I have an evolution poster in my classroom. I teach both biology and AP Environmental Science, and it is part of the curriculum for both classes. Recently on a science teacher message board, I inquired about activities for teaching evolution, after noticing a few students in class commenting on the poster.
To my surprise and dismay, I had one teacher reply along the lines of the following:
I do not teach evolution in class as there are too many pit-falls. I talk about DNA/RNA/proteins and mutations, and that’s where we stop. The students are sometimes disappointed because they wanted to discuss or even argue about evolution. If I were you, I’d take that poster down.
There are so many things I believe are wrong with this. Where to begin…
First of all, I don’t know where this person teaches, or exactly which courses this person teaches, but teaching evolution is indeed a standard that must be taught in many classes, and as far as I know, in every state. Chances are good that this person is completely ignoring something they are required to teach.
Secondly, I find it sad that science teachers are scared to deal with the issue. Whether one is scared of the students, the parents, other teachers, or whatever, evolution is a huge part of biology and science in general, and should be taught. We’re doing a disservice in preparing our students for the future by skipping such a central, unifying concept in science.
Third, even if this teacher happens to be one that does not agree with evolutionary theory, I still contend what I stated in point 2 above–by not teaching the theory, you’re doing an educational disservice to your students. After I teach evolutionary theory, if a student still disagrees with it, then at least I’ve taught them what the theory REALLY teaches, and perhaps they’ll be better equipped to argue with it, if they so choose.
Arg. I’ll end this post feeling frustrated, but at least a little less so now that I’ve vented about it.
*Update: AAAAAANNNNDDDD the frustration comes roaring back. I actually just got a message from another member explaining to me the nature of the controversy. All I can do is stare with my jaw open at the screen. Seriously, are there so many people out there that do not understand why some students don’t “believe” in evolution that this person feels the need to explain the issue??? Well, at least they followed it up with some actual suggestions, rather than just saying, “Don’t teach it”.