amandac777: (Default)
[personal profile] amandac777
Quick question, possibly aimed more at the Brits on my flist.

My understanding is that the whole "evolution vs. creationism" debate, which tends to be a pretty massive issue in schools in America, is a complete non-issue in most other Western countries, yes? Moreover, I've gotten the impression that said other countries (the UK being the one I'm most aware of), tend to laugh at us because of this, or scoff at our schools, or something along those lines.

Does anyone know where I could quickly find any articles or other vaguely reliable/notable sources that would either discuss this or, just as good, demonstrate it?


Date: 2009-07-31 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm trying to imagine a similar debate that would come up for your chemistry classes. I think it would need to involve phlogiston.

Date: 2009-08-01 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I had to look that up to remind myself what it was, but quite probably, yes.

I'm working on my research paper for my Diversity and Democracy in Education class -- on the one hand, I've picked a topic that I know well and feel strongly about. On the other, I'm taking the side of the argument that, on the surface, looks like I'm arguing *against* diversity and democracy. Yay! (Also, I have neither the time nor the page space to *really* give the topic as full a treatment as I'd like.)

Date: 2009-07-31 04:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm trying to remember if we've had this debate but, seriously, I think it was just as 'Some people believe this' 'And other people believe this' covered in like... one lesson in year nine RE or something.

But I'm not sure about sources...

Date: 2009-08-01 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
See, that seems totally appropriate to me. There are even things I could see students reasonably debating and getting really into in comparative religion or philosophy classes. Unfortunately, those classes don't exist in the vast majority of American public (state-run) schools. Lots of private schools have religion classes of some sort, but then it's rather hard to know how many of them are teaching what "some people believe" or genuinely discussing related issues and how many are teaching, "No, this is true, and it's Science! Really, it is!!"

Year 9 is 13-14 year-olds, right? Thanks for the input. :-)

Date: 2009-07-31 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here are three articles from the Guardian - there are at least 6,000 secondary schools in the UK - that should put the figure in the first one into perspective...

The main thing in those is that you can see that the general attitude is WTF?

If the subject ever does crop up in everyday life it seems as if schools that do teach creationism are not only a tiny minority but they are mainly Muslim faith schools.

And an article from The Times which is also pretty clear that main stream opinion is; if it is mentioned, it should only be in RE lessons, and be alongside the teachings of the Buddha, or the beliefs of Hindus on reincarnation -

Generally, and remember I am actually a Church elder - we are gobsmacked at the attitude in the USA that creationism should be taught in science lessons - it is as pstscrpt says, or if we taught junior doctors the theory of the four humours and asked them to base all their treatments on it...

Date: 2009-08-01 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, that's *exactly* what I was looking for. :-D The third Guardian article should be especially helpful.

The Times one was interesting, if a little strange -- it seemed like people were saying it should be taught as a religious belief, but *in* science class, which makes no sense given that UK schools generally have RE classes. I have a feeling I'll probably wind up discussing it briefly every year, being very, very clear about its standing as religion, precisely because we *don't* have RE or similar classes, and chances are high that if I don't at least acknowledge it, a significant portion of my students will just ignore me on the grounds that I'm attacking their beliefs and/or talking nonsense. :-( (Also, from the same article, Prof-Rev. Reiss saying, "Just because something lacks scientific support doesn’t seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson" -- somehow, that seems like a pretty good reason to me.)

I really didn't know whether to laugh or cry at that second article. The Loch Ness Monster?? Seriously??? Um, even if you posit that there is, somehow, exactly one plesiosaur living in a Scottish lake 65 million years after the rest of its species went extinct, that would still do nothing at all to disprove evolution. And no transitional fossils? Way to outright lie, blatantly and flagrantly. Usually that claim gets phrased as "no missing links," because the term is less scientific, so harder to point out the obvious wrongness. But anyway...

FYI, the American government *also* says that you can't teach creationism or intelligent design as science (via the courts -- politicians are far more variable), most curriculum standards require understanding of evolution, and every professional board/society is highly adamant about lots of evolution, no creationism. That doesn't stop a significant proportion of biology teachers from teaching creationism/ID anyway, and plenty of others just avoid evolution or spend very little time on it in order to avoid the controversy, which isn't exactly helpful.


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