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Teachers Back Away From Evolution In Class

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the jesus-rode-dinosaurs dept.

Education 947

RedEaredSlider writes "A study (abstract) from Penn State shows that a lot of teachers — some 60 percent — are reluctant to teach evolutionary theory in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material (as not every biology teacher was a science major). It shows the importance, the authors say, of training teachers well before they step into the class."

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Not a science major? (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031170)

How can one be a Biology teacher without having a major in at least one of the sciences? Sad. Schools ought to demote these persons to HomeEc or English, and hire some actual degreed science majors to do the teaching.

Maybe they can't do that because of Union rules.

Re:Not a science major? (4, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031242)

I think it's probably because most science majors don't go into teaching. From what limited information I gleaned from some of my friends who are teachers, a lot of them have some sort of general education degree rather than a specialized background. Unlike other developed countries (especially the ones who kick our butts in education), we don't recruit teachers from the top of the graduating classes in their fields, which is why we have such terrible science education.

Re:Not a science major? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031336)

I hate to say this but as someone from another "developed" country I can't see that we do things differently.

Re:Not a science major? (3, Insightful)

lneely (1979058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031680)

An English major with an accurate understanding of the sciences should certainly be allowed to teach to the level of his comprehension, though a science graduate should obviously be preferred. The real reason teachers fail their students is because most of them, 90% or more in my own district, would sooner cheat them out of a proper education than risk their careers to even a minimum extent. They concern themselves only with how they look to their overpaid administrators so that they, themselves, will one day be overpaid administrators. And so on, and on, and on...

Re:Not a science major? (0, Troll)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031270)

Maybe they can't do that because people just aren't interested in becoming teachers anymore. If you think a biology teacher not majoring in science is bad... well, I sure hope you don't discover all the other non-degreed employees in the education system that are teaching classes every day because schools are shorthanded and poorly resourced.

But yeah, you're right, the union is partially to blame. They've created a work environment that is one of the most absurd I've ever been exposed to. I'm still at a loss why the unions don't have to uphold a fiduciary responsibility to the students their members are hired to serve.

Oh dear. Anti-union BS alert! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031440)

Oh dear. Anti-union BS alert! So the unions have been calling for larger classes and lower pay for teachers, yes? After all, that's one reason for poor recruitment (just ask any HR department on their hiring technique for the upper management).

And I guess that it was the unions insisting on paedo suspicions on all teachers, annual checks on the background and the continuous persecution of teachers, yes?

Unions also made parents toss lawsuits and complaints at teachers who didn't give their little dahling an A in class?

I guess it must also be the unions that insist that unruly kids cannot be punished or dealt with by expulsion too?

If the union is "partly to blame", then it's MOSTLY government and busybody parents who are to blame, since THEY are the ones who generate the most absurd environment possible for teachers.

Re:Oh dear. Anti-union BS alert! (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031656)

Hey, I am only speaking from first-hand experience. I watched day after day of our students not being given ANY kind of educational materials (student computers, text books, and in many cases, kids didn't even have desks to sit in) because the district couldn't afford those materials after being forced (by the union) to provide teachers with brand new high-end computers (without any internet connection, ironically), expensive desks and chairs, not to mention the union mandated meetings... which were always during school hours, and always required staff to find substitutes or other means to keep their class busy while they go and schmooze around eating free doughnuts and coffee.

And yes, I said partially... there are a lot of factors at play, most of them revolving around either bureaucratic waste or the high cost of having to maintain legal counsel, and the union has a hand deep into both of those. You seem to think that unions have no involvement in the classroom dynamic, and I have to tell you, it couldn't be further from the truth. But, I guess if you were a student without a desk, or a book, or a computer, you'd probably just sit there and behave like a good little Johnny.

I'm all for unions in industries where employee abuse is common. Education is not one of them.

What an Absolutely Clueless Response (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031278)

How can one be a Biology teacher without having a major in at least one of the sciences? Sad. Schools ought to demote these persons to HomeEc or English, and hire some actual degreed science majors to do the teaching.

Maybe they can't do that because of Union rules.

Wow. It's pretty evident you don't understand what's happening in schools in America.

Having dated a couple teachers, let me explain to you how it works. If you're a teacher (and I'm talking grade school or high school) you get shit on. You don't get paid shit and your 'customer' treats you like shit. What's worse is that you cannot refuse your customer and it's your duty to make sure no child is left behind.

So let's say you get a degree in biology. Any lab job or anything else will pay much better right off the bat than a teaching position in grade or high school. Why anybody would get a degree in education is beyond me. Most teachers I think are psychology or sociology majors that, if they teach something like biology, have taken some specialized courses in teaching that material. Not actual high level biology coursework -- because they're not teaching that to students.

