Thursday, January 27, 2011

Few Believe Evolution Enough to Teach It: Study

Penn State political scientists have found that only 28% of high school biology teachers properly indoctrinate students, by presenting evolution as a fact of history, as demanded by the National Research Council. The study authors say that government should force the teachers.

-- From "High school biology teachers reluctant to endorse evolution in class" posted at 1/27/11

The majority of public high school biology teachers are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology, despite 40 years of court cases that have ruled teaching creationism or intelligent design violates the Constitution, according to Penn State political scientists. A mandatory undergraduate course in evolutionary biology for prospective teachers, and frequent refresher courses for current teachers, may be part of the solution, they say.

"Considerable research suggests that supporters of evolution, scientific methods, and reason itself are losing battles in America's classrooms," write Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, professors of political science at Penn State, in today's (Jan. 28) issue of Science.

The researchers examined data from the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, a representative sample of 926 public high school biology instructors. They found only about 28 percent of those teachers consistently implement National Research Council recommendations calling for introduction of evidence that evolution occurred, and craft lesson plans with evolution as a unifying theme linking disparate topics in biology.

In contrast, Berkman and Plutzer found that about 13 percent of biology teachers "explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light." Many of these teachers typically rejected the possibility that scientific methods can shed light on the origin of the species, and considered both evolution and creationism as belief systems that cannot be fully proven or discredited.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Training teachers to take on the creationism/evolution battle" by Yun Xie, posted at ARS Technica 1/27/11

[The Penn State study showed that a] majority of teachers (60 percent) taught evolution cautiously, allowing room for debate and doubt. [13%] of the teachers openly advocated creationism.

The [study] authors propose that it is possible to persuade those timid teachers to become advocates of evolution, as the teachers do not exhibit strong conservative markers like believing that the universe is only 10,000 years old. Berkman and Plutzer suggest that the main cause of the problem is that these teachers lack confidence in their grasp of evolutionary biology.

Many of these teachers lack the educational expertise to defend evolution, so they resort to dodging the creationism vs. evolution "controversy" altogether. Some of them shift the blame of having to teach evolution to state examinations, while pointing out to students that they do not need to actually believe it. Other teachers focus on molecular evolution, avoiding macroevolution of species, which prevents students from understanding the complete picture. Finally, some teachers like to provide students with both sides of the discussion and allow students to draw their own conclusions. Berkman and Plutzer find this last approach particularly worrisome, as it gives students the impression that a well-established concept, which is supported by thousands of scientific papers, is debatable based on personal opinions.

To reduce the harmful effects of teaching evolution in an ambivalent way, Berkman and Plutzer recommend requiring biology teachers to take a course in evolution. They argue that if teachers are armed with knowledge, they will be better equipped to stand up to arguments from students and parents.

To read a lengthy interview with the Penn State study authors, in the article above, CLICK HERE.

If you wonder about totalitarianism and indoctrination in American education, you'll want to read both of the above articles in full -- follow the links.

UPDATE 12/31/13: Most Americans Reject Godless Theory of Evolution