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Broaden the Tennessee schools bill to include other subjects, says educational psychologist


In Should Creationist Teachers Have Academic Freedom? (Huffington Post, 05/08/2012), David Moshman suggests,

Two changes are needed. First, the laws should not single out particular topics or theories for special question. State legislatures may believe that scientific conclusions about evolution or global warming are more questionable than conclusions in other areas of science, but it is not for them to determine this. Science educators should discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of all ideas that merit such treatment.

Second, the laws should not single out science. There is no reason to suggest to students that what they learn in history or literature classes is the unquestioned truth or that scientific knowledge is less justified or more controversial than other knowledge. Teachers should be free to present the strengths and weaknesses of all ideas in all areas of study, and students should be encouraged to think critically in all their classes.

In addition to enhancing education, generalizing these laws protects them from constitutional challenge.

He’s onto something there, but with freedom comes the responsibility to both practise and teach critical thinking.

The question teachers must wrestle with is, what is fact base, and what is interpretation? A fair amount of knowledge and judgement is needed these days, but them’s the apples.

News, there is an excellent reason to identify specific, typical areas: yardstick words, which give specific teeth to the etc term. We mean a, b, c, and the like, as areas where the problem is especially relevant. Vagueness leaves room for pretence that it does not apply. The yardsticks give bite and that is exactly why they are objected to. Similarly, no-one is intimidating literature teachers etc -- notice the yardstick! -- to suppress controversies. Then also the reference to "creationist teachers" is loaded and given the specific prohibition on non-scientific matters (which in context definitely implies this) the insinuation is improper. KF kairosfocus

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