Public schools get (eastern) religion

posted at 3:16 pm on June 18, 2007 by Bryan

Also not a Scrappleface parody.

The lesson began with the striking of a Tibetan singing bowl to induce mindful awareness.

With the sound of their new school bell, the fifth graders at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School here closed their eyes and focused on their breathing, as they tried to imagine “loving kindness” on the playground.

A “Tibetan singing bowl?” Bowls are for cereal, soup and salad. Not singing.

“I was losing at baseball and I was about to throw a bat,” Alex Menton, 11, reported to his classmates the next day. “The mindfulness really helped.”

Making the play would have helped even more.

The experiment at Piedmont, whose student body is roughly 65 percent black, 18 percent Latino and includes a large number of immigrants, is financed by Park Day School, a nearby private school (prompting one teacher to grumble that it was “Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing ‘enlightenment’ to inner city schools”).

But Angela Haick, the principal of Piedmont Avenue, said she was inspired to try it after observing a class at a local middle school.

“If we can help children slow down and think,” Dr. Haick said, “they have the answers within themselves.”

They have the answers within themselves? Man, I wish I’d known that during calculus or physics classes. I didn’t need to learn how to actually do higher math. I just needed to find the answer within myself. I wonder what my friend the airframe designer would have to say about finding the answer within himself.

As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests.

Where is the ACLU on this? This is religious instruction in the classroom, way beyond anything that got under Madeline Murray O’Hare’s bonnet.

Although some students take naturally to mindfulness, it is “not a magic bullet,” said Diana Winston, the director of mindfulness education at the U.C.L.A. center. She said the research thus far was “inconclusive” about how effective mindfulness was for children who suffered from trauma-related disorders, for example. It is “a slow process,” Ms. Winston added. “Just because kids sit and listen to the bell doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be more kind.”

Glenn Heuser, who teaches a combined fourth- and fifth-grade class at Piedmont, said one student started crying about a dead grandparent and another over melted lip balm. “It tapped into a very emotional space for them,” Mr. Heuser said. “They struggled with, ‘Is it O.K. to go there?’ ”

It’s not ok for schools to go there.

Camille Hopkins, the principal, said initially she was skeptical. Growing up in South Philadelphia, “I was never told to take an elevator breath”— a way of breathing in stages, taught in yoga — “or hear the signals of chimes to cool down,” Ms. Hopkins said.

But the stresses today are greater, she conceded, particularly on students who lived with the threat of violence. “A lot of things we watched on TV are part of their everyday life,” she said. “It’s ‘Did you know so-and-so got shot over the weekend.’ ”

The life of students today may be more stressful than it was a few years ago. There are many reasons for that, and the stupidity of school officials probably plays a starring role.

A fifth-grade promotion ceremony in Rancho Palos Verdes turned into a free-speech battleground Thursday, when students were asked to remove weapons from toys that had been placed on mortarboard caps because of the school’s zero-tolerance policy for weapons on campus.

Each year, students decorate wide caps with princesses, football goal posts, zebras, guitars and other items to express their personalities and career goals. Cornerstone at Pedregal School is the only Palos Verdes Peninsula public school to practice the tradition.

On Thursday, before the ceremony, one boy was told he couldn’t participate unless he agreed to clip off the tips of the plastic guns carried by the minuscule GIs on his cap. Ten others complied with the order before the event.

Parents reacted angrily, calling Principal Denise Leonard’s decision censorship, but the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District defended her.

Cole McNamara and Austin Nakata, 11-year-old buddies who share an interest in all things military, said they put the toys on their hats to support American troops in Iraq.

Suffice it to say that the kid didn’t bang a Tibetan singing bowl before starting a soothing rendition of “Kum Ba Ya.”

To treat the “injuries” caused by the order to remove the offending weaponry, Austin wrapped the plastic stumps in white gauze and painted on faux blood.

He’s wittier than school officials.

In enforcing the decision, the district cited its Safe Schools policy and the federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, a federal law designed to remove firearms from schools.

Susan Liberati, an assistant superintendent, said she believes “the principal has interpreted district policy accurately, and we support her in that.”

Snipping inert guns off of two-inch plastic Army men constitutes interpreting the school policy correctly? I’d be mad as a hatter if I went to that school and no amount of TM or Tibetan singing bowls could soothe me.

While we’re turning our kids into Tibetan monks, some folks on the other side of the world are giving their little ones a bit more hard core education.

(h/t Chris R.)

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Unfreakingbelievable. Reason 219 to Homeschool.

BelchSpeak on June 18, 2007 at 3:26 PM

This has to be kalifornia government schools.

Well, thank ga-awd they’re not teaching christianity.

That means the aclu will stay out of it.

locomotivebreath1901 on June 18, 2007 at 3:29 PM

Snipping inert guns off of two-inch plastic Army men constitutes interpreting the school policy correctly?

