What Would Darwin Think of These Teachers?

In many education circles, we like to use the teaching of creationism in science classes as a punchline.  We thought all of this was solved at the Scopes Monkey Trial.  We’ve seen Inherit the Wind, and thought Clarence Darrow had William Jennings Bryan dead to rights.  Darwin won.  And fish with feet now adorn many a good liberal’s Saab or Volvo.

But then we see reports like that released by ABC News.  Researchers from Penn State surveyed 2,000 high school science teachers last year.  Nearly 1,000 teachers responded.  And they found 12.5 percent of them taught creationism as a “valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species.”  Sixteen percent believe that human beings were created by God within the past 10,000 years.  And teachers who “subscribed” to creationism spent 35 percent fewer hours teaching evolution than their non-creationist colleagues.  Check out the article here — http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=4895114&page=1.

We’d all like to believe that teachers leave their personal opinions and points of view at the classroom door, particularly when it comes to supposedly fact-based courses such as science.  In fact, when we hear about the problems of teacher points of view, we usually think of social studies classes and teaching about wars and social policy issues.  We think of courses on cultural issues and current events and such subjective ones, not biology and the earth sciences.  We’d think wrong.

In an era where students are on the lookout for biased textbooks and teachers with an agenda, it is fascinating that 12.5 percent of teachers are so open with their beliefs and their teaching of creationism.  It is even more interesting that we don’t hear the complaints.  Creationism stories seem to be anecdotal at best.  If we are truly getting creationism lectured in one out of every eight high school science classes, where is the ACLU?  Where are the separation of church and staters?  Where is the liberal conspiracy?

Eduflack was raised in a strong Catholic household.  I spent eight years in CCD.  I learned how God created the heavens and the earth in six days.  But I never heard it in my K-12 experience.  Not in biology, not in chemistry, not in physics (and not even in those social studies classes).  Maybe I was attending one of those seven in eight classes.  Maybe my teachers realized that the science behind evolution was uncontroverted.  Maybe they just followed the texts, and the texts were all Darwin, all the time.  Or maybe, just maybe, we are looking for conspiracies, personal agendas, and things that go bump in the night in places where they just don’t exist. 

Do we really believe their is a national spike in creationism instruction?  Or is this yet another example of individuals telling pollsters what they want to hear (or what they believe and refuse to act on)?  Anyone have data on teachers and creationism from 20 years ago?  Or even 10?  Anyone?

One thought on “What Would Darwin Think of These Teachers?

  1. The only thing that surprises me is that the 12.5% is so low. I would have thought it to be a larger number. Think about it — there are significant regions in our country — such as the bible belt — that scripture is taken literally. Did the survey include private school teachers too? If so, that might also scew the results. Our high school kids graduate today. God is good!Fred DeutschWatertown, SD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s