Creationism and Education ‘Reform’

When it comes to STEM education in grades K-12, one of the great failures of the U.S. educational system is the complete lack of exposure to even the basics of evolutionary biology in science courses. This isn’t just an academic debate, evolutionary biology is a key component of the biotech and genomics revolutions–as I put it, “Doing genomics without evolutionary biology is like drilling for oil with a dowser.” Yet education ‘reformers‘ are absolutely silent when it comes this massive curricular gap.

So we are happy to find this post about the recent Gallup poll that revealed 46 percent of Americans think God created humans in their current form 10,000 years ago:

Every time I hear Arne Duncan go on about NCLB or his Race to the Top and how we ought to be promoting clever ways to give parents more choices outside the public school system in how they teach their children, so as to improve their children’s math and engineering scores, I have to wonder why he just doesn’t make moving the numbers on this chart in a more enlightened direction as a measure of what “success means.” That chart shouts “failure” when I look at [it].

After all, I’m not sure how you expect our kids to keep up with those Chinese wizards in math and science when our own kids have to suffer an existential, emotional breakdown when they’re asked to calculate how long the earth has been here…

There’s a very simple reason why Duncan doesn’t view that as a failure: the underlying assumption of educational reformers is that educational performance has little to do with curriculum, pedagogy, or resources, and everything to do with hiring and firing teachers.

Meanwhile, this is a massive educational failure no one is willing to discuss.

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1 Response to Creationism and Education ‘Reform’

  1. To me, as a science teacher, there is a bigger issue. The statement “America needs more scientists, engineers, and mathematicians” is absolutely not the same as “We must educate everyone in science, engineering, and math.”

    By forcing everyone to take Algebra, for instance, and by expecting everyone to pass an algebra test, we have actually ensured that actual algebra is neither taught nor tested. Real algebra is simply out of the reach of some people. Others who could learn it just don’t care.

    What we need is to educate enough talented people in these technical areas, and at a much higher rate of proficiency than even the best current students achieve. Some of our brightest, abelest kids are bored out of their minds waiting for the rest of their “Algebra II” class to learn to solve PV=nRT for V (a skill my honors chemistry students generally lacked, although they had all passed the algebra test).

    The way to achieve that is to provide an appropriate education for everyone.

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