
phrase, to bigotry no sanction, and to persecution
no assistance. And he looked at
Washington and he said, we believe you will guide
us in these high ideals that the Constitution
[INAUDIBLE].. So again, aspirational. Clearly, we all know at
the time we had slavery, we did not have
universal suffrage. I mean, clearly, the
aspirations were not achieved, but the aspirations
are important and I think I want us to
represent them, or recognize them. Washington writes back, and the
other part of Seixas’s letter was something about tolerating
diversity and tolerating [INAUDIBLE]. And this is the key
Washington phrase here because he repeats
the persecution to bigotry no sanction, to
persecution no assistance. But it’s about toleration
here that he represents and I’d like to
read this to you. This is just a
portion of the letter. “The citizens of the
United States of America have a right to
applaud themselves for having given
to mankind examples of an enlarged and
liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty
of conscience and immunities to citizenship. It is now no more
that toleration is spoken of as if it was
by the indulgence of one class of people
that another enjoyed the existence of their inherent
natural rights, for, happily, the Government of
the United States, which gives to
bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,
requires only that they who live under its protection
should demean themselves as good citizens in
giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” You could choose any number
of documents to lift up, but I wanted to highlight that
for the combination of– we’re not talking about tolerance
and the issue of power there that he highlights. That’s a really key, key factor. And then the notion
of this aspiration of bigotry no sanction,
and the importance of what it means to be a citizen. So for me, public education and
any education in a democracy has to always be attentive
to upholding and giving the skills and habits
of heart and mind for what it means to actually
function as a democracy. I think we’re in
trouble now because I don’t think we’re doing that. That’s one of the
reasons that I am hoping to see what’s happening
to the broken civics sphere that we have. And I’m going to make another
point here in a moment. So two recent
phases of democracy, because democracy itself is also
contested, and I’m completely– obviously know that. But I think even
having conversations about what are your
aspirations and how do you move them is
really an important one. So when I talk about
what do you believe the purpose of education should
be, having the conversation alone is worthwhile. We may or may not agree,
but the fact that we’ve had the conversation and
recognized different values [? are being ?]
[? voted ?] or not, is a really valuable civic
enterprise that I would really love us to be promoting. So I’m going to do
this really fast. Starting with the
New Deal, we had what many Western
democracies had understood to be the welfare state in the
sense of government supported regulations aimed at
insuring the health and well-being of citizens,
especially the most vulnerable. And recognizing that the
support of the most vulnerable is fundamental to a well
functioning democracy. It’s not equal. There is still capitalism
in our western context, but there is a sense
of a safety net. The welfare state, right? And Roosevelt’s new deal
was representative of that. And many of the
western countries, socialist democracies,
and other democracies still had that same capitalism
but with a recognition of the welfare state. In the last, since
1980, starting with Thatcher and
Reagan, we have shifted the value from a welfare
state to a neoliberal state. And that shift has taken a
long, long time to manifest. And the reason why
I highlight it, it matters because
the values that are represented in
a neoliberal state is about free markets running
it as the fundamental value to be represented. So government function to
protect free markets, which are seeing themselves
as a better [INAUDIBLE] of democracy and source
of social well-being. Protection of free
markets requires a strong military and
minimal regulations, which are seen as hindering
free market function. So the key here is to
believe that free markets are the most efficient
and the best source to promote the well-being
of others and all. And the foundation of
this is the individual, as opposed to the foundation
of the welfare state being a communal one. And we’re going to
come back to this but these are really important
factors in understanding what’s happening to us, right now. And it took a long
time to get there and it was not accidental
that we got here. And I’ll talk about [INAUDIBLE]. Now, turning to this, and I’m
going to whip through this. And some of it will be
familiar to you, just as scholars of religion. I hope that the framing
of it will be useful. For those who read
the article, this will be very familiar
because it’s essentially the outline of the article
that I asked you to prepare, if you had time, for today. So I want to say that
first of all, I’m always going to be talking
about my own assumptions because there’s no single
answer to these questions, but I want you to understand
what I am promoting. So I’m giving you
four assumptions that guide my own work. Religion’s relevant,
this is obvious to us. It challenges the notion that
religion [? works in a ?] private sphere that can somehow
be ignored by international [? relations ?] [? spheres, ?]
especially in political spheres. Since Westphalia in the 17th
century until really recently– this is why this work
at the State Department was so remarkable. It’s only literally the last
20 years that the [INAUDIBLE] service and international
relations spheres have recognized that you
cannot, any longer, ignore religion [INAUDIBLE]. It’s really been
[INAUDIBLE].. [? Brian Hare ?] of [INAUDIBLE] schools
had a really great article about this. But it’s really, really
recent, and it’s still not universally shared. But you have to say, it matters. It’s not just something that– So why spread your
literacy to span the globe, not just here in
the US, but work that I’ve done in other
countries and enhanced in, in Malaysia, and Indonesia,
and South Africa, and Kenya, and Egypt, in India,
Singapore, several places. I started to realize, working
with educators, the assumptions that we have about
religion are strangely parallel in a lot of these
other places in terms of the way people assume
and relate to religion. And I realized definite in terms
of their own particular terms, but what I did
realize is it’s one of the legacies of Colonialism
and the educational frameworks that we’re promoting [INAUDIBLE]
western Christian missions, primarily. And the nature, again,
that Westphalia distinction between religion being
something that [INAUDIBLE] [? enterprises ?]
