Thursday, October 18, 2012

Against the Stream

Question on an American History quiz:

Who had religious and political freedom in [colonial] Massachusetts?

Sadie's answer: No one

I write many of Sadie's quizzes and tests, but this one was written by A Beka, from whom we've purchased one of our two history curricula for Fourth Grade.  I did not really look it over before giving it to Sadie.  When I graded it, I marked the answer incorrect and wrote in the book's answer: Puritans.  When we discussed the quiz afterward, Sadie appealed that correction.  Her argument was as follows:

If only Puritans had religious and political freedom, then no one had religious and political freedom, since that "freedom" was contingent upon one's remaining a Puritan.  If a person in colonial Massachusetts disavowed Puritanism, he would then lose his freedoms.  So, they aren't really freedoms at all.  Freedom is only real when it applies to everybody to choose as they please. 

I decided that she was correct.  The question ought to have been phrased more clearly, such as: who had religious and political rights in colonial Massachusetts?

Based upon her argument, I overruled A Beka and re-awarded the points on the quiz.

So, what do you think?  Do I have a future lawyer on my hands?  God, I hope not!  Still, though, I'm proud of her for thinking for herself and having a well-reasoned answer for why she went against the grain.  I'm sure she knew what answer the quiz was looking for; however, far be it from Sadie ever to go with the flow when she has a different opinion about what is right.

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. -- G.K. Chesterton

No comments: