Texas science education evolves
Thursday marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, commonly referred to as the father of evolutionary theory, a subject of much debate in Texas.
Born in Shrewsbury, England in 1809, Darwin later traveled to the Galapagaos Islands, where his theory on evolution came about.’
Darwin kept his ideas to himself for fear of being viewed as anti-religious, later publishing On the Origin of Species only when his research was about to be usurped. The book became wildly popular, but sparked wrangling between religion and science and fueled many decades of argument.
Darwin’s theory is simple: man evolved from another species during a period of thousands of years. How this highly sensitive subject is presented to school-aged children has been a topic of controversy for decades.’
Texas, in particular, has been trying to find the best method of teaching the origin of man and unfortunately has failed to teach our kids anything.’
University of North Texas physics professor Donald Kobe, however, said it is important to distinguish between evolutionism and creationism from evolution and creation.
‘The first two are philosophies or interpretations, whereas the latter are both scientific concepts,’ Kobe said.
It was hard to remember whether creation or evolution was actually taught during my days in high school.
When looking through old school projects from science at different levels in school, a pattern emerged.’ At all grade levels in high school, not one thing about the origin of humans was mentioned.
Religion was taboo, but it seems Texas educators were more worried about bringing the subject up for fear of opening that big can of worms.
Jan. 23 brought the great debate into the ring once more.’ According to ABC News, 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education elected to eliminate wording that has allowed the standing of evolution in Texas classrooms to be attacked for 20 years.
The offending phrasing gives opportunity for teachers and students to debate ‘strengths and weaknesses’ of scientific theories. In practice, this was used as a pretext to argue lessons on evolution.’
Kobe said the definition of evolution is ‘change over time,’ where evolutionism states that the universe and life exist without purpose. Creationism implies the earth is less than 10,000 years old and God created everything in seven days.
‘I don’t accept either of these,’ Kobe said. ‘I believe that God created the universe at the time of the big bang and has guided its change over time. Science answers the questions of how and when. Christianity answers the questions of why and who.’
As a parent, it is difficult to say how children should be taught about the beginnings of humans. What should be asked is why our kids haven’t been taught this before. Children will hold fast to their beliefs, whether they are church-inspired, book-inspired or self-inspired. It is only when they are made to question their beliefs that they look elsewhere for answers.’
Our schools should offer a simple explanation of both and be thankful our kids are mindful enough to question both ends. This would be a wonderful opportunity for them to bring the day’s lessons home for conversation, debate and, perhaps, reflection.
Alana MousaviDin is a communication senior and may be reached at [email protected]