private sphere, which is a very Protestant
Christian understanding of religion. And the notion that
we live in a sphere separate from other political,
social, and cultural life. So again, it takes its different
form, but it is widespread and there are some
consistent strands. The consequences,
there are many. The ones I’m the most concerned
about is civic consequences. In fact, [INAUDIBLE]
work as an ethicist. So I’m concerned that a lack
of religious understanding promotes bigotry and
prejudice and hinders opportunities for
cooperative [INAUDIBLE] national [INAUDIBLE]. And then finally, it’s possible
to diminish religious leaders if they’re teaching how to
understand religion and less about content and
more about method. And the methods is what I’m
going to speak about now. Briefly. So those are the four
assumptions I bring to this. So the definition of religious
literacy you’ve got there. This is what the American
Academy of Religion has adopted in the K
through 12 guidelines that I had the privilege of
chairing the task force for. I also want to say I’m
currently on another task force, of where we’re working on– it’s a [INAUDIBLE]
funded American Academy of Religion project. And we’re creating guidelines
for what all two to four year college graduates should
know about religion, in any discipline not
just Religious Studies. And that is really
interesting, let me tell you. Some of what this is, is
what we are promoting. But I can talk more about
that, if you’re interested. This is really a journey
with Eugene Gallagher, who’s remarkable. Do you know Gene? AUDIENCE: Yeah. DIANE MOORE: Yeah, he’s
a remarkable teacher. Recently retired,
but not [INAUDIBLE].. So I’m going to
review this quickly. Religious Literacy, I think I
just want to say what’s not. There’s a lot of people
using the language of Religious Literacy, Easy. Which is interesting in one
way, and somewhat frustrating in another. It’s not about whether
horticulture is [INAUDIBLE].. I just want to say that’s
not the literacy I’m talking about here. It details the ability
to discern and analyze the fundamental
intersections of religion in social, political, cultural
life through multiple lenses. Specifically, a
religiously literate person will know a basic understanding
of the [? mystery’s ?] central texts, where applicable. Again, because monotheistic
Christian-based way that we think about
religion right, that presumes a
framework for religion which itself is, as
you know, constructed. Religious Studies
themselves have constructed. Police practices are
contemporary manifestations of several of the world’s
religious traditions. And the italics
are the key here. As they rose out, [? they ?]
continue to be shaped by particular social,
[? constructive, ?] cultural context. And then finally, the ability
to discern and explore the religious dimensions of
political, social, and cultural expressions across
time and place. So it’s a way to
understand religion. And we’re not doing it
in either [INAUDIBLE].. We’re not doing it with two and
four year college graduates. We are not defining religion. Because that’s a black
hole, right there. Because you can’t define
religion to a general audience. If you going to [? do it in ?]
[? an ?] appropriate way, it’s a fiction. And that’s such a distraction
for what people need to know. So we’re not defining. But we are defining
what it means to be [? fluid ?] about religion. And it’s a way to
understand religion. So with that definition of
religion, which again I think is not surprising to you. Here are the four
things, some version of this is coming out with
both the two and four year guidelines. And it’s also
[INAUDIBLE] guideline. When I’m teaching people,
or introducing people to religion, if
nothing else I want them to know these four things. Because they counter
commonly held, assumptions deeply embedded
assumptions about religion. So the first is, there’s
a distinction between, and this is related to
our first case study, a devotional searching religion
and the study of diverse [? religion. ?] Which
is the study again, [? and a study ?] of religions. This is a truism, in one way. But we conflate
them all the time. And one of the ways we conflate
them, in public discourse and in schools,
is that we invite the invite the local
imam, or the local rabbi, or the local priest to teach
about their traditions. Sometimes they will also be
trained in the academic study of religion. But their training as a
religious leader, of course, does not train them in the
study of their tradition. It trains them in a particular
theological [? association. ?] So you know that, but we
don’t know that more publicly. And we tend to associate
more credible teaching about these
traditions with people who actually practice them. And that’s a real problem. So as academics, we
have to help people not demean the power of what needs
to be devotional assertions. That’s what we’re studying. But [INAUDIBLE] with
[? sympathetic ?] understanding the incredible
power of religion. But it’s different to say the
credibility of an accurate representation of
the religion is not through the lens of
believers, by the [INAUDIBLE].. That’s something that most
people don’t understand. So, naming it is key. Naming it a new
[? class framework ?] [? of the religion being
taught. ?] I would say, I start any time I’m teaching
anyone about religion, even my graduate students, I
always start with these four assertions. Because we’re not
[? leaving ?] the class with their assumptions
are about religion. AUDIENCE: Do you have
experience teaching that to high school students? DIANE MOORE: Yes, absolutely. AUDIENCE: And that
was successful? DIANE MOORE: Absolutely, yeah. There’s another article
I could reference for you to read that’s also
a short version of my book. I’ve got a book on this. That’s how I teach
secondary school students. AUDIENCE: Sorry to interrupt,
but what about the day after with their parents? Would they come back and say,
they’re teaching my child to– DIANE MOORE: This is why it’s
really critical, especially if you’re going to do it
in public schools or K through 12 schools. But I would say, again
just as a good practice, you have to know what you’re
doing and why you’re doing it. You need to be able to explain
why this study of religion has the credibility it does
to parents, to students. I just think we
need to be really transparent with everybody
about what we’re doing. And this becomes one of
the things to be done. And so yeah, you should be
able to say this to the parents and administrators. Which one of you is going
to be an administrator? OK, there you go. This, you should really know. All right, so second
point is religions are internally diverse. Again, a truism but
we don’t practice it. We don’t embody it. So it’s not just there’s
Sunnis and Shias, or there’s Methodists
and there’s Quakers. It’s about the internal
diversity, and even the given family,
or given community. Because again, religions
are living traditions. The reason this
needs to be said, is because we teach the moral
truth, the [? pliability ?] with anything. So if you teach the [INAUDIBLE],,
you teach [INAUDIBLE].. Third, religion is [? a ball ?]
