Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Becoming a Nation of Wusses

The recent report about the reluctance of high school biology teachers to teach evolution really drives me crazy. Again. I think I am most bothered by the 60% of teachers who weasel out of or around the topic because of fear, not their own convictions. It's like librarians who don't buy certain materials because they are afraid they will get into trouble. Sometimes this threat is real, sometimes not, and sometimes it's just projection, the teacher or librarian using an imaginary public to justify his or her own worldview. But if science teachers won't stand up for science, who will?

We've got a great piece coming up in the May issue by Steve Jenkins about the politicization of science and its effect on education. Read it and weep.


kellybarnhill said...

That was the most DEPRESSING THING I've ever read. I think you should have titled it: Dear Biology Teachers: You Suck. Love, Roger.

Jim Randolph said...

That's why I love the NCSE! Bill Nye has some comments about this on their site.

Roger Sutton said...

here's a link to the interview with Nye.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, teachers who are unwilling to teach science have no place in a science classroom, yet there they are. Also depressing is wondering: Where are the administrators who should be making sure that science is being taught?

...and what's up with the professional organizations that should be fighting the good fight? Are they trying and just losing that badly?

I look forward, I think, to the May issue.

--Wanting to shout "AAARRRGGGHH!!!", but sitting quietly at the reference desk between questions,

Anonymous said...


But I'm ridiculously exited to see the Steve Jenkins article!


P.S. My verification word is "deism." Roger, is this rigged?!

Michael Grant said...

This is a real problem. But just one line item on a list of problems with public education.

What's needed is not a few adjustments, more funding or less funding, but a thorough revolution that incorporates the internet, that sharply reduces the obsession with testing, that uses a few great teachers -- empowered by available technology -- to replace the mediocre masses, that undertands that by high school a specific, purpose-built school is largely irrelevant.

The entire premise of school -- that teachers holding a sort of monopoly on data transmit that data to students -- is out of date. Data is everywhere, and mostly free. The job of teachers going forward is to teach epistemology, logic and method, not data. And for God's sake get out of the business of systematically crushing imagination.