Sunday, July 11, 2010

RP--The firing of Dr. Howell: Its not what he said, its how he said it.

Was it right to fire Dr. Howell, or did the University pull the trigger to early?

Reese’s Pieces » Blog Archive » The firing of Dr. Howell: Its not what he said, its how he said it.:
"Instruction is a fine art. When I was teaching, it was a delicate ballet between covering everything and meeting the students intellectually where they were, and where they needed me to be. There is always a problem when your beliefs and feelings are in conflict with the material. This one is a lot less of a problem when you’re a middle school literature teacher working with a non-controversial curriculum. There is an entirely different can of worms when one is a college professor–especially a professor in Religion at a public institution.
Dr. Howell

I am fascinated with the study of religion, and really love the work, but I don’t envy the Religion professors at the University of Illinois. No one goes into the study of Religion unless they have pretty strong feelings for some sort of creed. Whether you’re atheist, pantheist, Deist, Catholic or Muslim, I am sure that Religion professors often have a difficult time balancing their strong feelings about their beliefs and presenting material in a detached, objective scientific way.

All subjects at a public university must be taught this way, however. This isn’t a seminary, this is an institute of thought. This is a laboratory of the world..."

Read my take on a story that's bound to absorb us over the next week.


Megan said...

Teaching Catholicism from a scientific and objective perspective? The former makes no sense and latter is precisely what Dr. Howell did. He taught the tenets of the Catholic religion.

I took his class in Fall 2007. He told my class that he was a former Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1996. I think this is fair so students can understand his background.

He also told us that we were not required to believe the tenets of the church; that he wouldn't grade us according to our beliefs. He also encouraged friendly debate in the classroom -- if someone disagreed with the church's stance on a topic, they were welcome to voice this.

How more objective can you get? The class wasn't "A Scrutiny of Catholicism". It was merely "Introduction to Catholicism". He did just that.

Ameriqueer said...

I highly suggest you read the full article over at I cannot post in full here--before you judge my conclusions. Judging my conclusions based only on the blurb here is like writing a movie critique after seeing the preview.