Off to See the Teacher(s)
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One part really struck me:
More than anything else, though, I had a lot of conversations with teachers who related stories about the dificulty of teaching evolution these days. Many teachers told us that every semester when they get to the evolution unit, they would inevitably get phone calls from parents either demanding that their child be given an alternate assignment or condemning them for teaching a "myth" and demanding that it be "balanced" with the teaching of some form of creationism.Amen. There should be a project to distribute a "Teaching Evolution 101" handbook to every primary and secondary science teacher in America. First page:
When asked how they handled such calls, responses varied. Some were more animated in their responses than others. One or two said that they just don't bother to teach it anymore, they just teach about the basic facts and don't really discuss evolution as a unifying explanation for those facts. One man told us that he actually does present both sides, that he shows a video called Evolution: Fact or Belief?, a young earth creationist video, to his class along with evolution. Another said that he lets his students present their views to the class in a presentation.
But most said that they just explained to the parents that they had no choice but to teach the approved curriculum, which includes evolution, and that they would have to take it up with the parents. I was a little discouraged by the responses. I think we need to work with teachers to help them respond in a more positive way. Almost every high school biology teacher has to deal with some sort of negative reaction every time they teach it, so we need to help them respond to such reactions without rancor or condescension but also without giving in to the demands.
When faced with the question of whether evolution is a fact, the correct response is: "Evolution is a scientific theory, much like atomic theory or germ theory. Translated into laymen's terms, evolution is true, creationism isn't, deal with it."Okay, maybe not so flippiant, but you get the idea. Include responses to the most common creationist tripe, lists of online resources, and a section of how evidence from various sections of the standard curriculum supports evolution.