[? and chain. ?] This again, is not uncontroversial from
some theological assertions. Bu the point is, if you’ve made
the distinction already to say, there’s a difference
between a devotional belief and the study of
devotional beliefs, you can’t disputer the fact
that different interpretations over time change the nature of
how people believe religion. So an example that I give,
and I wrote in the article. So those of you who had
a chance to read it, this will be familiar. The Southern Baptist
Convention is known widely, remain against abortion. It’s one of the leading
world voices against abortion in the United States. And they have been for the
last ten years, or more. More than ten years, actually. Very few people know
that in the 1970’s, right before Roe v. Wade
and right after Roe v. Wade, the Southern Baptist
Convention passed resolutions affirming the
moral legitimacy of abortion. In case of rape
and incest, in case of the mental and physical
health of the mother, in case of the economic
omissions of the [? man. ?] And then, they reaffirmed that
in another slightly less robust resolution a couple
years after Roe v. Wade. And then, another
into the 1980’s basically saying
that they affirm the middle ground
between abortion is murder and abortion
is [INAUDIBLE].. And they’re saying, these
are legitimate challenges. Then in 2003, the
Southern Baptists reversed all those earlier
ones in a resolution saying, we’re now reversing
all the earlier ones. And now, we’re saying this is
the one we’re staying with. So again, whatever you
think about abortion, the question is what happened? What’s going on
in that community? And that’s a fascinating
critical question. Now we’re looking at
questions of power. What group was in ascendancy
during the 1970’s? And what were the
theological foundations for the beliefs that
they held deeply and that the Southern
Baptist Convention passed? And then, what happened? What were the dynamics? That’s what’s interesting
about the study of religion. The power of a moment or a power
of a group, to understand that. So internal diversity and the
evolution of change is again, a fundamental insertion. And then finally,
religious ideologies are embedded among dimensions
of human experience. This again, is not snooze, you
lose, [? to play ?] scholars. But because we’ve got that
long history of Westphalia and interpretation
of religion living in this isolated sphere, that
continues to get reproduced. This is news to people. And that’s key. AUDIENCE: Question
on the four points. Which is, how do you think those
points address the prejudice that religion is backwards? Because you can say the
nuances have changed. But the second a
person says, you’re still tied to a thing
that is backwards. DIANE MOORE: That’s completely
backwards and irrelevant and you’re naive or stupid
to believe it, right? So, this is why this fourth
point, religion is embedded, is what I want to
give you some language to be able to respond to
the new atheists, who are [? intelligent. ?] [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] So let
me move into this, and then come back if you
still have that questions at the end of this. So I’m going to look at
this issue of embedded. That’s the more challenging one. That’s the one
that’s not a truism. People will, kind of, be
confused about what that means, and what does that mean
to talk about that. But I think it’s actually
the heart of this work. The other things is about
unlearning assumption. People think, if
you’re a believer, you’re the most important
person I need to talk to, to learn about the religion. People think that
religions are, that we can make a credible claim to
say the Christians believe, or Muslims believe. Basically at the
end of any time I’m teaching this to
intro students I say, I hope that every
time someone will make that claim
bells and whistles will go off in your mind. As a Christian I can
say, the only thing that you can say that
all Christians do, or all things
about Christianity, it that Christians have
to deal with Jesus. They do. But how do you deal with
Jesus, is incredibly diverse. From the other side of it, it’s
really interesting to do this. This piece now, I want to
talk about the advantages. And I’m going to use
it through a vehicle of talking about [INAUDIBLE]. So it’s not the only way to
think about embeddedness. But it’s a vehicle to do so. How many of you are
familiar with Paulo Friere? Great, several people. I’m so glad because he
[? repeats ?] my own thinking and also, I think, a
brilliant educator. So he makes this claim, never
in the history of humanity has violence been
initiated by the oppressed. So on first glance, how many
of you agree with this quote? Raise your hand. AUDIENCE: [? Have ?]
