Friday, March 8, 2013

My Young Sappers In Action


This week my students examined the Louisiana Separate Car Act, a law passed in the State of Louisiana in 1890 requiring equal but separate train car accommodations for Blacks and Whites. This led to a discussion of the the line in the Declaration of Independence which states: "...all men are created equal,..." The students began to examine that proposition, using the SAPPER questions. They understood that if they could not come to an agreement on key terms in a proposition that that proposition could not be put forward for discussion or debate. The following is the outcome of their inquiry:

The Proposition:
All men are created equal.

Key terms to be identified and defined:
men, created, equal

The assumption that underlies the above proposition:
God is the creator of men

The assumption that underlies the proposition, "God is the creator of men."
that God exists.

What is the evidence that god exists?

Students' consensus 
That God exists can neither be proved or disproved

Restating the original proposition:
Since it cannot be proved that God does or does not exist, the proposition "All men are created equal." cannot be accepted. The proposition should be restated as follows: All humans are equal.

Re-evaluating the key term:
What is meant by "equal"?
Is it an essence of the human individual. Is it a construct without which the human individual is not? Does it define the human individual? Is Is it a function? Is it an accident?