Your attempt to blame this on the unions amuses me. Public schools don't make money. That's not what they're there for. They're not some corporation or car manufacturer, they're a public utility that provides a human right to education. As such when a school is operating in the red, it would normally be really tempting to just cut teacher's wages. The unions are there to prevent crap like that from happening. Furthermore, they can't walk away from a customer so really bad interactions occur. And the unions are there to make sure that the teachers have the appropriate representation and responses. Schools don't compete with each other for the best students like a manufacturer competes for customers. The same can be said of hospitals and nursing unions. I don't know how a union would make sure that you can't teach Biology without being a Biology major.

The fact is that teachers have a really crappy job, they don't get paid much and that's why you don't see someone graduating with a Masters of Science in physics to go teach fourth graders science. Maybe you pay extra to send your kid to a magnate school or some private school where they guarantee that the teachers are such distinguished individuals but certainly not a public schools and until you're willing to pay a lot more in taxes to make those jobs desirable to such a graduate, I'd shut up.

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (4, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031376)

It's just ridiculous how the popular political pinata today seems to be teacher's unions. I still can't believe that people complain that they're overpaid. If anything, compared to the highest ranking countries in terms of education, they're way underpaid and undervalued. As you said, they get paid peanuts, especially in the first few years, which isn't very conducive for retaining new teachers. A lot of them also work in dangerous schools, their students don't respect them, and they get grief from the parents who foist off all educational responsibility onto the teacher.

Schools should be cathedrals to learning, but so many politicians in America would rather see it turned into an outhouse.

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031506)

It's also ridiculous that teacher's unions require teachers to be given things like brand new $2000 computers that have no Internet connection, sofas, fancy desks, etc. while students are not given any form of text book.

True story, and it lasted nearly an entire school year.

It doesn't surprise me that the successful private school I used to work for was ruined in less than one school year after teachers were allowed to join the union. It

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031690)

Schools should be cathedrals to learning, but so many politicians in America would rather see it turned into an outhouse.

With so many people in prison for the profit of those penal institutions, perhaps that is a better way to prepare them for their future.

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031496)

Sounds like a MONOPOLY problem to me. If there were true competition (attend any school you want - like in the EU), then schools would be forced to hire better teachers and provide higher salaries, or else end-up like Circuit City or Wards or Atari (bankrupt).

But since there isn't any competition, the schools are free to devolve to the same level as Comcast (the lowest-scoring company in customer satisfaction).

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (1)

sheltond (252356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031662)

> attend any school you want - like in the EU

I can't speak for the rest of the EU, but this certainly isn't the way it works in England.

Most schools (especially the good ones) are so oversubscribed that although you can apply for entry to whichever schools you want, you will be extremely lucky to get in if you don't live in the designated catchment area, so effectively you are being assigned to a school without any choice.

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031528)

    To be sure, a large part of this is on families and parents for not raising children who care or can pay attention. Kids with no consequences grow up to be little monsters. Our media and our parents fuel this crap by selling "me first" and "me only" in the form of outlandish television, movies, journalism, etc. Parents (probably working in the private sector) are working long hours and ignoring their kids by choice or by necessity. Throw into the mix shitty teachers being protected by union mafia(I'm sorry but unions don't have education on their mind - it's protectionism and politics all the way), good teachers being driven away or losing motivation by way of the shitty protectionism and unruly kids, and you have a toxic sludge.
    And beyond that - the "me first" mentality shows through by way of your post. Let me let you in on why people become teachers since it's beyond you: Some people care about more than just money. Some people actually want to help others rather than padding their wallets. Those people go on to be teachers. And your notion that children are "customers" (again, you seem to see things in only a business-transaction money-minded way that sort of sickens me) that in an ideal world could be walked away from... so good education is knowing when to walk away from kids? Sounds like you've got it all figured out. Unions are good and kids are evil.
sigh.

Re:What an Absolutely Clueless Response (5, Insightful)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031610)

Having dated a couple teachers, let me explain to you how it works.

Being married to a degreed High School biology teacher, let me explain how it works. This is with the caveat that it only applies to the two school districts she has worked in.

My wife is not tenured, which in our district and state means teaching for five years while passing all proficiency checks. That means she has to watch her butt and toe the line very carefully. Which means she is always the first on the list when the district is cutting budgets (which they have been doing every year since she started teaching in this district). Luckily for her, she is an amazing teacher (yeah, I'm biased, but her peers and supervisors agree) and she still has a job.