[? you read ?] the whole book? AUDIENCE: I love
the book so much. DIANE MOORE: So the rest
of you, you have to vote. AUDIENCE: Someone’s
freedom fighter is someone else’s terrorist. It’s a matter of definition. We can’t make a claim. AUDIENCE: It’s conveyed
in the language. If it’s somebody who
is oppressed, then that already implies having
been [? through something. ?] AUDIENCE: I’m going to
rely on the word, initiate. DIANE MOORE: That’s right. Oppressed and initiate
is exactly the key here. And that has to do
with Delta, which I want to review now quickly. For those of you again, who
have read it you’ll know. The reason this is important
is because it gives voice to structural forms of violence
that we don’t often see. That’s the key. Again, for those who did
not read this at all, I want to give you a
basic outline of this. So Johan Galtung is
a peace theorist. He’s a Norwegian
mathematician, actually. He’s still alive. He’s in his 80’s. But he started to engage
in what is peace activism. And he comes out of
the Marxist tradition. So he’s coming out of that
[? Frankfurt ?] school. He is highlighting
dimensions of Marx, but giving an
important new voice. So it’s not that he’s completely
unique in his [? fellowship. ?] But his voice frames
[? him ?] in an, I think, a really helpful way. The key for him, I’ve never
seen him write about this, but I’ve heard him
speak about this. He has a optimistic view
of human nature, as do I. And here we are in the Midwest,
and I’m from the Midwest. So maybe that’s because
I grew up in Michigan. People in Michigan are
pretty [? awesome. ?] Any of us who have a relatively
optimistic view of human nature have to wrestle with this
question, why can’t we learn from our
historical experiences? Why can’t we following
the Holocaust, why was never again
a pre-equity phrase? We have to confront it,
because it’s a real question. And so, he confronted that. He felt like, for him his
answer to that question is essentially what
he’s constructed here. That he believes in the end, but
some 90 to 95% of the violence that we perpetuate against one
another, we do so unwittingly. And I’ll talk about
how he comes to that. The framework that
he promotes, instead of talking about violence,
it’s only direct violence. Which is what we tend to think
of when we talk about violence. He’s breaking up three
points of violence. So direct violence is
the most obvious here. Behaviors that serve a threat
in life, or diminish one’s capacity and basic human needs. War, killing, maiming,
bullying, sexual assault, and emotional
manipulation– this is what we usually
associate with violence. He then has a second and
third category of violence. Structural violence
represents a systemic way in which some
groups are hindered from legal access to
opportunities, goods, and services that enable
them with basic human needs. These can be formal
as in legal structures and the forced marginalization,
apartheid in South Africa or here in the US. Or they can be
culturally functional without legal mandate,
limited access to education, limited access to
healthcare, the experience of marginalized groups, period. So structural violence
for him is key. And then, the real
part for him is what he calls cultural violence. And cultural violence
represents the existence of prevailing or prominent
social norms that make direct and structural
violence seem natural, right, or good. This is the heart
of his argument. And it’s cultural violence
that is both the optimism, as well as the
sobering [? link ?] as to why we
continue to reproduce these forms of violence. So let’s go back briefly
to our founding father document, the Washington census
that I want to highlight. So we have the choice
as contemporaries here to look back on
slavery, for example. And we can look back and we say,
what kind of awful human beings were they that
could actually own human beings, and own slaves? Or we could look
back at the Nazis and we could say, what kind
of heinous human beings were they that literally
engaged in the extermination of their neighbors and a
whole population of people? Galtung says, we do that a lot. We have that historical
hindsight arrogance. What we’re really saying when we
ask that question we’re saying, boy they’re not like us. But he says, what if
they’re exactly like us? Because he says they
are just like us. They loved their children. They took pride in
their religious beliefs. They loved their families. They played games. They had aspirations. So if they’re just like us,
and they had those beliefs and understandings, what was
happening culturally that gave credibility to slavery? That’s the key question. And there was a lot. Religion, of course played a
really important cultural role to give more
legitimacy to slavery. We know this from
Protestant Christianity and the defense of slavery. And the Bible protects
[? base defences ?] of slavery, and even more
[INAUDIBLE] slavery. But it’s not just religion. It’s also science, phrenology,
the study of skull sizes. This was a legitimate
science at the time. This is our [? offense ?]