The best course of response would be to have a veritable invasion of little green army men in the school. After all, they’re cheap enough that you could send wave after wave of them at the faculty…they could oppose idiocy on the playground, in the classroom, and in the cafeteria. Make it so massive that the faculty couldn’t clip the guns off of them all.

I’d drop a $20 bill on that campaign in a heartbeat.

James on June 18, 2007 at 3:30 PM

Its not just a religious instruction-
According to Dr. Saltzman’s website, it is a holistic medical experiment-

So not only are they pushing religion, they are also doing medical research and experiments on school children.

http://www.foryourselfhealth.com/Dr__Amy.htm

BelchSpeak on June 18, 2007 at 3:34 PM

As the small libertarian contingent of Hot Air readers might say, Dude: bowls are for smoking, not for singing.

see-dubya on June 18, 2007 at 3:34 PM

But, Master Yoda said we should be mindful of the future.

Coyote D. on June 18, 2007 at 3:38 PM

I wonder what my friend the airframe designer would have to say about finding the answer within himself.

I think he might say something like this

Assuming of course that he is a he. Otherwise, she would say something like that.

Veeshir on June 18, 2007 at 3:41 PM

Playing dodge ball – forbidden
Playing tag – forbidden
Playing with toy guns – forbidden
Playing with condoms and safe sex – OK

I’m all for the redeeming qualities of education, but no foreplay?

Kini on June 18, 2007 at 3:43 PM

And the Meek shall inherit the earth…

It will be bequethed to them by the last profesional soldier when he dies…

But on a brighter note, my 16 year old son just informed me that he is considering a stint in the military when he graduates High School… so apparently this crap ( or even the X wifes “indoctrination” } isn’t working!

Romeo13 on June 18, 2007 at 3:48 PM

One student who heard the Tibetan bowl made a sign of the cross and was immediately expelled.

“He just refused to understand what Bhudda was teaching him,” said the principal.

Nethicus on June 18, 2007 at 3:50 PM

Its all a crock to sell Dr. Amy’s stupid $35 meditation CD-Rom, which comes in a hand made wooden box, which contains a velvet pouch of smooth rocks, one glass jewel, and a container of bubbles.

Its like making a kid sit in time out, but its much more torturous.

BelchSpeak on June 18, 2007 at 3:53 PM

is this in Vermont? you know there is a reason vermon is in that word

Kaptain Amerika on June 18, 2007 at 3:57 PM

I guess as long as they don’t say ‘God bless America’ anything goes.

DCJeff on June 18, 2007 at 3:58 PM

I’m fnlailg dwon a siparl ditesanotin uwkonn
Dubloe cosresd mneseegr– all anloe
Cna’t get no cnoetconin, cna”t get trguhoh–wrehe are you

Tihs wrlod is ginog Fkucnig isnnae !

abinitioadinfinitum on June 18, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Ah, the hypocrisy of the left. When they say that religion is bad, they are only talking about one. When they mention the establishment clause, it’s only about one religion.

Having a consistent position is a good thing.

Krydor on June 18, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Enlightening the Black, Latino and “immigrants” are we?

Meanwhile all those angry White kids watch Hip-Hop videos and develop their suburban angst.

The times they are a changing.

Hening on June 18, 2007 at 4:00 PM

Open your mind Bryan.

Remember what the guru told Steve Martin in All of Me?

Back in boowll!

I’m all for the redeeming qualities of education, but no foreplay?

Kini on June 18, 2007 at 3:43 PM

Not to worry, they have a bell.

Speakup on June 18, 2007 at 4:07 PM

Block quote messed up.

Speakup on June 18, 2007 at 4:08 PM

Liberals have never been against religion in government and public schools; that is just a ruse. What they hate is Judaism and the Christian faith. That is what they have wanted to suppress.

They have no problem with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. being taught and propogated in schools, as long as it is not Judaism or the Christian faith.

januarius on June 18, 2007 at 4:23 PM

I can’t even bring myself to read this entire thing.. I read and skimmed some, but the double standard is infuriating… Christians, generally speaking, aren’t even trying to get Christianity or the scary “Creationism” taught in public schools. At most, some ask that criticism of Darwin be taught, but that’s about it.

On the other hand you can teach about any other religion, EXCEPT Christianity, because all the others have some sort of value?

When I was a freshman in High School I had an entire quarter or half of the year devoted entirely to Jewish History. Among other things, I had to interview a Jewish person on her upbringing, and we even had to prepare a Jewish feast as our final project. I made potato pancakes (latkes), and they sucked (due to my cooking, I’m sure they’re fine normally). I even recall that in elementary school, we had some Jewish kid’s mom come in and talk about “it”, and make us (okay we weren’t forced, but it was basically the lesson for the day) try Matzah, etc. I also distinctly remember spinning a Dreidel.

Back to mandatory classes as a freshman in high school (again, keeping the tax dollars in mind, and the lack of Christian teaching in mind), we had a whole quarter on ancient Greece that focused heavily on mythology and went pretty in depth on each of the Gods/Goddesses. Another quarter dealt with Ancient China and dealt with religious beliefs there as well.

