01/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

From Sir, with Love

Saw an item the other day about a school teacher who had been sacked because she had admitted, when asked, that Santa Claus wasn't real. On the other hand I saw another article about a fundamentalist christian school teacher who wasn't sacked even though, in a class supposedly about evolution, he had referred the students to scripture. And someone else who had prepared a dvd for use in schools which tells children that global warming isn't happening (and ends with a gun-toting teacher chasing a cartoon Al Gore from the classroom).

Got me to wondering. What would happen if a teacher honestly answered the question, when asked "Please Miss, is God real?", with the answer "No Johnny, no more real than Santa Claus. Some children do believe in god because their parents want them to, but when they grow up they realise it was just a make-believe story about a man with a big beard who gives them presents if they are good".

Call me naive if you must, but I see a teacher's role as being the central truth-teller in a child's life. Children can't rely on their parents, who have been indoctrinated in various political, social, and religious ways, and need an independent oracle who can supply them with whatever doses of reality are absent from their upbringing. What the child does with the truth is up to them, and it may well be later knocked out of them by a local pastor, or shock jock radio hater, or the Fox tv network, but at least they have had equal opportunity to start life without a head full of rubbish.

So encourage your teacher to explain to children that creationism is a bunch of scientifically illiterate nonsense, last taken seriously in the real world 200 years ago; that global warming is real and gathering speed and that their world is going to be inconceivably worse as a result; and that religion is based on the totally imaginary concept of "god", first used to keep women and peasants in their places, and explain thunder, about four thousand years ago.

Or you could just refer them to the Watermelon Blog where these topics, among others, are often touched on.