Still more "central to biology" claptrap
The National Academy of Sciences calls evolution “the central concept of biology” , and three respected national organizations have provided model high school curriculum guidelines with evolution as a unifying theme [7–9] . . . ..
Community pressures place significant stress on teachers as they try to teach evolution, stresses that can lead them to de-emphasize, downplay, or ignore the topic . This is particularly true of the many teachers who lack a full understanding of evolution, or at least confidence in their knowledge of it. Such a lack of confidence can lead teachers to avoid confrontations with students, parents, and the wider community. They may, for example, not treat evolution as the class's organizing principle, or may avoid effective hands-on activity to teach it, or not ask students to apply natural selection to real life situations  . . . . .
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 (Table S2); 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.
Well, it's good to know that "only 23% strongly agreed that evolution served as the unifying theme for their biology or life sciences courses," though a larger number might think that evolution is the unifying theme. And assuming one hour per class, 18.5 hours devoted to evolution amounts to nearly four weeks! That's disgusting. I don't even remember studying evolution at all when I was in high school in the early 1960's.
. . . .there are three widely circulated documents that serve as guidelines at the national level [6–8] . . . . all three of these reports expect and recommend a substantial investment in evolutionary biology and evolution-related topics. All expect science teachers to “provide evidence that evolution has attained its status as a unifying theme in science”.
However, the article reported some positive news:
Our survey of biology teachers is the first nationally representative, scientific sample survey to examine evolution and creationism in the classroom. Three different survey questions all suggest that between 12% and 16% of the nation's biology teachers are creationist in orientation. Roughly one sixth of all teachers professed a “young earth” personal belief, and about one in eight reported that they teach creationism or intelligent design in a positive light. The number of hours devoted to these alternative theories is typically low—but this nevertheless must surely convey to students that these theories should be accorded respect as scientific perspectives.
These Darwin-doubting biology teachers have at least some knowledge of biology and do not fit the stereotypes of Darwin doubters as being ignorant rednecks and hillbillies.
The statement that evolution is "central to biology" simply isn't true. There are lots of things in biology where evolution is simply irrelevant. That "central to biology" statement is at least partly intended to be -- in the words of Kansas Univ. professor Paul Mirecki -- "a nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies" and other critics of evolution theory. Opponents of Darwinist dogma need to make opposition to this "central to biology" claptrap a top priority.
The following chart is from the article:
Figure 2. High School Biology Teachers' Personal Beliefs Concerning Human Origins, Compared with a Representative Sample of the General Public, Spring 2007
Our teachers were each asked a question about their own personal beliefs about human origins. This question is identical to a question that major polling organizations have asked members of the general public since 1981 . Figure 2 compares the results for our sample of teachers surveyed during March and April of 2007 with the results of a public opinion poll conducted for Newsweek on March 28–29 of 2007 (see Table S4). Among the biology teachers, 16% believed that human beings were created by God in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years (and an additional 9% declined to answer). Although this is a far smaller proportion than found among the general public (48%), our data demonstrate substantial sympathy for the “young earth” creationist position among nearly one in six members of the science teaching profession. The teachers who chose the “young earth” creationist position devoted 35% fewer class hours to evolution than all other teachers (Table S5).
Labels: Evolution education (new #2)