Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Teachers Intimidated into Ignoring Evolution

We've all heard the news about states with official policies that hinder teaching evolution. But even when evolution is on the curriculum, many teachers don't discuss it because they fear reprisals. As the New York Times reports,

In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue.

Teaching guides and textbooks may meet the approval of biologists, but superintendents or principals discourage teachers from discussing it. Or teachers themselves avoid the topic, fearing protests from fundamentalists in their communities.

"The most common remark I've heard from teachers was that the chapter on evolution was assigned as reading but that virtually no discussion in class was taken," said Dr. John R. Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, an evangelical Christian and a member of Alabama's curriculum review board who advocates the teaching of evolution. Teachers are afraid to raise the issue.

I grew up in a fairly conservative Detroit suburb, and I can distinctly remember one math teacher telling me he believed strongly in creation. I never had a teacher express a strong belief in evolution. This is, oddly, one issue where religious schools tend to be ahead of public schools. Catholicism embraces evolution and therefore Catholic schools do, too. But heavily Protestant public schools shy away from it.

Let's conclude with one more paragraph from the Times story:

There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that all living things evolved from common ancestors, that evolution on earth has been going on for billions of years and that evolution can be and has been tested and confirmed by the methods of science. But in a 2001 survey, the National Science Foundation found that only 53 percent of Americans agreed with the statement "human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals."


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