Newspaper article News Sentinel

Letters to the Editor

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Sharon Boudreaux, Knoxville

All students need to study Shakespeare

There continues to be much discussion about what should be included in the Common Core State Standards curricula. A California teacher's desire to no longer include Shakespeare was the topic of a recent News Sentinel column.

I read Dana Dusbiber's original Washington Post story, and I think this teacher's point is well taken. She argues more culturally diverse students need instead to read more culturally diverse authors. She is right to some degree, but teaching literature need not be an either/or proposition. I don't understand why we can't take a both/and approach.

Shakespeare is relevant to culturally diverse students, if for no other reason than as a comparative text. Dismissing his writings is akin to dismissing the contributions of other great historical figures, including those who are non-white. Shakespeare's works represent an astonishing level of life achievement to which we all might aspire, regardless of background or color, and display the extraordinary ability we have as people to enrich the lives of others.

Aside from their universal themes, his plays and poetry demonstrate the fluidity of language. They give us insight into how words become popular and part of our vernacular. That's important, for example, in understanding why the language of social media is so quickly adopted or just as easily dismissed, or maintains its longevity. Dusbiber says she and her students find the language of Shakespeare challenging, as if that's a bad thing. Frankly, I find many things challenging, but challenge is the root of growth.

Should we change the way we teach Shakespeare, as the writer of the column contends? Perhaps, but as Shakespeare cautioned in Romeo and Juliet, "Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast."

Ralph C. Isler, Oak Ridge

Universe's creation didn't require a god

Lack of knowledge about science is no impediment to creationists pontificating on the subject. One recent letter writer claimed scientific law decrees that matter and energy are separate aspects of nature and that neither can be created nor destroyed, except by a supernatural god. However, it has been known for more than 100 years that mass and energy are equivalent. The sun shines only because fusion reactions convert mass to energy. Moreover, the creationist can find no refuge in then claiming the total mass energy of the universe cannot be created or destroyed. Experimental data show that positive contributions from ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy appear to be totally balanced by the negative contribution of gravitational potential energy. In other words, despite the existence of local material objects such as the sun and planets, the net global mass energy content of the universe looks to be zero. One scarcely needs to posit some all-powerful supernatural creator to produce a universe containing nothing.

A second creationist writer has dusted off the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of a god. This argument is just wrong, as various scientists have noted in debates with theists. It states that whatever begins to exist has a cause, that the universe began to exist in the big bang and that the cause has to be a god. First of all, the big bang may or may not be the beginning of space and time. There are models for both possibilities. But even if it is the beginning, theoretical models based on solid physics have demonstrated how the universe quite likely arose, uncaused, from a random quantum vacuum fluctuation. Again, no god required.

No wonder that as successive generations become increasingly literate in science, manifestly wrong-headed creationist arguments push them away from religion.

Ann S. Ince, Knoxville

Country must battle violence together

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Dylann Storm Roof betrayed his victims by joining them in their prayer circle at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and then calmly, methodically blowing them away. …

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