Evolution and education — advice for teachers

By Ken Perrott 08/09/2011 2


Creationists have far less influence in New Zealand than they do in the US. Still, quite a large proportion of Christians here do not accept evolutionary science. So, I imagine, their wish to undermine the teaching of evolutionary science sometimes becomes an issue, for some teachers.

Here’s a couple of videos prepared by the US National Center for Science Education (NCSE) which does a great job in the US. They are of a talk given by NCSE programs and policy director Steve Newton to an audience of high school teachers from across the US.

Steve covers questions like:

  • What challenges do biology teachers face from creationists?
  • How do you respond to students asking the “10 questions”?
  • What are the different flavors of creationist belief?
  • And other issues.

Teaching evolution in a climate of science denial, Part 1.

Part 2: Teaching evolution in a climate of science denial, Part 2.

See also: NCSE YouTube Channel

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2 Responses to “Evolution and education — advice for teachers”

  • Thanks for this Ken
    “quite a large proportion of Christians here do not accept evolutionary science”
    Not my impression (quite the opposite in fact). However, I’ve not seen any numbers from surveys. Do you have any?
    When Chaplain at the ChCh College of Ed I was invited to participate in a class of prospective teachers doing a science unit specifically to respond to those uncomfortable with evolutionary science. So, the issue is real for some teachers.
    I expect that the issue is real for some parents, but I do not hear too much of what happens in school in NZ on that issue. However, I note that a lot of the parents who choose to homeschool are keen creationists. This concerns me that whilst homeschooling produces better academic results on average than “normal” schooling, it may be that there is a distortion around science.

  • Kiwisiki – I estimated a few years ago that about 40% of NZ Christians support creationism (see New Zealand supports evolution). I was basing that on data from the UMR Research Survey: Morality, Religion and Evolution.

    I think that there is also another issue where relgious views tend to interfere with the understanding of science. I have heard liberal christians stongly say they “believe in “evolution. but then go on to say it was their god’s method of acheiving a sort of purpose.

    To me that implies a huge misunderstanding of the scientific concept of evoltuion which is based on development arising out of living things themselves. As Dennett points out – using cranes, rather than sky-hooks.

    The skyhooks approach has largely left understanding of other sciences (cosmology appears to be an exception, though) but still lingers on in biology.