[Taxacom] Evolution Education

R J Ferry rferry at miosjournal.org
Fri Feb 4 10:38:49 CST 2011

Fri-04Feb11/1038 local

Like Mark, I tend to lurk much and post little. However, recent 
opinion(s) about the possible advisability of leaving the teaching of 
evolution out of the primary and secondary school systems strikes me 
that it would be a giant step backward! I am both a retired military and 
a retired public school teacher with some college teaching as well. 
Consider this analogy: it's the easiest thing in the world to stop a war 
at any time, all one side has to do is surrender! That would not only 
delight rabid fundamentalists of all stripes, but would inspire them to 
continue and expand their personal jihad aggressions against science in 
general and scientist in particular! I taught biology (and other 
science) for years, and I think many (perhaps even /most/) primary and 
secondary teachers tend to "miss the boat" as they approach "teaching 

Religion, indeed /all/ religions begin with "who did it" and soon 
progress to what your conduct should be. Science is _not_ out to answer 
the "whodunit" question! Science is trying (hopefully with the best and 
most dispassionate logic we can muster) to tell _how it was done_. 
There's a giant-step gap between "whodunit" and "how it was done!" As we 
teach natural history, the devout can point to the magnificence of The 
Creator and the job He/She/They have done /and are continuing to do/. 
The skeptic can continue to question and study! Evolution is what's 
happened and what's continuing to happen,...don't "teach evolution," 
just teach the facts as best we've been able to reason them out.

Mark and I are, I'm sure, in wholehearted agreement that science 
teaching in the primary grades is practically non-existent, and at the 
secondary level is not much different! However, there is a lot of 
mis-teaching due to poor educational background of the ones doing the 
teaching! The curriculum tends to be whatever Holt Rinehart and Somebody 
sells to the state for its school systems. It may have changed recently, 
but in the not distant past an elementary teacher in Texas was 
"certified" to teach science with no more than ten semester hours of 
undergrad science credits. Remember something: "certification" is not a 
pedigree; it's like a dog license that "certifies" an individual to run 
the educational streets!

What could we use? What we could use is (as John Foster Dulles put it 
about US foreign policy years ago) and "agonizing reappraisal" of /what 
and how/ we teach, and the legislative teeth to put it in operation! 
More and more, I advocate getting rid of "teacher's colleges" because 
they're little more than an educational union group governing being 
"certified" to be a teacher,...a principal,...a 
superintendent,...counselor,...on and on! Picture the M.D. who decides 
to take a secondary school job teaching chemistry,...because he doesn't 
have the required education courses, he's hired at 85% of the B.S. 
degree salary until he makes up his "educational deficiencies." As 
yourselves why! Ask your state legislatures: they have the power to run 
the school systems.

I could go on and on, but another version of the short story is simply 
this: instead of ranting "outside the door," how many of us are willing 
to lay aside our bean counting and philosophizing for a few days 
periodically and /go into the public school system /and /try to help/ 
the local science teacher who's in the blackboard jungle and is already 
overburdened with paperwork and would really welcome the "specialist" 
help in whatever your field is? ...and, by the way, do it without pay; 
do it to help a teacher in need!

The years I taught were some of the happiest in my several decades of 
this life. The kids were magnificent,...the administrations generally 
wanted to concentrate on football, bands, and other forms of public 
entertainment because it brought in "local funds." University 
teacher/researchers become almost slaves to the "what's the funding" 
game,...of which the institution takes a big bite "for the use of their 
facilities" which usually means building another building and naming it 
after themselves. Meanwhile, what comes to mind when you hear a 
university's name? Yep! Football. That event where they make the 
students move their cars out of the state-owned parking spot they're 
paying rent to the university for,...so the university can rent it for 
the football fans and pocket the money. Talk about your detailed 
scams,...By the way, who makes the big bucks at the university 
level,...the scientist or the football coach? Where's our local and 
national emphasis? It's that way all over the US. We educate to play! In 
India, China, Mexico (just to note a few), they educate to work. We used 
to say, "Goodbye John, work hard!" Now it's more common to say, "Goodbye 
John, take it easy." Notice the difference in a national attitude?

I've soap-boxed too long. It's time I took Will Rogers advice: "Never 
pass up a good chance to shut up!" I'll close and await the blasts of 
the return flame war.

Bob Ferry, PhD

Victoria, Texas,... where currently it's freezing cold,besides, I've 
orchids to care for and a library of books to dig into.

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