In about 1982, I remember an English class talking about the origins of language. I specifically remember the textbook pointing out that one “theory” was “divine origin”. That is that language was a gift from God, given to humans and only humans because, presumably, we’re so awesome. Since I was at the time attending a Catholic school, and since I live in Canada, where the separation of Church and School is fairly tenuous at best, I made no complaint. I knew about evolution; I know that. I don’t remember whether we discussed it in science class. I don’t remember much about science class except that later in public school, in grade eleven and twelve the boys would open the windows to let the cold air in so our rather buxom teacher would get nipply under her fitted angora sweater. This sounds worse than it was. Apart from being buxom, she was a rather plain woman, a bit nerdish and I remember feeling somewhat encouraged that the boys viewed her, at least part of the time, as sexy. Perhaps one day, I mused, they might view me that way, being rather plain and nerdish myself (happily, they did).
I digress. Back in 1982, I’m pretty sure my English teacher dismissed the idea of the divine origin of language. One of my classmates piped up “What about Adam and Eve?” (I feel slightly gleeful to point out that she was the daughter of our then provincial premier). Several of my classmates groaned. My teacher, I’ll never forget this, shut the door.
He proceeded to give my bubble-brained fourteen-year-old classmate the general gist of the theory of evolution. She listened in rapt silence. When he finished she said, I kid you not, “So, Adam and Eve were apes?” I don’t remember if we roared with laughter. I do remember feeling rather smug.
Anyway, all this is a rather TMI introduction to this week’s Terrific Teen, Zack Kopplin. When Zack was 16 he wrote an essay for English class decrying the teaching of creationism in science class. Now 19, he hasn’t stopped complaining since. he has lobbied the State Senate, received death threats and gathered the signatures of 78 Nobel laureates, all supporting his campaign to remove God from the science classrooms of his home state of Louisiana. I don’t know what it is, but this is one of my all time favorite things: a teen taking on God, school, the government and the status quo.
Zack, you’re terrific.