now to our scientists, people who challenge the
legitimacy of religion. Science has a long
history too, of being on the wrong side of
things because it’s also a cultural construct. Phrenology is the shape of the
bumps on your head and skull size. And it won’t surprise you that
those with European skull sizes and shapes were deemed to be the
most civilized and intelligent. And those with African
skull sizes and shapes were deemed to be
the least capable of intelligence
and civilization. Primitive in fact, and
then everything in between. So this hierarchy of taxonomy. Eugenics, of course
we know, also was another science
that even was a required course in
all academic colleges up until the 1930’s
here in the US. So, we’ve got all these
embedded cultural values that are giving legitimacy to the
institution of slavery, that allowed people to
unwittingly reproduce those beliefs without
critical [? pathology. ?] And we know, of course, that the
evolution movement emerges out of who knows where? Out of religion in many ways. A small minority of
people, who overtime started to become a
more majority of people, said this is wrong from
their religious convictions. And scientists too, started
to challenge the legitimacy of these beliefs. So the cultural shifts
are about human freedom, and human choice, and
human critical expression and thinking. So for Galtung, the
reproduction of these is the unwitting
acceptance and reproduction of the assumptions that are
embedded that end up indicting us all in the participation
of giving legitimacy to these claims. And so, for Galtung the question
is not, what kind of bad people were they. But what was going on that
gave that credibility. He wants us to study the
people who said no to that, because that’s interesting. But his most
important question is, what are people going to say
about us in 50 or 100 years? When they look back and say,
what kind of awful people were they that gave rise
to whatever it is, or gave legitimacy to whatever it is. And that’s a really important,
interesting question. For me, the reason religion is
such an important entry point to this much larger
question that has more to do with a lot
of things beyond religion. It’s that, because religion is
so powerful a force, and such a misunderstood
force, that when you look at religion from the
lens of cultural violence as well as cultural peace,
because for Galtung, it’s both. It’s not just violence. There’s the corollary cultural
violence, cultural peace, direct peace, structural peace. Religion has the
power, and has always been a powerful
force that promotes every full range of human
expression [INAUDIBLE].. So the reason– back
to our first thing– why I think it’s so problematic
to only assert that religion is a powerful or
positive force is we’re not giving people
language to recognize the incredible danger that
religion can and does promote. It’s not one or the other. That’s what we want to do. We want to say the
religion is positive or the religion is negative. And both of those are just
the same specious argument. Religion, or course,
is not either one. But it is a powerful force. And better understanding
that powerful force, through this lens of
cultural violence and peace, can give us a recognition not
only why religions are embedded and the way they are embedded. But if you ask a
religious question, you will always have an answer. Just like if you ask a
gender question, or a given social historical moment, or the
race question or an ethnicity or class question. If you ask for that lens,
you’ll see powerful forces functioning, explicitly
or implicitly, to shape a cultural norm that
often in invisible to people until you start to start
to ask to make it visible. So it’s not about promoting
a particular ideological conviction in any of
these historical moments as educators. But it is to invite people
to be conscious of what are the embedded assumptions
that are currently functioning, and then to interrogate
those assumptions. It’s not to say that if
you [INAUDIBLE] them, they’re all bad. They’re not all bad. But to interrogate them and
make more conscious decisions about embracing them. Which is bad for the assertion
of the importance of helping people be conscious moral
agents, as what I think is a really critical role. Let me do a couple
more things here. And I want to see what
you think about it. I’m not going to ask
you to do this because I want to go a little further. But this is a really
interesting exercise. If we had more time, to ask you
to engage in talking about– women suffrage is
another example, because direct structural
and cultural balance function together, to understand how
we both allowed for the fact that women were not
allowed to vote. What gave credibility to that,
and also what shifted this? A really interesting question
is this [? language of ?] political correctness,
how it’s been used and underlines the credibility
of structural violence. So I’m going to ask you this. So in context of this, in the
Black Lives Matter movement, we have this response
All Lives Matter. This is a really
interesting one, because who’s going to
argue with all lives matter? Of course, all lives matter. But, is All Lives Matter an
expression of cultural violence or cultural abuse? AUDIENCE: Cultural
[? violence. ?] DIANE MOORE: Why? AUDIENCE: Because it’s only
enunciated as a response, as an abbreviation
of something else. DIANE MOORE: What happens
when we’ve got someone saying, black lives matter. And then you have someone
saying, all lives matter? What’s happening
in that response? You’re right. What’s not being recognized? AUDIENCE: Outward symmetry? DIANE MOORE: Yeah,
structural violence. All Lives Matter erases
structural violence. It erases the consciousness
of structural violence. Erasing consciousness
of structural violence happens all the time. And that, itself, is a
profound challenge to anything that would come close
to approximating justice or a functional
healthy pluralist democracy. Because especially
here in the US, we are inundated with a
cultural narrative of, pull yourself up
by the bootstraps. All you have to do in
America, you can make it. All you have to do is, what? AUDIENCE: Work hard. DIANE MOORE: That’s right. We’ve got these
narratives, right? AUDIENCE: Keep your head down. DIANE MOORE: If you work
hard, you can make it. Then, why aren’t people
making it in that narrative? Because they’re
not working hard. So we have no language
for structural violence in our cultural narratives. Which is why, back to
the Washing letter, it’s so important. The thing that’s
most important is not the bigotry
[? in those ?] sanctions and persecution of assistance,
although that’s important too. But it’s the comment
on tolerance. That’s powerful, because
that talks about power in relationship to
those aspirations. And if we don’t have a
narrative about power, then of course what’s going
to happen when someone gets mad at that
structural injustice, it’s going to look
like it’s just one person against the other. And it’s going to be
a false equivalent. And that’s what we have now. We are inundated now,
with false equivalents. So an expression of cultural
peace is Black Lives Matter. So, direct peace
Direct peace represents the behaviors that
serve to preserve life, promote human flourishing. Examples include
active expressions of respect, kindness,
compassion, empathy, healing, generosity, humility,
I would say education except now [? forms ?]
