NRL News

Pro-Life Education: Keeping the discussion moving along

by | Sep 18, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

OriginsSome NRL News Today readers may remember the name Annie Murphy Paul. We’ve written two posts about the subject of her book: “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.”

One praised what she had to say in “What babies learn in the womb.” The other was much more critical– “Knowing everything BUT MISSING EVERYTHING THAT COUNTS.”

The former was based on a talk Paul delivered at a TED conference. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) bills itself “as a nonprofit organization dedicated to ‘Ideas worth spreading,’ which it distributes through talks posted on its website.”

And Paul was brilliant in describing what research is telling us about “fetal origins”—that “The fetus, we now know, is not an inert blob, but an active and dynamic creature, responding and adapting as it readies itself for life in the particular world it will soon enter.”

The latter looked at the book rather than the talk—and you find out why the unborn is a “fetus,” and not just in an isolate passage. As Ryan T. Anderson explains:

“Only at the book’s end, where Paul reminisces about ‘marching arm in arm’ at an ‘abortion-rights rally, ‘does the reader finally understand why she was at such pains to use the clinical term ‘fetus,’ Paul clearly sees–and wants to mute–an implication of the research that she popularizes: No mere clump of cells or blob of tissue, the unborn child is a living, dynamic, self-directing, and interacting baby. (Or, as Paul puts it, ‘a learning, adapting, responding fetus.’)”

Having said that, there is a lot to learn/criticize/synthesize from her blog—“The Brilliant Report: A Monthly Newsletter bringing you the latest intelligence on learning.” She writes a great deal about “learning styles”—the idea that “each student has a particular mode by which he or she learns best. ” Paul thinks is an almost silly notion and doubts it even exists. A lot of people disagree, of course.

But for our purposes what’s interesting is her fall-back position: that “all learners benefit when information is put forth in diverse ways that engage a multitude of the senses.”

So, I ask you, how could we apply that as we help the public learn about the beauty, complexity, and humanity of the unborn child?

At one level, there are many people, even now, who respond well to “text”—whether that takes the form of books, pamphlets, the “crawl” at the bottom of your television screen, or words embedded, so to speak, in videos.

As an example of appealing to more than one sense, Paul talks about “academic music” that teaches math to young people using music. “Clapping, drumming and chanting gave these pupils another avenue through which to understand the concept [of fractions],” she writes.

Speaking of pro-life videos, in watching them many of your senses are engaged in a delightful learning experience. (That is the reason I often ask for good examples that I can pass along to NRL News Today readers.) It’s very difficult not to be focused when the action moves along briskly, accompanied by energetic music.

There are many blessings, including the way videos help you quickly make associations and connections that are far more difficult if you just read about them. At the top, perhaps, is that videos help the viewer see with great clarity the incoherence of the pro-abortion position—that unless you are willing to accept infanticide, why does the unborn child deserve protection at Point A but not Point B?

We’ll address one of the most successful ways of “teaching”—one that engages all the senses—at another time: the example we set by living our pro-life values.

You can get a preview of another way of engaging the viewer or your dialogue partner (teaching and learning by asking questions) by re-reading “Teaching Young People the Truth about Abortion,” It is amazing how just keeping the discussion going can move people along in a pro-life direction.

I hope you will take a few minutes and send me some examples of how you have used more than one sense to educate about the humanity of the unborn child.

Send those ideas to

Categories: Pro-Lifers