The Educational Literature As Explained to a 5 Year Old

Below are the small beginning parts of papers I’ve taken from the big group of papers about teaching you can find written by teachers who don’t actually teach, but with the words changed to be more simple using the same thing that was used to write Up Goer Five / Thing Explainer with only simple words. I did this because I think when you take their big words away, they don’t really say anything interesting or important, and because I’m not a nice person.

Personal Ways I Think About Teaching

This paper shows how I think about teaching and learning because I asked teachers what they meant by the word teaching. There’s four things that came from this. There’s the ‘Transfer’ idea, which means the stuff we know is a special thing that moves from one person to another. There is the ‘Shaping’ idea, which means teaching is like shaping or changing the shape of students into something we came up with earlier. Then there is a the ‘Travelling’ idea, which means that the thing we want to talk about is like the ground with hills to be climbed for better places to see it from with the teacher acting as the travelling friend or as a person who knows the place well. Finally, there is the ‘Growing’ idea, which means we look more at the feelings and thoughts of the people who are learning the stuff we want to teach. These ideas work with bits of what students think of the learning that they do. Whatever idea a teacher uses to help him/her think about the learning that they do will change the way he/she teaches and will change the way he/she looks at his/her students and changes anything he/she wants to do with those students. It is suggested that the ideas talked about here will help stop teachers who work together not understanding each other.

Person Who Helps Things Happen, Person Who Tells Others What To Do or Friend Who Tells You When You’re Wrong?: Way Things Don’t Work Together and Ways Things Come Together in In The Way We Look After and Keep an Eye on Students Who Do Work For Us

I want to talk about how we get and keep an eye on and look after some students we have, especially since they pay a lot of money for it and want to their time to be good for how much money they spend, and like to keep an eye on our teaching through things set by the people who run the country. I will talk about how students wanting to show off how good they are at finishing the things we set them, how this might change how we act toward them when we keep an eye on them, and how this stops us keeping an eye on them better. This paper looks at what we know already about keeping an eye on and looking after them and what they need from us when we keep an eye on them, and I also want to look at how this changes how we teach lots of people, and I want to show you some times that my friends did this.

Changes in The Way We Talk To Big Rooms of People

Many things change the way a talk to a big room full of people is thought about and done. Some of these are our ideas and beliefs about teaching, what we know of the easy-to-know bits about teaching, how much stuff like money we have to do it with, and the place you do your teaching in. In this paper, three different of ways of teaching to a big room are talked about and the things that make them different are talked about a lot, looking at them along with the ideas we have now of teaching and teaching ideas. The three talks to big rooms are then grouped together as the-stuff-we-want-to-teach-driven, all-the-stuff-around-us-driven, and learning-ideas-driven. The things we got together to prove this suggest that the more like learning-ideas the talk to a big room is, the more students like it.

See, once you take the big words out it’s not that hard.

Atheists clearly aren’t indocrinating their kids properly.

So, I was perusing a fairly normal looking derp-fest found on Facebook when I came across this image:

Hmmmm… interesting.

It’s interesting data. Only 30% of atheists have stayed as atheists? Indeed, it was so shocking that said derp-fest of a Facebook group had to caption it with “ha! Where are all you atheists going!” or some such bollocks. Anyway, it wasn’t so much this image that made me take note, as the reaction of some atheists to it. Because, of course, you know, like, it makes Glorious Atheism look bad. Real bad. It’s a big “whoopsie” for Glorious Atheism. So it must be wrong somehow.

So, first port of call in this knee-jerk reaction was to raise issues about the source. The Pew Forum is a religious group! Religious groups lie! Well… there’s really nothing about the Pew Research Center that suggests that it is religiously affiliated, financed or controlled. At least not in a significant way. And even if it was, that alone wouldn’t say anything bad about it. Sure, it can suggest bias, but even those with affiliations can take steps to eradicate or limit the effect bias has on their research – in fact, I’m far more weary of findings coming from explicitly atheist/non-religion groups like the British Humanist Association, who tend to release questionably-acquired survey results all the time. Anyone in any research field will have a bias of one kind or another; a scientist will always be biased towards wanting their experiment to work (we’ll hit things pretty hard before giving up), or a social scientist will have political views (because it’s impossible to be truly neutral on everything), or more generally people will always have a pet theory they want to be correct. There’s nothing wrong with this. The trick is dropping your pet idea if the data says otherwise and making sure you account for real, tangible biases such as selection and confirmation bias. It helps to be neutral, but by no means is it essential. Skepticism and critical thinking is designed to overcome this.

Reacting in a way that assumes an affiliation (that may or may not exist) means the conclusion is necessarily wrong is just a knee-jerk, irrational response. You can make great arguments for it if you’ve done some casual reading on biases and can repeat skeptical mantras but the proof is always in the data and the methodology. Even in the case of medical research trials carried out by a drugs company, the proof is in how the data is collected. To assume otherwise isn’t skepticism, it’s cynicism; and as much of a cynic as I can be, I’d rather not just throw out an idea based on the fact I don’t like its source.

But that’s just a meta-discussion on data acquisition, there’s a much more convoluted problem specific to the question: namely how you go about finding a “retention” rate for atheism.

Being a position of non-belief, a default position, and a null hypothesis with respect to religion, “defining” atheism like this is very difficult. This is why research groups like the Pew Forum split their demographics up into a wide array of different labels. Asking “are you an atheist” and “are you non-religious” is likely to produce different answers even if they are, in fact, the same thing. So, you split it up into “unaffiliated”, and then “religious unaffiliated” and “secular unaffiliated”, then further categories, to try and get a good view of what people actually think. When you do it like this, it turns out that just short of 20% of the US population are effectively non-religious, even though self-defined “atheists” are marginally less numerous than Jews. This is just trying to figure out if people “are” atheists, though. Figuring out how they were raised brings up a whole host of other issues.

This comes back to what I said above: atheism is a position of non-belief, a default position, and a null hypothesis with respect to religion. This makes it quite difficult to really assess if someone was even “raised” as an atheist. Sure, there may be some sad individuals out there who raise their kids on Dawkins and send them to Camp Quest but overall they’re a minority. I’d like to see the “retention” rates for those individuals, but I don’t think we have that data just yet since that sort of “hardcore” non-belief is a relatively recent thing. There’s no litmus test to say that you were “raised” atheist; you could simply not have been raised in a religion, but that says nothing particularly useful. One could easily say I was “raised” atheist because I was never sent to church, but the reality is somewhat convoluted. On the other side of the question, it’s quite easy to say someone is “raised” in a religion – their parents took them to church, they went to church, they outright believed. Raised atheist? Not so easy. What if they were raised in a fairly non-religious manner, but in a non-preachy way? What if their parents were religious but simply didn’t enforce religion in the household? What if parents were atheists but didn’t object to their child going to church as a pre-teen because it wasn’t objectionable? If the question is “what was your parents’ religion”, then what if they never really mentioned it and you went through childhood not knowing? A conversion to a more explicit religion later in life could make it seem like these fairly mild conditions were akin to being actively raised as an atheist, but that would just be in comparison to a later conversion. The reality and what we infer from “being raised atheist” may be very different.

This isn’t to play No True Atheist with the thought of people “de-converting” from non-religion, but it does illustrate some caveats that need to be remembered when considering whether or not someone was actually raised to be non-religious.

Anyway, all this gumph is interesting I’m sure, but the punchline is this:

You can actually type the words “pew forum religious retention” into everyone’s favourite love-or-hate-it web based super-corp, Google. The fact that I didn’t see anyone who was arguing against the chart above being true made me roll my eyes.

Doing this doesn’t take long. It’s easy. And in doing so we can find the actual results from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and it’s survey involving religious retention. It can be found here. The actual report produced by Pew doesn’t include atheist retention or make much of a deal of it, probably for the reasons outlined above and the fact that the explicitly “atheist” contingent is so small (in contrast to the other demographics surveyed) that retention isn’t a significant factor. The survey results that include atheism and make a big point of it come from a different study entirely that merely used Pew’s raw data. That in itself could be a bit of a fudge, for reasons of data mining and so on, but it certainly means that the source attributed in the image is technically incorrect and misleading.

Further from that raw data and Pew’s report of it, we can see a lot of different things. Each vaguely interesting. A very significant number of people shift religion in one way or another, just short of half overall, in fact. We also see that non-Christian religions have a significantly higher retention than others – probably due to ethnic-religious identity (social scientists might want to correct me on that) and the fact that switching between one YHWH-centred religion and another doesn’t require much of a shake-up in your thoughts. We can also see that, in Pew’s words that people “…moving into the unaffiliated category outnumber those moving out of the unaffiliated group by more than a three-to-one margin”. This in itself is telling because it demonstrates an increase in the unaffilliated categories the religious-to-unaffiliated transition is more easily defined than the converse, where identifying a atheist upbringing is difficult and prone to bias.

So the punchline is that the data is fairly sound, with a “but”. And it’s not too difficult to dig into it and find out if it’s any good, which it is. Providing you understand the “but” properly.

Is any of this even something to be actively worried about as a non-believer? No, not at all. Why would it?