In our district, the teachers are responsible for making sure students are "engaged in learning" from "bell to bell". They must provide students every opportunity to pass their classes, which translates into students retaking tests as many times as they want, having as much time as they want to turn in assignments, and having the option of changing classes willy-nilly if they don't like the teacher/subject. Basically, the entire school district bends backwards for every single student no matter what little johnny or little betty do in class. There is no recourse for behavior problems and often the first step (calling the parent) results in the parent accusing the teacher of "not understanding" their child's needs or the teacher must obviously be doing something wrong. That's assuming that my wife can even get a hold of a parent. Most kids are either "independent", living with extended family, have only one parent and that parent works three jobs, or if by some miracle both parents are at home, they are drugged/stoned out of their minds and it's a wonder the kid comes to school at all.

Bottom line: Teachers are charged with educating a public that is disengaged with learning. Parents are hostile, administration is hog tied by budget and legislation and no one seems to understand one basic truth: It's not the teacher's job to force kids to learn. It's their job to teach those who want to learn. If johnny's mom got sent to jail for the third time and he has to live with his meth-addict uncle, then johnny doesn't care about extracting DNA from chicken livers or charting the energy of a falling mass. If anyone is to blame for the sad state of education in America, it the parents that need to take the blame. But that won't happen because the parents are the tax payers and the voters. How do you hold them accountable?

Teachers unable to discipline the classroom (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031670)

If you're a teacher (and I'm talking grade school or high school) you get shit on. You don't get paid shit and your 'customer' treats you like shit. What's worse is that you cannot refuse your customer and it's your duty to make sure no child is left behind.

This is really the reason why kids don't receive education. IMO part of the education is to teach discipline, but teachers now have no teeth nor incentive. This is the real problem.

The article is really a flamebait. It says, "Teachers who are unable or unwilling to teach the theory of evolution in biology might be one reason U.S. students are falling behind in science, according to new research." This is not at all where the issue is. I don't see how not teaching evolution will make students fall behind in science, when you have plenty of hard sciences like Chemistry and Physics that will have immediate and obvious application in technology innovation.

When it comes down to evolution, they need to separate origin of species from the package. When you invent new drug to save the world, or when you study genetic disease, you need to know natural selection and mutation. But neither origin of species nor speciation have any bearing whatsoever in science innovation. Don't bundle this controversial, useless knowledge to your science education, and blame the teachers for unwilling to teach it.

And again, it's the lack of respect and classroom discipline that makes the student fall behind. It's not the missing material.

Re:Not a science major? (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031378)

This is why everyone attending university gets ends up a shining star: professors, having accumulated years of knowledge and wisdom in their field, all make excellent teachers.

Re:Not a science major? (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031422)

At least here in the UK there's a shortage of maths and science graduates who teach, because they can get higher salaries in the private sector. There's no controversy here about evolution. It's part of the curriculum they have to teach kids for their exams as well as related areas such as genetics.

Re:Not a science major? (-1, Flamebait)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031426)

MOD: -1 Flamebait

Poor moderation by someone who shouldn't have that power.

How can one be a Biology teacher without having a major in at least one of the sciences? Sad. Schools ought to demote these persons to HomeEc or English, and hire some actual degreed science majors to do the teaching. Maybe they can't do that because of Union rules

Good :) Now, can they teach creationism?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031190)

Okay if I feel more comfortable teaching creationism than evolution, can I??
Most of the world's population believes in God anyway! There's less chance of controversy :)

Re:Good :) Now, can they teach creationism?? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031306)

Why stop at creationism? Might as well throw in a language class or two in Klingon while you're at it.

Meanwhile, in the Vatican... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031334)

Truth Cannot Contradict Truth [newadvent.org] (plus of course: remember how Catholicism in fact forms strong majority of Christianity)

How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplines coincide with those contained in the message of revelation? And if, at first sight, there are apparent contradictions, in what direction do we look for their solution? We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth
...
It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences
...
new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. ... It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.

Interesting times, indeed.

Re:Meanwhile, in the Vatican... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031550)

Hm, here's another, working link [ewtn.com] (either some random fluke with the first... or the fastest Slashdot effect I've seen)

Re:Good :) Now, can they teach creationism?? (4, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031350)

Believing in God doesn't mandate a belief in Creationism (though believing in Creationism requires the belief in God). Anyone whose faith is so fragile that it could be damaged by a rigorous class in evolutionary biology should go back to CCD or Sunday School or whatever their faith's equivalent is.

No, they can't teach Creationism since we've already had that trial and it has been determined in court that ``science is what scientists do''.

