The Instigator
Theofractus
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
TheOrator
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

The education system should try to make children question their religious beliefs

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
TheOrator
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/21/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,093 times Debate No: 24815
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)

 

Theofractus

Pro

Most children in the world are from early age under strong influence from their parents in matters concerning religious beliefs, or the lack thereof. One of the most important tasks of the educational system is to let children develop into independent individuals with an ability to question and critically evaluate any "truth" presented to them from their parents, other authorities and their social surroundings. Therefore the schools should try to counterbalance the impact from the parents concerning religious questions, and presenting them with good arguments against the beliefs (or non-beliefs) they bring with them from home.
TheOrator

Con

I won't be able to type the longest arguments due to some complications, but I'll do my best :) I'll let the argumentation start with the pro.
Debate Round No. 1
Theofractus

Pro

I actually started the argumentation in round 1, so I would like Con to state if there is anything in that argumentation in which he disagrees.
TheOrator

Con

Oh my bad, I'm used to the normal DDO system where round 1 is just for acceptance and the rest of the rounds are for argumentation. Old habits die hard, i guess.

I'm not intending on turning this into a semantical debate, but I'll be defining a few terms to keep everything clear.
Definitions:
Should: Used to express obligation or duty[1]
Educational: Serving to educate[2]
Question: To express doubt about; dispute[3]

Burden of Proof:
My opponent has the burden of proof in the round to show that educational systems have the "obligation or duty" to make children question their religious beliefs. Should the pro fail to prove this, or should I prove the opposite, then the resolution is negated and the Con will win.

My Case:
My argument for this debate will consist of two sections
1.) The Purpose of Educational Systems:
The first argument I will be focusing on is the purpose of the educatonail system itself. The purpose of an educational system in a modern capitalistic society is to train young minds for the workforce so they can become skilled workers and help provide for a better future[4]. Whether this be in grade school where basic maths, sciences, and critical thinking skills are taught, or in colleges and universities where students get a specialized education in their chosen field, the educational system only exists in order to help create skilled workers and provide a better future for the children participating in it. There is nothing in this purpose that would imply the obligation to make children doubt their religion, or question what their parents tell them (Trust me, Hormones already take care of that :P). This would not help the child learn to do better in their chosen field, nor would it provide them a better future, and so forcing teachers to dedicate a period of their day making children doubt their beliefs would be a counter-productive waste of resources as it takes time away from educating students about the already required subjects.

2.) The Right to Practice Religion:
I am personally an atheist raised in a Christian household, yet I completely disagree with the resolution. When children are required to be put into an environment designed to dissuade them from following their religion, this conflicts with the child's right to practice religion, which is a fundamental human right[5]. Although I agree that it would be beneficial for children to think about what they hear rather than blindly follow it, brainwashing children into doubting their parents in school is not the answer. If anything, it uses the same blind-following system that the pro evidentally disagrees with simply by making the child blindly doubt information simply because it comes from the parents. If a child is going to questing his/her religion, this should be done on his/her own to ensure thorough thinking of the matter rather than blind doubting simply because of the source. Because this conflicts with the fundamental right to practice religion, the educational system should not be obligated to make children question their beliefs.

Unfortunately the character limit prevents me from negating the Pro's case, however my case stands as a direct negation of the resolution. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank my opponent for offering the debate, and I look forward to the upcoming rebuttals.
Works Cited:
1.) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
2.) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
3.) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
4.) http://www.albalagh.net...
5.) http://web.archive.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Theofractus

Pro

Unfortunately, Con and I use the word "should" in different meanings. In this context, I used "should" in the meaning "to give an opinion or a recommendation"[1]. The readers have to decide for themselves which interpretation of "should" would be the most natural one in this context, but I apologize for not having foreseen the possibility of interpreting my claim the way Con does.

I want to make two more clarifications about what I have said:
a) I have deliberately written about letting "children develop into independent individuals with an ability to question and critically evaluate any "truth" presented to them from their parents, other authorities and their social surroundings". This doesn't imply forcing them to doubt their beliefs. Even after having critically evaluated your beliefs, with the help of relevant arguments against that belief, you may end up holding on to it. I have several times critically evaluated my belief that death penalty is wrong, but ended up with holding on to that view. When Con talks about "brainwashing children into doubting their parents" and "making the child blindly doubt information simply because it comes from the parents" he doesn't argue against my point of view at all.
b) I haven't said anything about in what way the school should help children to develop the critical skills I talk about. When Con says that forcing teachers to dedicate a period of their day making children doubt their beliefs would be a counter-productive waste of resources, I completely agree. It would be spending too much time on this. Also, the school should let this task be undertaken by teachers who would do this voluntarily, not forcing a teacher against his or her will.