of education, which I’ll turn to in a moment. Structural peace,
systemic ways in which all groups have equal access
to opportunities, goods, and services that
enable the fulfillment of basic human needs. Legal structures that enforce
equity, affirmative action. Cultural functional
without legal mandate, equal access to
quality education, and quality healthcare. That’s cultural
peace, represents the existence of prevailing
and prominent social norms that they’ve directed structural
peace as right or good. Examples include
religious beliefs that promote justice
and peaceful coexistence as well as aspirations
about our democracy. So here we are. If you remember,
I asked you what’s the purpose of education. I’m going to move on. I’m going to turn to
[? Friere ?] in a moment, and that’s at the back. But I want to highlight
this statement of values in a school. I don’t know the
name of the school. It’s itself a
school, but it could be any number of schools that
have similar kind of language. This is their mission statement. This public school
community, a leader in educational excellence,
guides each student to realize his or
her highest potential by balancing academic
achievement with personal well being and pursuit of
individual dreams. For students
engaged in learning, how to access and
apply knowledge, think critically and creatively,
and communicate effectively. They continue to develop
the confidence and ability to collaborate,
contribute, and adapt in an ever changing world. What is the focus of
that value statement for this public school? It’s the individual. Individual student achievement,
which mirrors perfectly on the neoliberal framework
of individual opportunity, quantifiable measurements. So it has value. We’ve got standardized
tests now. They’re high stakes. We’ve got a whole
industry that measures the capacity of the
students to achieve through quantifiable
measurement that were not in place 40 years ago. There weren’t
quantifiable measurements with the high stakes
nature of them. The reason I wanted to highlight
this backward neoliberalism is that then, what happened
in this particular community, there were hate crimes that
were not unusual following the election of Donald Trump. And there were two different
hate crimes that happened. This is a community
of about 5,000 people. They have a beloved town center. In the town center, there is a
rock that seniors get to paint. And the rock is always about
a whole host of things, celebrating all kinds of things. But it’s a senior
right of passage. The seniors get to
decide how this rock is going to be painted. Following the
election, the rock was defaced with Nazi
symbols, clitorises, and pro-Trump signs. And the town was incredibly
upset about this. Because it’s a close-knit
town, not very many people. Public schools are
really celebrated. There’s two schools,
the elementary school and the high school. Another
[? hate crime that happened ?] though, that was among
two peers on the soccer team, ninth graders, boys. And one ninth grade boy
created a video of his peer on the soccer team who’s
one of the few boys of color at the school. And he looks Muslim. He’s from South Asia. He’s not actually
Muslim, he looks Muslim. And he created this video
with the burning towers in the background
and ominous music from some popular film that
represents the beheading of Bin laden. And then he juxtaposed the image
of this boy in front of that. And he sent it around
to a bunch of friends. And then, one of
the friends finally sent it to the boy,
who was the victim. Who was of course
devastated by this. For a host of reasons, partly
because of the value statement and partly because of
the blue book rules, the school was really
tied in relationship to what hey could do about this. This was not useful. This is the statement
I was going to read. Because the other has
diversity in this school of the individual. Individual excellence guides
us to it’s highest potential, balancing academic achievement
and personal well being. And then after these
incidences, the public school values respect and diversity
in our school community. One of our core
values is to maintain a safe and inclusive
environment for students, faculty, and staff
that values diversity. Recently, our school district
experienced some racially divisive incidents. This is the rock and
the individual thing that happened with the student. We take all these
incidents very seriously. The police were immediately
involved, families brought in, consequences given,
counseling was provided, diversity professionals
were brought in. We do not and will not tolerate
harassment or any other conduct that is antithetical to the
values of our school community. Looking forward,
we will continue to engage diversity
professionals to work with our
school community while creating opportunities
for families and students to engage in activities
and conversations promoting [? civility. ?]
