What About Teaching Evolution

Continuing my discussion of living science texts for kids:

Regarding evolution- I think kids should be taught what other people believe and why- how in depth is possibly subject for debate, but I don’t think either side should be utterly ignorant about the other’s beliefs in as fair minded a way as we can manage. I also think it’s not doing your kids any favors if you are in the minority side not to educate them a lot about the majority beliefs, even if you are 100% correct about your minority view point (minority or majority is irrelevant to right or wrong).

I’m not going to go into a lot of deep detail about what I think, because it’s really irrelevant here, and that is kind of my point.  I do get tired of books that are insistently so dogmatic about billions of years or thousands of years and hard core macro evolution or no evolution that they drag it in where it really is not relevant to that specific subject. Whatever the current ideas are about how a plant might have evolved from goo to buttercup or might have been created on the fifth day as a fully formed buttercup- I don’t care. I don’t want them squished in to a book about plants today and how to tell them apart. Those views are not really relevant to what kids would want to know or even need to know about identifying buttercups and telling them apart from cinquefoil or mustard or wood sorrel or photosynthesis or plant propagation. 

The same for clouds- you don’t need six chapters on evolution and flatly stated claims about billions of years (or six thousand years) with a paragraph or two in every chapter about billions of years ago (or the second day of Creation) in order to know the difference between cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, cumulus or whatever and what it means. You can discus the formation of clouds and teach the skill of recognizing the various types of clouds and what they mean for the weather without ever pushing one point of view or the other. You can be right or wrong about evolution and the age of the earth and it will be totally irrelevant to whether the constellation you are looking at is Orion or Leo or the Southern Cross. I could go on and on- what we see in most textbooks and even zoo and museum exhibits from either side is no longer education, but propaganda. This heavy handed approach isn’t even very useful for whatever cause you espouse. Usually in the end it will create more people skeptical about your pet point than not because people naturally push back against propaganda.

So basically, I think that it’s over-done in secular books and I believe it’s over compensated for in Christian books.   It would be so simple a matter, I would think, to say something like, “At the time I’m writing this, most scientists think  X,y, and z, and you are likely to need to know this is what they believe, whether you believe it yourself or not…. but you should also remember this is the best information about what most scientists believe today, and the best information was different 20 years ago and will be different again- this is why we continue to study, read, think and learn about this amazing and wonderful world and all the things in it.” But apparently, that is entirely too much to ask for.

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  1. Posted July 14, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I hear you on this! What I would love to find is a some good science curriculum that addresses both sides respectfully, when necessary (not when it’s irrelevant) without taking sides.

    • Headmistress
      Posted July 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      I agree!

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