Science curriculum revisers hit an unexpected academic problem
On Thursday, I testified in Austin, Texas about the latest skirmish over how evolution is taught in Texas public high schools. I want it taught, warts and all. Darwinists want it taught as airbrushed and unquestionable dogma.
The state school board meeting was called to consider initial steps to streamline the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Streamlining is fine, in principle. The problem is that some of the proposed changes to the evolution section water down four passages that call on students to learn about, analyze and evaluate some of the growing evidential challenges to modern evolutionary theory.
So, for instance, what are we to make of the sudden appearance of new species and fundamentally new body plans in the fossil record? Neo-Darwinism says these animal forms evolved very gradually as part of the evolutionary tree of life, but the pattern in the geological column paints a different picture. Shouldn’t biology students be able to exercise their critical thinking skills by wrestling with this conundrum? The majority on the biology committee weren’t keen on that idea. They struck the sudden appearance language from the TEKS and argued that high school students aren’t mature enough to hear about it and ask intelligent questions. Not “developmentally appropriate,” the committee report said.
And, besides, said Karyn Ard, the chair of the biology curriculum review committee, there’s not enough time to cover it during the school year. There’s too much other material they have to cover. Ditto the growing mystery surrounding the origin of the first life.
Since I substitute taught in the Austin Independent School District for a year before I started graduate school, I could sympathize with Ard when she emphasized the wide disparity in student ability and the challenge teachers face to cover all the assigned material adequately. At the same time, the very real effect of the committee’s streamlining is to get rid of just those areas that best expose kids to the growing evidential challenges facing evolution, while leaving behind all kinds of pro-Darwinian propaganda woven into the fabric of the leading high school biology textbooks.
This article continues at [Stream.org] Texas Committee: High Schoolers Can’t Handle Evidence Against Darwinism