People who believe in the literal Word of God as the Bible remind me of the grand-daughter of a family friend --- he was a woodworker, old school, wanted me to be his apprentice so he could put me to work re-sawing wood rather than purchase a band saw. He made a cradle as a gift for the grand-daughter in question, for her to keep her dolls in --- she was very impressed when her mother told her, ``Your grandfather made this by hand.'' and immediately evinced a desire to see his and to see his shop and to watch him make something. The visit was arranged and upon arrival, the young lady was taken out to the shop and the large door rolled open, revealing rack upon rack of chisels, saws, hand planes, a simply unbelievable quantity of clamps and other hand tools --- the girl let out a shriek such as only a 5 year old girl can and yelled, ``Mommy! You lied! Grandpa doesn't make things by hand! He uses tools!''.

God is quite capable of using DNA and RNA and quantum mechanics and other theories which we have yet to learn about to make people and the world.

Moreover, those who believe that humanity is incapable of learning how God works are being blasphemous and not remembering the lesson of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:6) which indicates that humanity's learning capacity is without limit.

William

Re:Belief in God (0)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031524)

Classical Religion contains logical paradoxes that would make any logician proud.

If you "believe in God" then it is exceedingly difficult to try to disregard fragments of the Bible in the modern style of "Oh, that doesn't apply." (Never mind it's the same technique the Christians themselves used.)

God is a Division by Zero effect. For some reason this supreme being can't figure out how to say hello to us. Without the most basic confirmation of rationality, everything else becomes a Non-Euclidian demonstration in ... something.

What to do with all that grand theology? It does hold together, in its own world, just like when they first worked on Hyperbolic Geometry. " IF you had a God who did this and this and this, then all this neat stuff would apply."

How can a biology teacher not be a biology major? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031208)

Could someone explain?

What are the state requirements for someone to become a licensed biology teacher in the U.S.?

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031220)

If three people with scores below (1) are talking to one another in a forest.... I mean slashdot, does anybody hear them? ;-)

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031258)

You must be new here. Perhaps you just arrived off the boat from a strange faraway land or you're using one of them new fangled distance communications devices.

Teachers are primarily required to have a "teaching" degree. Actually being trained in what they are teaching is not really expected.

Welcome to America.

If you find a teacher with any real training in what they teach then you've just encountered a happy fluke.They do happen on occasion but they certainly aren't the norm and "knowing what you're doing" usually is not a requirement.

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031404)

Because they studied the "teaching" half of that job title.

I don't know how the American school system (well there's no such thing I guess, how the US school district then) works, but when I was in high school in another land the teachers were "science teachers". The guy who tought me biology at school clearly knew his physics (well his high school level ones anyway) but also taught chemistry and biology.

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031438)

Could someone explain?

What are the state requirements for someone to become a licensed biology teacher in the U.S.?

In lower grade levels teachers aren't necessarily hired for a particular class- the school will ask them to teach anything it needs. So a physical science teacher might be asked to teach biology for instance. They're not going to be completely incompetent (usually), but it is also true they won't have as in depth understanding of the subject.

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031676)

It works like this. You go to college and get a degree in biology. You face several choices:

1) You could go be a biology teacher. You could make 30-35K a year to start (not awful, but not great) or even less depending on how much education funding in your state has been slashed recently. In 20 or 30 years you *might* make twice that. You have to spend you days dealing with kids who don't really want to learn what you're teaching them, and parents who alternately abrogate all educational responsibility to you or tell you that your teaching is wrong or even immoral (sometimes the same parents do both!). You probably also have to spend a couple years going to night school getting certified in order to not get fired.

2) You could go work in a lab for 40-50K a year and eventually more. And not deal with any of this crap.

3) You could go to graduate or medical school and make much more money later on down the line as a professor, senior lab tech, doctor, etc.

Which do you choose? A surprising number don't go with option (1) for some reason. This leaves us with a shortage of teachers in biology which gets back filled by people with degrees in "general education".

Re:How can a biology teacher not be a biology majo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031696)

Because "Those who can't, teach. Those who can, are getting paid six figures to do"

But we can't give teachers a raise, that would be unamerican according to the teapartiers. We have to do more with less.

Slow news day?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031212)

So the reason US students fall behind might be because some teachers don't want to teach the theory of evolution?? Yeah, that must be slowing down the US production of Evolutionary Scientists. Let's see the ridiculous straw arguments now that this somehow explains why we are behind in Math and other Sciences.

Re:Slow news day?? (2)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031390)

So the reason US students fall behind might be because some teachers don't want to teach the theory of evolution?? Yeah, that must be slowing down the US production of Evolutionary Scientists. Let's see the ridiculous straw arguments now that this somehow explains why we are behind in Math and other Sciences.