The above refutes parts of Con's argumentation, but I want to make some further comments.
I start with section 2.)
To persuade children to question and critically evaluate their religious beliefs does not constitute a violation of their right to practice religion. Even if the belief is challenged the child still has the option to hold on to it, and, needless to say, the child should still be free to practice its religion. In fact, if the school tries to counterbalance the influence from the parents of the child in religious matters, not by brainwashing, but by presenting arguments that would make the child question and critically evaluate the belief of their parents, it will actually promote true religious freedom, as it will make the child better prepared to find a belief that is more of its own, not just a reflection of its parents. Religious freedom implies feeling free not to conform to the view of neither school, rest of society nor parents.

My comment to section 1.) is also my main argumentation for my own view.
While being able to successfully participate in the workforce of the society is important, intellectual matureness and ability are just as important prerequisites for a good life; just as its citizens having these qualities is a prerequisite for a good society. And the skill of critical thinking is absolutely vital to intellectual ability. Even if we just consider the economic aspect of the value of education, I'm sure that Con will agree that honing of its citizens skills of critical thinking is vitally important to the economic progress of a society, and so should be an important goal of the educational system. And the best way to hone that skill is to try to persuade the children to question any belief it has adopted from its surroundings, especially those beliefs where it has been exposed to some kind of pressure. And religious beliefs often fall into that category, as many parents let their children understand that they will be severely disappointed if the child doesn't adopt their spiritual beliefs.
So my conclusion is that trying to have children question religious beliefs not only promotes critical thinking, but also liberates their minds.

1.) http://www.englishgrammarsecrets.com...
TheOrator

Con

Rebuttals 1:

lI'll adress my opponent's arguments as they appear.

the semantical argument:
My opponent tries to counter my definition of “should” with the definition of "to give an opinion or a recommendation". However, this definition does not make sense when used in the context of the resolution. When using my opponent's definition, the resolution will read as 'the education system gives an opinion or recommendation to try to make children question their religious beliefs'. You can tell how different that sounds from my opponent’s arguments. However, when using my definition, it reads 'The education system has an obligation or duty to try to make children question their religious beliefs'. When combining the context of the resolution with the argument Pro presented in round 1 - that educational systems should do it because they are trying to shape individuals - it is clear that my definition fits in with both while my opponent's does not. Therefore, I propose that the definition I proposed in round 2 be used for the debate, as it matches the context of the resolution, my opponent's argument, and my argument far more than my opponent's definition.

Pro's Clarification:
a.) In this section, my opponent says that it is not brainwashing because it doesn't imply "forcing" them to doubt their , beliefs. However, what my opponent is suggesting is taking students during their most impressionable years[1] and devoting an entire class period to teach students to doubt what they've been taught by their parents. That's taking an impressionable mind and trying to teach it that their parents are wrong in what they taught them, which is brainwashing children against religion, and thus interfering with their right to worship. Sure my opponent can say that there is a chance the lessons could fail, but that doesn't change what it is, it merely implies that it could result in a waste of resources.
b.) Just because my opponent did not explicitly state when these tasks would be performed, it does not mean that there wouldn't be real-world implications. Obviously, in order to teach this in schools the educational system would have to clear time from their schedules in order to impliment these sessions. This means that time would be taken away from the other classes, giving children less time to learn their core classes and hindering the purpose of schools.

Further Comments:
2.) My opponent starts this section by repeating the same argumentation used in section a.) of the clarification, stating that it's not neccesarily brainwashing because they have the option to hold on to it, so I'll reiterate the same argument used against it. Although Pro is reluctant to call it brainwashing, he is advocating for taking children during their most impressionable years and submitting them to teaching to doubt their parents in regular daily sessions. This is quite obviously an attempt to turn young minds against religion, and parents teachings as a whole. The result would be less "critical thinking", and more indoctrination, only instead of indoctrination for religion, it will be indoctrination against religion ,which completely undermines the well-rounded mind that Pro's advocating. He ends the section by saying that it would actually promote religious freedom because it implies "feeling free not to conform to the view of neither school, society, nor parents", but this is not what will be accomplished. As I stated earlier, you're not promoting critical thinking with this system, your teaching students to mindlessly question their parents. This isn't freedom, it's indoctrination.

1.) I only have 200 characters left, so I'll keep this as short as possible. My opponent claims that "critical thinking" is better than tools to have a successful future. However, this indoctrination does not promote critical thinking as I've proven, and so it strips them of the tools without providing the thinking.
Works Cited:
1.)
http://www.cssaonline.net...
Debate Round No. 3
Theofractus

Pro

Semantics:

When I say that I use it in the meaning "to give an opinion or a recommendation" I meant "It is my recommendation that the education system should try to make children question their religious beliefs". I think that would be obvious to most readers. Such an understanding of my use of the word "should" makes perfectly sense both in both the resolution as well as my arguments, but my opponent's arguments are of course better in accordance with his definition. Again, let those who read this debate judge for themselves whether my opponent has the more natural understanding of my use of the word "should" as well as my clarification in round 3, or whether he just tries to collect cheap points by active misunderstanding.