There is work to be done, both in our community and across
the country to eliminate racism and intolerance. And we are committed
to that challenge. The difference between
their mission statement and this statement
of diversity is, I think, really quite stark. Because they didn’t include,
in their mission statement, anything about the capacity
to develop the pluralism and diversity in a healthy
way that they assume exists. That’s what I mean about,
we’ve got a shift now. Everyone thinks,
diversity is valuable. We, or course, value diversity. We, of course, value pluralism. We, of course, value
religious freedom, toleration. Be we’ve shifted significantly
from any form of discourse that promotes that explicitly. And it won’t happen by accident. And we have shifted to a more
individualized foundation in our schools, in
our communities. Globalization itself is
predicated on these ideas. We’ve got no explicit
intention of the recognition of structural
violence that creates these terrible challenges. Now, we have examples
where this becomes two kids with free
speech rights, which ended up happening. They couldn’t publicize this. The parents were
threatening to sue. Because of privacy rights
around minors, the school itself couldn’t
expel the student because they didn’t have
anything in their blue book that would give them that right. They said they were going
to, and they didn’t even talk to the teachers
about what had happened. And they were anxious
too, about litigation. So this boy, who was a victim of
this, was a straight A student. His grades plummeted. The teachers had no
idea what was going on. This family still
lives in torment, because there’s still just
rumors about what’s happened, but not any direct action. The question is,
what’s the foundation going to be for this
community to address this in a form that’s sympathetic
or supportive of learning opportunity for this
ninth grade boy who was the perpetrator of this
but also obviously the victim. So thanks for letting
me take us full circle. But does the full
circle make sense? So the reason I wanted to
highlight this question of what is the purpose of eduction. Because if we’re not valuing
education in any context, as a communal exercise
of accountability and responsibility to
the larger [? demos, ?] we created what we have now. Which is, I think,
a broken demo. And what it’s going to
take to repair it is I think a long haul. I think people do care about
these issues of diversity. But if we don’t have
language to understand that, in a constructive way, there
is a structural violence issue. We really need to try to avoid
at all costs in the United States. Where, except in our schools
and in our communities where we like these
kind of conversations? Are we going to be able
to create those contacts? One other quick
comment, and then I want to open this up
for your responses. The reason I gave you
[? Friere ?] in the back here, is because Paulo, he’s
an education theorist. He worked with illiterate
peasants in Brazil in the 1960’s and 70’s. When he was working with
those illiterate peasants, he wasn’t drilling
them in Portuguese. He was inviting their
consideration of, what were the conditions
that created their poverty. And he invited a
conversation about the nature of their existence to
help identify and engage in critical reflection
and critical thinking. And out of that
experience, he wrote this really critical
book called, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He’s written several books,
but this is the most seminal [INAUDIBLE] And in
that, he distinguishes between two kinds of
pedagogy, [? banking ?] models of education where
the teacher knows everything and the students know
nothing or little. And it’s about content deposit. It’s content driven. You have information, you
give them information. They respond to that
information through, I’m going to use
caricatures here, but through tests and
multiple choice responses. Lots of our education
system historically has teetered on this edge. But we’ve at other
times, had Dewey for example, and
Democratic education that would promote a different kind
of education. [? For Friere, ?] the different kinds are called
Problem Posing Education. The dimensions of
Problem Posing Education are that students have something
to teach as well as to learn. Teachers have something
to learn from them. It’s not saying teachers
and students are the same. Sometimes, he’s
misunderstood to say that. But he’s saying, essentially,
that it would be educators that are going to not reproduce. What happens in Banking,
aside from the fact that it’s just
knowledge regurgitation. It reinforces the status quo. It reinforces power
dynamics and hierarchies. It doesn’t give
students language to think critically or ask
critical questions about what it is they’re learning. So it reinforces the
dynamic of pacificity that doesn’t promote
the opportunity for critical reflection, and
learning, and [? context. ?] And that, for him,
is the real key. It’s that education of
all kinds should foster critical and creative thinking. Not just to be
[? belligerent. ?] It’s not [? about belligerence, ?] it’s
about asking the questions behind the questions. And it’s also about making
education meaningful. So, asking questions
that are open ended, problem
posing questions that are about real world issues
that students have a stake in. I can’t imagine a
more important time right now, in our
recent history, that we don’t have critical
opportunities for all of us to join together. Put our heads together to
figure out, what’s going on and what can we do
about it to have a more positive turn
of opportunities, not only for our
civic discourse, but also for what I think
people still care about. Patriotism and ideals of
democracy, that they really are the heart of
the best of what [? we do as ?]
well as democracy. I wanted to introduce
you to Friere because it’s how we teach,
not just what we teach that also is really critical. I think he’s been a
real inspiration to me. I just wanted to introduce
you to him and [INAUDIBLE].. OK, that’s it. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: Thank you,
so much for your really rich and textured
presentation and materials. We’re essential out of
time for conversation. So anyone who needs to
go, should absolutely go. If there are questions
or comments or ideas that were generated
from this, I think we can take a few minutes. And then allow it to
[? defibrillate. ?] AUDIENCE: I had a
question, relative to what you [? talked about ?] before. I just want to bring it up
and see if we can explore how these [INAUDIBLE] about. When you are teaching in
this sort of environment, you are already
constrained by school rules and of course, the
expectation of parents. Which is the one
I asked earlier. In our context, even if we
went to a college setting, university level education,
some institutions have value statements that
[? usually we’d view as ?] a sign. And it’s something to
be aware of because of certain [? problems ?]
