Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Are 72% of biology teachers hindering scientific literacy in the US?

arroba Email

Some have described the survey as shocking. The authors of the report are gloomy about their findings. The perceived problem is this: evolutionists have won court cases bearing on the teaching of evolution in schools; state curricular standards have been revised to reinforce the status of evolutionary theory in biology – but despite all this, “considerable research suggests that supporters of evolution, scientific methods, and reason itself are losing battles in America’s classrooms”. The problem is that only 28% of teachers are forthrightly explaining evolutionary biology. The situation is deemed to “expose a cycle of ignorance in which community antievolution attitudes are perpetuated by teaching that reinforces local community sentiment”. The recalcitrant teachers are “hindering scientific literacy in the United States”, failing “to explain the nature of scientific inquiry”, undermining “the authority of established experts”, and legitimizing “creationist arguments, even if unintentionally”.

The sheer magnitude of the “problem” raises the question: have the authors read the situation correctly? Are these teachers really falling down badly in their communication of biological science? Words of commendation are reserved only for the 28% of biology teachers who “consistently implement the major recommendations and conclusions of the National Research Council”. These are said to be “outstanding, effective educators of evolutionary biology”. The rest are made up of 13% “at the opposite extreme” (who are creationists and are willing to present creation or intelligent design in a positive light) and the “cautious 60%” who implement “strategies of emphasizing microevolution, justifying the curriculum on the basis of state-wide tests, or “teaching the controversy”.” John Rennie of Scientific American calls these the “mushy middle“. The difficulty I find with all this relates to the value judgments placed on the actions of educators. Should we rather presume that the majority of both the 60% group and the 13% group are committed teachers who seek to promote a love of biological science in their students? It is far more likely that [the report’s authors] Berkman and Plutzer (and Rennie) are drawing erroneous conclusions from their survey and that their comments undermine and insult the work of thousands of dedicated teachers.

For more, go here.

All I can say is that in nursing school we took a biology course. It was an accelerated program, designed to get as much needed knowledge into our heads as fast as possible. I loved the biology course, even think I might like to have studied biology instead. There was no mention of evolution of Darwin. avocationist
Barb @ 1: Yes, the 23% of teachers who "strongly agreed that evolution served as the unifying theme for their biology or life sciences courses" are the same group as the 28% in the Science report. The evolutionary establishment are clearly troubled by this low figure. If teachers are not persuaded by the relentless propaganda that evolution provides the integrating theme of biology, then it does threaten the stand made by establishment figures. The Phil Skell quote provided by bornagain77 @3 is one I often reflect on! jstanley @ 4: Yes - there are many similarities here. The "consensus" has been engineered and those in leadership roles have much political power (and access to funding). They do not want to lose this. Their arguments do not address the scientific critiques of their position, but are designed to make their own stance secure. They are also targetting education to ensure the next generation toes the line that humanity is responsible for global warming. (Meanwhile, the real environmental issues are neglected). David Tyler
The climate change cabal is clearly ahead of the evolutionists, on the curve about what needs to be done for the sake of "the truth." The problem boils down to how this whole "democracy thing" gives the unqualified rabble too much say-so in important matters like education and the survival of the planet:
[from Patrick J. Michaels at the Washington Times:] November’s election made it quite clear that the people of the United States do not want to radically change our society in the name of global warming. Pretty much every close House race went to the Republicans, while the Democrats won all the Senate squeakers. The difference? The House on June 26, 2009, passed a bill limiting carbon-dioxide emissions and getting into just about every aspect of our lives. The Senate did nothing of the sort. The nation’s most prominent publicly funded climatologist is officially angry about this, blaming democracy and citing the Chinese government as the “best hope” to save the world from global warming. He also wants an economic boycott of the U.S. sufficient to bend us to China‘s will. NASA laboratory head James Hansen‘s anti-democracy rants were published while he was on a November junket in China, but they didn’t get much attention until recently. On Jan. 12, the hyperprolific blogger Marc Morano put them on his Climate Depot site, and within hours, the post went viral...
supplemental notes: "A Masterful Feat of Courtroom Deception": Immunologist Donald Ewert on Dover Trial - audio http://intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/player/web/2010-12-20T15_01_03-08_00 Materialists like to claim evolution is indispensable to experimental biology and led the way to many breakthroughs in medicine, Yet in a article entitled "Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology", this expert author begs to differ. "Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming's discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin's theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No. Philip S. Skell - Professor at Pennsylvania State University. http://www.discovery.org/a/2816 Podcasts and Article of Dr. Skell http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/11/giving_thanks_for_dr_philip_sk040981.html Science Owes Nothing To Darwinian Evolution - Jonathan Wells - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028096 bornagain77
David I think this quote of yours nails it on the head: The point is this: an uncritical approach to teaching Darwinism is indoctrination, not education. The theory deserves to be critiqued whenever it is not supported by evidence and whenever there are alternative ways of understanding the evidence. Similarly, alternatives to Darwinism also deserve to be critiqued. This principle impacts directly on the nature of scientific inquiry - the testing of hypotheses. further note: I think Michael Behe does an excellent job, in this following debate, of pointing out that denying the overwhelming evidence for design in biology makes the science of biology 'irrational'. As well Dr. Behe makes it clear that materialistic evolutionists themselves, by their own admission in many cases, are promoting their very own religious viewpoint, Atheism, in public schools, and are thus in fact violating the establishment clause of the constitution: Should Intelligent Design Be Taught as Science? Michael Behe debates Stephen Barr - 2010 - video http://www.isi.org/lectures/flvplayer/lectureplayer.aspx?file=v000355_cicero_040710.mp4&dir=mp4/lectures bornagain77
Berkman et al (Berkman, M., Pacheco, J., & Plutzer, E. (2008). Evolution and Creationism in America's Classrooms: A National Portrait. PLoS Biology, 6(5), e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060124) noted that in 2007, "Teachers devoted approximately 13.7 hours to discussing evolutionary processes (including human evolution). Only 2% excluded evolution entirely. "Those teachers who stressed evolution by making it the unifying theme of their course spent more time on it. Overall, only 23% strongly agreed that evolution served as the unifying theme for their biology or life sciences courses; these teachers devoted 18.5 hours to evolution, 50% more class time than other teachers. When we asked whether an excellent biology course could exist without mentioning Darwin or evolutionary theory at all, 13% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that such a course could exist (Berkman et al, 2008). The survey continues: “We also asked teachers whether they spent classroom time on creationism or intelligent design. We found that 25% of teachers indicated that they devoted at least one or two classroom hours to creationism or intelligent design. However, these numbers can be misleading because while some teachers may cover creationism to expose students to an alternative to evolutionary theory, others may bring up creationism in order to criticize it or in response to student inquiries.” Barb

Leave a Reply