Now to the rest of my opponent's argumentation in Round 3:

My opponent argues as if I wanted schools to submit students "to teaching to doubt their parents in regular daily sessions". This has no root in anything I have written, and I agree that indeed this would be a horrible thing to do. As for the time devoted to this advancement of critical thinking in religious matters, I would estimate that 5-10 hours every year should be more than sufficient. My opponent fortunately doesn't seem to disagree with my view that promoting critical thinking is a vital part of what an education ought to achieve. But if we want future students to become free spirits with excellent skills in critical thinking, it doesn't make sense to exclude from this aim critical thinking about ground-rooted beliefs, into which category religion usually falls.

Now, my opponent argues that what we talk about is not critical thinking. In fact, he continues to equal trying to make children question their beliefs with brainwashing.
Let's say that an atheistic child in grammar school is exposed to a priest who is invited to talk to the class in an hour or two about why he feels his Christian belief is justified, or that a Christian or Muslim student in high school is asked to read Richard Dawkins' excellent book "The God Delusion". It would hopefully have these students critically evaluate their beliefs, but is it brainwashing? My opponent is right when he points out that we here talk about minds in their most impressionable years. In these years children are often exposed to emotional pressure from their parents to adopt their religious (or non-religious) beliefs. Is it brainwashing when the child is also exposed for arguments the other way, while it is not when the parents alone influence the child in these matters? In fact brainwashing is often achieved by seeing to that a person in only presented to facts and arguments that point in one direction, while ensuring that the person is also acquainted with arguments in the opposite direction is usually the best remedy against brainwashing.
TheOrator

Con

The Semantical Argument:
I understand that you mean "It is my recommendation that the education system should try to make children question their religious beliefs", that's what the resolution states, however I'm debating over what "should" means, not what the resolution itself means. My argument was that your definition of the word should means that the resolution states that educational systems are making the suggestion to try to make children question their religious beliefs, while your arguments state that schools should have the obligation to do so. This isn't a "cheap" move, it's the more sensible one, and as you decided to clash definitions we debated over them. Like all things, the viewers will decide, but that doesn't we shouldn't debate over it.

I will now address my opponent's argument section by section.
Paragraph 1:
"My opponent argues as if I wanted schools to submit students "to teaching to doubt their parents in regular daily sessions". This has no root in anything I have written, and I agree that indeed this would be a horrible thing to do"
My opponent claims this has no root, however, he has directly stated that schools should make children "question" their parents in school, which would take place in their classrooms every day (unless there's some other place children go to school). Just because he did not explicitly state it, it does not mean that it doesn't have to do with what he said.

"My opponent fortunately doesn't seem to disagree with my view that promoting critical thinking is a vital part of what an education ought to achieve. But if we want future students to become free spirits with excellent skills in critical thinking, it doesn't make sense to exclude from this aim critical thinking about ground-rooted beliefs, into which category religion usually falls."
I agree that critical thinking is important, but disagree that this is how it can be achieved. Submitting children to sessions dedicated to smashing their beliefs during their impressionable years is the same thing as submitting children to build beliefs during their impressionable years, it doesn't promote free thinking, it simply subsitutes your own way of thinking for their parents. Furthermore this "5-10 hours a year" my opponent submitted isn't enough to acutally have the effects my opponent wishes. These sessions are too short to work using regular methods, and so even if you agree with my opponent's idea, his system will not acheive it.

Paragraph 2:
"Let's say that an atheistic child in grammar school is exposed to a priest who is invited to talk to the class in an hour or two about why he feels his Christian belief is justified, or that a Christian or Muslim student in high school is asked to read Richard Dawkins' excellent book "The God Delusion". It would hopefully have these students critically evaluate their beliefs, but is it brainwashing?"
That would not be brainwashing as it appears to be voluntary and a one time thing, but let me offer you another scenario in return. Imagine impressionable children, forced to attend a classroom lecture as part of their teachings, and the whole time they are repeatedly being told that their beliefs are wrong untill it eventually sticks. Is that brainwashing?

"In fact brainwashing is often achieved by seeing to that a person in only presented to facts and arguments that point in one direction, while ensuring that the person is also acquainted with arguments in the opposite direction is usually the best remedy against brainwashing."
However, there's a difference. One difference being that as children mature, hormones make us question our parents anyway. When reinforced with daily teaching that our beliefs are wrong, that can quickly turn in the other direction. If anything, casual interaction with those who hold different beliefs are the answer, not forced submission to opposite ideas.

