Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I'm glad I don't teach high school biology in this country!

Because I don't have to worry about adhering to some "science standard" set by the whims of uneducated but elected school-board members, rather than the well-established and thoroughly peer-reviewed knowledge accumulated by my scientist colleagues over the past century and a half since Darwin published his Origin! This story in the NYT over the weekend, about a Florida school teacher's struggle to teach Evolution properly in his classroom, is another reason why I respect educators like Mr. David Campbell, and my local friend Scott Hatfield. I'm not sure I'd have the patience or perseverance to keep at it if I was constantly being discouraged from mentioning the e-word by my bosses, challenged by ignorant parents who would rather have me re-affirm their kids' beliefs than teach them the best knowledge in science, and showed up by my own fellow biology teachers teaching creationism down the hall from my classroom!! I don't know how they do it, but these schoolteachers are real heroes of the embattled enlightenment in this country, and my hat is off to them. again. If it were me, I'd have given up long ago and headed back home to India, where this issue never came up throughout my education!

And those of you students taking my classes this semester, please do read the entire NYT article. And watch the accompanying video. I am aware that there are at least some high school biology teachers right here in the Fresno-Clovis school districts, and elsewhere in the central valley, who dance around California's science standards and avoid teaching evolution as much as they can. While I'm happy to provide remedial education if you suffered under such a teacher, I also hope such teachers didn't kill your scientific curiosity and critical thinking abilities entirely! You will certainly need to switch those on to make the most of my classes.


Black Lotus August 27, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

First off, why do we have school boards determining what is taught in the first place? How much science do they know?

The state of education in science is lacking for sure. The problem goes beyond just the elected members of school boards. What we really need is a plain set of standards set out by the leading scientists in the research field. The science community also needs support from the general population. Most people have no idea what scientists do both because we do not inform them well enough, and they just don't care to learn. It is a shame that so much of this country needs science to get through their day, but have no desire to learn how it works.

The thing that may save us is lifting the standards for science competency for both the teacher and the student. I have met Hatfield before and he really knew his stuff...but sadly he is a rare example. How many HS biology teachers could explain epigenetics, biomechanics, or even simple cancer research? Probably one in 100, if that.


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