I don’t know of a single class anywhere in my high school that taught anything about Christianity at any level, even in passing mention, despite it’s huge impact on history (because the historical aspects are what they would argue make the teaching of all the others necessary). Christianity has obviously had a larger impact on the world than any other religion, I think we can all agree.

Now, I imagine that while a lot of Jewish stuff was forced on us, today’s kids probably wouldn’t be subjected to it… They’re probably forced to endure lessons in “peaceful Islam” (the apparently silent and elussive majority), and shining a positive light on Jews is likely out of the question.

Anyway, I can’t believe anyone thinks what is being done here is okay. It’s bad enough to teach all religions but Christianity as great historic topics, but when you get in to actually making kids partake in religious activities, in a public school it’s just insane.

RightWinged on June 18, 2007 at 4:23 PM

is this in Vermont? you know there is a reason vermon is in that word

Kaptain Amerika on June 18, 2007 at 3:57 PM

No, this story doesn’t appear to be… but my firsthand account was.

RightWinged on June 18, 2007 at 4:24 PM

Veeshir on June 18, 2007 at 3:41 PM

AWESOME! Thnaks for the much needed laugh!

VikingGoneWild on June 18, 2007 at 4:26 PM

said one student started crying about a dead grandparent and another over melted lip balm. “It tapped into a very emotional space for them,”

Grandparent and melted lip balm? Who could compare the two?
With this type of leadership, it is no wonder.

When we grew up , we could talk about GOD and JESUS in school. We played with plastic guns or even a twig that looked like a gun. We played army all the time. Now they took GOD out of the classroom and the kids cant play w/ 2 inch plastic army men and it’s the fault of what? Not being able to hold your breath on a long elevator ride? ( hope they dont have too many high rises there)

Bryan, you’re on fire lately, the vids and two comments in particular;

1) Making the play would have helped even more.

2) Must be hard to read the bill with your hands nailed to the cross like that.

keep em comin’

shooter on June 18, 2007 at 4:33 PM

Liberals have never been against religion in government and public schools; that is just a ruse. What they hate is Judaism and the Christian faith. That is what they have wanted to suppress.

They have no problem with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. being taught and propogated in schools, as long as it is not Judaism or the Christian faith.

januarius on June 18, 2007 at 4:23 PM

Well said…I agree totally.

DCJeff on June 18, 2007 at 4:47 PM

RELAX…it’s a great idea. I used to be a ball of anxiety before discovering meditation. No one ever taught me; I had to find it on my own.

…Although, I’d rather see these schools teach kids personal finance!!

budorob on June 18, 2007 at 4:53 PM

Although some students take naturally to mindfulness, it is “not a magic bullet,” said Diana Winston, the director of mindfulness education at the U.C.L.A. center.

You’ve got to be kidding – there’s actually such a thing as a “director of mindfulness education”?

woodie4827 on June 18, 2007 at 4:59 PM

You’ve got to be kidding – there’s actually such a thing as a “director of mindfulness mindless education”?

woodie4827 on June 18, 2007 at 4:59 PM

Maybe that’s what they meant.

right2bright on June 18, 2007 at 5:19 PM

When I was in the 5th grade, about 66, I took a cigarette lighter to class for show and tell. It just so happened this lighter was a Japanese hand grenade, turned into a lighter, that dad brought back from Tinian.
Today you have to wonder which would be worse, the fact that it was a cigarette lighter or a hand grenade.

dingoatemebaby on June 18, 2007 at 6:48 PM

When do the zen Buddhists come in and smack them?

And then ask:

Show me your Count Chockulas before there was a Bram Stoker!”

profitsbeard on June 18, 2007 at 9:28 PM

Yeah we homeschool our kids, because of nitwittery like this.

My Son, when he was still in a public school (first grade) mentioned once the “peace table” where students could go to work out their differences….in such a manner as to suggest he was so certain this could resolve everything.

I mentioned some analogies with the UN being the peace table, and some certain bad men in the world, and he found the “peace table” wasn’t such a good idea.

As for “weapons” on mortar boards, I could swing a pretty mean goalie stick, does that mean it should be forever banned from school?

Fools!

91Veteran on June 19, 2007 at 2:38 AM

RELAX…it’s a great idea. I used to be a ball of anxiety before discovering meditation. No one ever taught me; I had to find it on my own.

…Although, I’d rather see these schools teach kids personal finance!!

budorob on June 18, 2007 at 4:53 PM

Other people say the same thing about finding God. Yet for some reason that’s not allowed in schools.

If the answer to this story is to let schools provide all means of helping children, then there’s no reasonable argument to disallow any religion, giving the child a choice in the matter.

Indoctrination, no matter the reasoning, is messed up.

Esthier on June 19, 2007 at 9:52 AM

If the schools are going to give the kids condoms, shouldn’t they give them cigarettes too so they something to do after sex ?

Maxx on June 19, 2007 at 9:57 AM