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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:42 AM
Original message
Social study and study of Christianism.
My son (9th grade) come back from school with a homework today on Roman History. The topic is "Make a cartoon of the life of Jesus by selecting 4 facts in a list and explain why you chose these 4 facts). My initial reaction was to groan because, while Christianity is obviously an important aspect of European life, how does this assignment help kids understand why it is important, and how is it more than simply repeating religious imagery (Note: they studied Buddhism earlier in the year and they never got such an assignment, not did they for Hinduism).

(Note: I have nothing against teaching the philosophical/religious basis of Christianism, or any other religion, in relation with how they impacted with the culture/history of a country. I actually think it is important to better understand a culture. It is just the "Life of Christ" aspect that bothers me).

I am off base when finding this assignment is weird?
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:43 AM
Response to Original message
1. Is this is a Christian school? If not, it's a bizarre assignment and bad pedagogy.
Yeah, Jesus was around in the time of the Roman Empire, but picking a few scenes from his life says very little about the Roman Empire itself.

I could see picking some stuff about, say, Jerusalem or Judah under the occupation.

Odd.

Is the teacher a rightwing Christian? Or just suffering from a moment of stupidity?
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
2. Claiming religious scriptures as fact seems a little odd
I'm sure there's some historical references but it would be hard to prove facts.
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Veritas_et_Aequitas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
3. Absolutely not.
I'm a practicing Catholic, and I'd balk at that assignment coming out of a public school.

Too bad the facts are given out in a list, or else you could have some fun with that assignment by introducing the Gnostic/Docetist gospels, or picking just plain weird moments from the gospels. Me? I'd pick the guy that fled from Gethsemane naked.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:47 AM
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4. How about a cartoon that shows there's no indication of Jesus in Roman History?
That should make him really popular with his teacher.

--IMM
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Veritas_et_Aequitas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Eh. There's still a lively debate about the "historical Jesus"
but last I read, scholars were leaning towards there being a guy named Yeshua bin Yusef that was a preacher who was executed for being a rabble-rouser around that time. They cited Josephus' history after working through it painstakingly to figure out what references were Christian redactions and what was most likely Josephus' original text on the matter.

Still, without the miracles, it's a pretty dull story.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Even what you say would get a reaction.
(Note: I'm no scholar of this.)

From what I understand, guys named Yeshua, claiming to be the messiah, were a dime a dozen in those days. Put that together with Jesus forming a composite of several preceding deities, and the the search for the historical Jesus resembles the search for the historical PeeWee Herman.

Again, to my knowledge Josephus' references to Jesus are considered forgeries by scholars. There is no other reference to Jesus outside of scripture, and we know that wasn't written by historians.

--IMM
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Nope.
There's a consensus among historians that there's no historical account of Jesus.

It's just Biblical.
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TrogL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
6. Pick four wierd ones
  • Garden of Gesthemane with the Apostles sleeping it off
  • killing the The Olive tree (see, he's got it in for Olive Garden too)
  • Mary getting pregnant
  • hangin' with prostitutes
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    sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:58 AM
    Response to Original message
    7. I recommend selections from the Brick Testament
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    enlightenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:01 AM
    Response to Original message
    8. No, you're not off-base - and frankly this seems like
    a pretty infantile assignment for a 9th grade social studies/history class.

    Perhaps you should give the teacher a call and determine their motivation for choosing it. If the unit is Roman history, it seems like it would make more sense to examine the Roman response to the Jewish uprisings rather than a non-critical (and not historically accurate unless you take the Bible as an objective source document) exercise that offers nothing toward understanding Roman history.

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    immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:04 AM
    Response to Reply #8
    11. You always live up to your screen name.
    :thumbsup:

    --IMM
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    enlightenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:32 PM
    Response to Reply #11
    15. I do??
    Thank you - that's nice! *blush*

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    immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 05:00 PM
    Response to Reply #15
    16. Well maybe those are the ones that I notice.
    You know, you read through a thread and something hits you, and you go "who wrote that?" At least a few of those have been yours. :)

    --IMM
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    enlightenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 05:38 PM
    Response to Reply #16
    19. Well, thank you.
    I think I'll count myself lucky that some of my more doltish posts of late haven't elicited a similar reaction from you (I know they have from some - and well deserved. Sometimes I really should just NOT hit the submit button!)

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    amdezurik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:03 AM
    Response to Original message
    10. very much off-base
    If the teacher had asked for pictures to be drawn from the Life of budda it would be differnt, but since he is highlighting jesus as the only historical religios figure worth detailing his life, then I would have a huge problem with that assignment.
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    Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:05 AM
    Response to Original message
    12. Thanks, that is what I thought.
    Which is funny is that the assignment is like if they knew it was problematic, so they only kept facts that could be seen as not religious (like Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was a carpenter, he was arrested by the Romans and died by crucifixion, ... to which they added a list of "doctrine of Jesus" --(I do not remember what they listed).

    I have trouble making sense of the assignment, but it really grates me. I see no pedagogical point of doing that, and frankly, it seems ridiculous that it will be the only major homework they have on Roman history).
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    Soylent Brice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:08 AM
    Response to Original message
    13. NO. you are right.
    interesting they only get this type of assignment for jesus, and the rest are left out in the cold.

    clearly a bias if they're not fully exploring how all the major religions influenced individual cultures.

    considering that christians are a minority in the world, further consdidering buddhists are a fifth of the world alone, that's like teaching a kid about helium and leaving out the rest of the periodical table.
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    Cerridwen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 11:33 AM
    Response to Original message
    14. Some suggestions, if I might.
    First, yeah I think it's weird they're promoting as fact that which scholars are still debating.

    Next, since this is an assignment, perhaps these "cartoons" might work; your son's mileage may vary. :D It could be quite a learning experience for the rest of the class - and the teacher, too.

    The birth of Jesus - it's important because biblical scholars still debate his exact birth date; one of the ideas being that December was chosen in order to co-opt the Mithras cult that was popular in Rome.

    Jesus was a carpenter and therefore one of the populace, the working people rather than of the ruling class of Rome. The "messiah" came from the people; not from the "leaders." His status as alien working class may have contributed to his demise.

    Jesus was arrested by the Romans because 1) he preached against the evils of the "money changers," i.e., greed in the temples (places of worship) 2) he preached against the "leaders" 3) he was a political dissenter, i.e., see #1 and #2. In short, he challenged the "status quo" and may have been punished for doing exactly that.

    Jesus was crucified. Had he been a Roman citizen, he would not have been subject to crucifiction. (I wiki-ed it.) An example of standards and punishments applied differently based on citizenship versus "alien" status.

    Just some ideas to take the Jesus "facts" and weave them with Roman history by using Jesus as an archetype of what can happen if one is of the people, an "alien," or a "dissenter" and how one religious group who gains power will co-opt the less powerful religion in order to promote their own beliefs at the expense of the less powerful; and re-write history.

    Eh, maybe not such a good idea. But it's kind of fun to think about.


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    HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 05:05 PM
    Response to Original message
    18. That's like coming up with four facts about Sherlock Holmes.
    You could have your son explain the fact that there's no historical evidence that Jesus exist.

    You could explain that every one of the Bible stories about Jesus comes from earlier stories in Egyptian mythology and elsewhere... virgin birth, three wise men, loaves and fishes, walking on water, healing the blind, etc.

    Those are the only two facts I can think of.
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