Teaching Human Evolution at a Public University in Boston

“Evolutionary theory should be taught in public schools because it is one of the most important scientific theories ever generated, and because it is the accepted scientific explanation for the diversity of life.”

…………………………………-Statement from The Society for the Study of Evolution

The Naked Ape (the one on the right)

An article published this week in Science revealed the results of a survey of 926 U.S. high school biology teachers. The authors, Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer of Penn State, found that only 28% of teachers “unabashedly introduce evidence that evolution has occurred and craft(ed) lesson plans… that evolution is a theme that unifies disparate topics in biology” (Berkman and Plutzer, 2011).

Shockingly, 13% of teachers advocated creationism or intelligent design in the classroom, but most (who the authors termed “the cautious 60%”) were “neither strong advocates for evolutionary biology nor explicit endorsers of nonscientific alternatives.” The authors suggested that the ambivalence of some biology teachers could be due to a lack of confidence in their knowledge of evolution, a desire to shy away from controversy, or a conviction that students should be exposed to various ideas and then allowed to make up their own minds. These numbers should make biology teachers pause and reflect on where we are as educators, 150+ years after Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species.

Continue reading