Saturday, March 26, 2011

Darwin Pushed to the Margins in HS science classes

An excellent but also disturbing interview from Rod Dreher with Eric Plutzer about why American High School teachers are so reluctant to teach evolutionary science in their classrooms. Here's one paragraph to get a sense of the article, but read the whole thing. It offers a convincing explanation as to why our HS science curriculum is so mediocre.

Given that only a relative few high school students will continue on to do college-level work in biology, much less become professional biologists, why do you see this as a serious problem?
We see two distinct issues here. The first is that students are being cheated out of a sound science education. All nations are increasingly confronted with important policy choices that are informed by science: Should we mandate vaccines for all school children? Should we take costly steps to reduce carbon emissions? How can we most effectively reduce the incidence of chronic diseases?  For ordinary citizens to play a meaningful role in democracies tackling these issues, they need to be excellent critical thinkers concerning science. They should not blindly accept scientific findings, whether they come from academia, government or industry. But neither should they believe that scientific debates are simply clashes of opinion and values. A healthy appreciation of the nature of science, the persuasiveness of replication, and respect for the necessary expertise is also essential. When teachers tell their students that they can have their own opinions about the validity of evolutionary biology, they are sending a dangerous message to our future citizens.

I do wish Big Questions Online (BQO) would post more, but they're rather dormant since last summer. But at least when they do post something new, it's usually quite good.

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