that we’ve seen. How can you push
critical thinking? There’s a definition
that I see that we’re pushing critical thinking. [INAUDIBLE] who wants to do it. I’m also responding
to [? credibility ?] to the schools, [? peers, ?] you
still have to have peers within the faculty. How do you manage that? It’s scary in a sense that
you also need to work. You need to feed your family. So how do you deal with that? DIANE MOORE: I think,
for me, the power of this and why I started by
asking to think about what your own understanding of
the purpose of education is, or should be. It’s that if we invite those
questions to a community, and you can not only
articulate what you believe and what you’re trying to do. Be really clear
with your students. AUDIENCE: Be overt. DIANE MOORE: Be overt. Be explicit and transparent. And then, it’s a conversation. Teachers in school [INAUDIBLE]
are incredibly constrained now. It is one of the hardest times
to be a public school educator, because of the constraints
around standardized tests and the incredible layers of
bureaucracy that have been added in the last ten years. However, there are incredible
teachers out there. We need teachers to
be in those schools, to respond to those
constraints, but also not be defined by them. That’s the incredible
intellectual power of teaching and the challenge of teaching. It is the most challenging
intellectual work to do, to translate
these kinds of questions. Also, to translate
in invitational way and not in an imposing way. You have to be able to convince
people that this is worthwhile. I think that the
success of our democracy Actually is a pretty
good foundation. But we’re not having
those conversations. These two statements that
I read from this community. we function as
though part of what we’re doing in schools
and in our communities is the value of pluralism. That’s a function that I think
we all think we’re doing that. We care about that. But our actual
practice in not that. That’s where, I think if we
just show that discrepancy, people care. Because no matter what
you believe politically, people do not like the kind
of rancor with some exception. I didn’t say this, but
I think it’s obvious. There are people
intentionally trying to manipulate these debates. There’s no question about it. I’m not trying to say,
[INAUDIBLE] this is all about [INAUDIBLE] reproduction. But he’s saying that the
people who are manipulating it are manipulating people
who are unwittingly otherwise reproducing it. So he’s not interested,
and I’m not interested. I don’t really want to have
a conversation with President Trump. [INAUDIBLE] I’m not
interested in them. I’m interested in people who
are being motivated and moved by their assertions. And I want to understand
what’s going on. AUDIENCE: I’m trying
to think about how to apply this model to
something outside the structure of democracy or nationalism. Nationalism makes me
itchy and stressed. I think part of the
problem I’ve understood, secondary education
has in particular has. It’s about disciplining
citizens in a way that I don’t think fits with
the model that you have. So, rather than the
aspirational goals, it’s much more about
becoming a good laborer, [? don’t just sit, ?]
[? time to be ?] quiet, time to follow rules. And so, I don’t mean
to say that’s always [INAUDIBLE] and the
most explicit goal. But I think it often
is one that tends to be tied to the sense
of the negative aspects of nationalism. So, I’m willing to think
a little bit more about, I really like how you worded
it aspirational democracy, or aspirations of democracy. But let’s say that I
can’t get passed the issue of elemental structure. Do you think this
is a model that could be applied also to
other more flexible notions of community or
[INAUDIBLE] necessarily use language of things like
citizenship, for instance? Even though I know we can
understand that broader than a national structure. DIANE MOORE: I do. That’s a really good question. I do believe that. And my experience has
show this, that when we ask the deeper questions. The key is that if we
don’t ask those questions, we’re operating
as though we think we’re on the same plane with
the same set of assumptions. And we’re not. So then, there’s clashes. There’s misrepresentation. I think it’s really hard, and
I don’t want to in any way present this as simplistic. I think it’s the
hardest thing, actually. Because we’re not
only asking people to be self conscious of
assumptions that they hold. But we’re also
asking people to live in these very complicated, mucky
grounds when we want to live in the edges of clear binaries. And we want people to live
in the complexity of what it means to engage in the midst
of structural forms of violence with each other. Because those
structures kill people. And there’s a lot at stake. So I think it
absolutely is that. That we raise the question,
we’ve got to ask the question. I think there are very
few people who would say, we want our schools to
be academies that will teach our children to obey. There are so few
parents who would say that’s what they want. They would want their children
to be able to get a good job. I think that’s fair. But is that all? And what’s a good job in
an unstable community, or in an unstable democracy? This is my incredible
hope that if people understand that there’s
a lot at stake here. And that we’re functioning on
that unwitting reproduction of the whole host of
structural forms of violence. The intention matters,
but it’s not enough. That people can be
divided into that. It’s going to take a lot. Sharon [? Welsh, ?]
anybody know her? She’s actually around here. Where is she? She’s somewhere. Sorry. She’s a [? manager ?] of mine. She’s a feminist [? pacifist. ?]
She’s got this great phrase. She says, when we’re
doing moral work, we have to be whole
hearted and half sure. I think it’s phenomenal. I love that. Whole hearted and half sure. We have things to
learn, but we have to have conviction about
hope and [INAUDIBLE].. I think something
about cultivating a habit of mine that
keep, especially those of us in the
academy and those of us in the
prestigious academies, from being arrogant about
what we think we know. And that’s what Friere
is [? in too. ?] I think it’s possible. I’ve experienced it. SPEAKER 1: That’s a
sobering question, and an optimistic
place to conclude. And conclude, we must. Thank you so much
for being here. [APPLAUSE]

 

One Response

Leave a Reply