VOTERS:
S/G, is about the same, as well as conduct unless you want to count my round 1 against me.
I ran out of characters :P
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
He's still traumatized after that time he voted against me ;)
Posted by Theofractus 4 years ago
Theofractus
OK. Point taken.
Posted by TheOrator 4 years ago
TheOrator
Hey, Pro, I know you're new here, but arguing in the comments is extremely rude, especially when you're arguing with voters. Arguments are supposed to stop with the debate. that would be like me picking up dropped arguments (I dont' think I had any though) in the comments because i forgot in the round.
Posted by Theofractus 4 years ago
Theofractus
I can't resist the temptation to answer PeacefulChaos.
First I must admit that I made a typo in Round3, I had intended to change "should" to "would", but forgot to do so. But I'm puzzled that PeacefulChaos claims "that in the source Pro provides, there is no definition of should that states "to give an opinion or recommendation." ". I cite from the source I gave:
"We use 'should' to give an opinion or a recommendation."
Then, just like Con, PeacefulChaos insists "that the only way to do this is to incorporate their idea into daily classroom sessions." To me, this is an extreme underestimation of students' intellectual capacities. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find empirical evidence to back either your or mine position here, so we have to let the readers decide for themselves what claim the find most likely to be correct.
Posted by PeacefulChaos 4 years ago
PeacefulChaos
RFD (Reason For Decision) -

To begin with, I'd like to go over the semantic argument. It seems that Pro was somewhat confused in this area. Con attempts to define "should" as "used to express obligation or duty." Pro, however, states that he meant for the word "should" to be defined as "to give an opinion or recommendation." The first and foremost problem that should be evident is that in the source Pro provides, there is no definition of should that states "to give an opinion or recommendation." Later on, Pro claims that what he actually meant was "It is my recommendation that the education system *SHOULD* try to make children question their religious beliefs." This makes absolutely no sense, since the word "should" is within Pro's "definition" and has not been defined in any way. The meaning of should is to have an obligation or moral duty and always has been.

Con later shows how the purpose of school contrasts from what Pro believes the educational system should be teaching children, which in turn means they have no obligation or moral duty to question their religious beliefs. If anything, it is the parents obligation to do such things and not the educational system.

The last point Con brings up is how schools would be brainwashing children. Pro attempts to refute this point by claiming that he never stated the children would be forced to attend sessions daily that teach the children to question what the children believe in; however, this is exactly what he has implied. All throughout the debate Pro repeatedly states that the educational system should make children question their religious beliefs, and the only way to do this is to incorporate their idea into daily classroom sessions.

However, I do agree with Pro on the aspect that Con argued incorrectly when attempting to show "how" schools would be unable to make children question their beliefs instead of "why."

Overall, though, I believe that Con has won the debate.
Posted by kastanj 4 years ago
kastanj
TheOrator, do you have any comment regarding the misunderstanding I described in my first comment?

Since it seems Pro agreed, it can be important for the debate.
Posted by TheOrator 4 years ago
TheOrator
The main thing I was arguing against in the round was not how it was implimented, but the actual system which was impliented. I did mention the 5-10 hours a year argument, but that was to argue that Pro had a no-win scenario as the resolution would either commit indoctrination which udnermines critical thinking or be ineffective and so a waste of resources.

I don't normally argue in the comments as I think it's kinda rude, but I thought I should clear it up.
Posted by Theofractus 4 years ago
Theofractus
The last sentence should have been "So I still would say that he argues against a way of implantation, which is not rooted in anytning I've written.
Posted by Theofractus 4 years ago
Theofractus
I noticed that Con said that, but in the same round he also said "My opponent claims this has no root, however, he has directly stated that schools should make children "question" their parents in school, which would take place in their classrooms every day (unless there's some other place children go to school). So I still would say that he argues against a way of implantation.

But I also still agree with you that "why" and not "how" is the relevant issue here
Posted by kastanj 4 years ago
kastanj
"I disagree with kastanj when he says that Con argues against how I suggests this would be achieved."

Pro: "I would estimate that 5-10 hours every year should be more than sufficient."
Con: "Furthermore this "5-10 hours a year" my opponent submitted isn't enough to acutally have the effects my opponent wishes."

There was at least a case in where it happened, but the reason i brought it up was that Con argued against what he saw as a suggestion on how to achieve it, it wasn't relevant to the argument I was making whether he adressed you correctly or not, what was being said was still irrelevant from talking about the "how" instead of the "why".
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
TheofractusTheOratorTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: "If anything, casual interaction with those who hold different beliefs are the answer, not forced submission to opposite ideas."
Vote Placed by PeacefulChaos 4 years ago
PeacefulChaos
TheofractusTheOratorTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.