This is eye-popping unbelievable:
With no school policy to back him up, he spent less time on the subject than he would have liked. And he bit back his irritation at Teresa Yancey, a biology teacher down the hall who taught a unit she called “Evolution or NOT.”
Animals do adapt to their environments, Ms. Yancey tells her students, but evolution alone can hardly account for the appearance of wholly different life forms. She leaves it up to them to draw their own conclusions. But when pressed, she tells them, “I think God did it.”It's impossible for students to receive good science education if the teacher doesn't understand what science is in the first place.
Most of the article follows David Campbell a biology teacher who played a role in determining the new evolution standards, as he tries his best to explain evolution as theory and fact. Many students are not convinced. How can they when:
But in a nation where evangelical Protestantism and other religious traditions stress a literal reading of the biblical description of God’s individually creating each species, students often arrive at school fearing that evolution, and perhaps science itself, is hostile to their faith.
Some come armed with “Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution,” a document circulated on the Internet that highlights supposed weaknesses in evolutionary theory. Others scrawl their opposition on homework assignments. Many just tune out.There is serious indoctrination of children in dogmatic beliefs by church and at home. It's an uphill battle but one that science must win to prevent an entire generation growing up without a proper understanding of how the natural world works and how humans are an integral part of it.
On a related but different note, Selva asked in response to my post on astrology and earthquakes
Why do so many seemingly educated people - people who have been trained in the scientific method - have a soft spot for astrology in India.
The article was about an engineer and aspiring astrologer and if by educated people Selva meant engineers and doctors, my answer would be that it is so because many educated people, often those with higher technical degrees have never really received an education in the scientific method. You may well receive a degree with distinction in Engineering or even Medicine but that does not necessarily mean you have a training in the scientific method. Technical degrees don't spend any time on this kind of education.
Add to that is the pervasive influence of religion and mysticism children experience in our society. The rot probably starts at school level. We just don't have a systematic, aggressive science education programme to combat beliefs like astrology. I won't be surprised at all if many teachers in India express an "Astrology is a science" opinion similar to the "I think God did it" belief of Ms. Yancey of Florida. We may not teach astrology in school but we don't provide students with training to critically analyze pseudo-scientific claims either.