This issue has several essays by teachers in public schools. I was especially struck by this one:
I am a special education teacher in a middle school, though, and not an education policy expert or cabinet level economic advisor. Although I care deeply about the future of our planet and our nation’s economy, my most immediate concerns are about the students in my class and how to get them interested in science. The big reasons for incorporating evolution more coherently into science curricula outlined above, however true, carry little weight for a bored seventh grader with minimal interest in science and no desire to pursue biology as a career. There are other reasons why evolution should be taught as the unifying theory of biology that it is: it is a truthful representation of what we have learned through investigation, it is intuitive and evident all around us, it ties otherwise disparate units of study together, and, most importantly, it is a great story….
And this, to me, is the best reason of all to teach evolution: it is such a great story. As Darwin himself famously said, “There is grandeur in this view of life.” Students need their teachers to help them get excited about the material they are learning. Rote memorization and chapter-by-chapter examinations of what is happening outside the window may work for advanced placement students, but they are rarely effective for special needs or at-risk kids. Students with a limited interest in science and a diminishing dedication to their education need more than to be told what they must learn to pass some state exam. They need to have their interest captured, to have their imaginations sparked. What better way to do this than by tying all aspects of the curriculum together with a unifying theme? Evolution is a story, after all. It is the story of what we have learned so far through scientific investigation about who we are, where we came from, and how we fit in to the world. It explains so much. It is so evident. It is so testable and provable. It is quickly becoming the greatest story ever told, and we should tap into its power to help our students learn.
Well done, sir!
Eldredge, G. (2009). Why I Teach Evolution Evolution: Education and Outreach, 2 (3), 342-346 DOI: 10.1007/s12052-009-0160-1