Critical thinking is a part of being good in any science. By your "rationale", we should only teach chemistry to people who plan to go into a chemistry-related field.

If you teach children that wishful thinking and majority opinion somehow constitutes observable facts, you are going to wind up with a country of people who cannot think logically.

And, in other news, a study from Saudi Arabia shows that a lot of teachers — some 60 percent — are reluctant to teach the theory that women can be as intelligent as men in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material.

Re:Slow news day?? (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031516)

Let's see the ridiculous straw arguments now that this somehow explains why we are behind in Math and other Sciences.

So you are making pre-emptive attacks on any potential straw-man arguments? Clever. I think these should be called "straw ghosts" - that is, anticipated straw man arguments...

USA != World (0)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031228)

...shows that a lot of American teachers...

Fixed that for you.

Re:USA != World (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031264)

Slashdot = USA. You're welcome to visit and participate, but it's a US-centric site and stories are going to be US-centric.

Re:USA != World (2, Informative)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031360)

Well, looking at what is today so far...

1 Story about OpenSrouce (not really US-Centric)
A story about Egypt
A story about conficker (has a worldwide scope)
A Japanese company updating firmware
Russian Media comments on a russian terrorist attack
A site with an Australian link about messaging aliens
A streaming site comparing ISP speeds in US and Canada
A comment about the latest product from a Japanese company
Facebook used as evidence in US Courts

Not very US centric is it?

Re:USA != World (0)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031452)

The stories on Slashdot are more often than not submitted by its users. Granted, most users are citizens of your God worshipping union of states - but some of us do live in countries where biology teachers actually teach biology rather than scripture. IMO the moderators could spend a few extra calories making sure the articles are written from a more neutral perspective. Is that too much to ask?

Re:USA != World (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031374)

...shows that a lot of American teachers...

Fixed that for you.

Even though I am from the UK, it was pretty clear to me that "A study from Penn State...means that teachers..." was referring to American teachers.

Re:USA != World (2)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031672)

Yes, yes, you're very enlightened, we Americans recognize the innate superiority of the European educational system, have a lollipop. (I think I'm justified in assuming that's where you're from).

Now, would you cut out the snide smugness and come HELP US fight these religious fundamentalist zealots? I dunno, donate some Euros to Teach for America [teachforamerica.org] , encourage exchange programs between your country and Texas, anything.

If this really bothers you, quit making wisecracks and do something about it.

America has jumped the shark (5, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031234)

If even the teachers aren't educated enough to understand this - what hope is there for the rest.

Re:America has jumped the shark (1)

Gunkerty Jeb (1950964) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031348)

Ridiculous. The real shame here is that Evolution is somewhat intuitive and relatively easy to understand. Even easier to teach because of the ways it presents itself in everyday life.

Re:America has jumped the shark (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031356)

supply and demand

anyone with a strong science degree is making more money somewhere other than teaching. so either we have to pay science teachers more, or we need to accept that science isn't being taught by science majors. take your pick

it's easy to demand higher standards. it's hard to think it through and figure out how to make that happen

and i will bet you a GNP that every other country has the same problem

Re:America has jumped the shark (1)

angelbar (1823238) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031598)

No hope, just Idiocracy [imdb.com]

Seriously? (0)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031266)

For once I feel I am completely on topic when i say...

What. The. Fuck?

It truly seems that the only unlimited natural resource in this world is human stupidity. I'm not saying that evolution, as a scientific theory, shouldn't be challenged. But not teaching it at all is just incredibly idiotic. Those teachers should grow some balls...

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031328)

Those teachers should grow some balls...

Apparently they cannot, because they don't have a science major, hence they have no idea how to grow balls.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031368)

Why should the teachers "grow some balls"? Seriously, they are there to teach, not to get into some great philisophical debate which can have very real and permanent repercussions for them and their careers - the debate is for the public and the politicians to get into and sort out, not for the class room.

Like it or not, a lot of people have very real issues with evolution (I am not one of them), and those issues can extend to causing problems for those willing to teach their kids.

Refusing to teach it because of the political and ideological issues surrounding the debate is most certainly a valid stance for a teacher to take - a teacher shouldnt have to put up with hate mail or threats or harrassment any more than the rest of us. By forcing them to teach it, you are forcing them to open themselves up to attack.

If you want your kids to be taught about evolution so desperately, run your own little class on saturdays (or even sundays). Take the debate on yourself.

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031468)

If you want your kids to be taught about evolution so desperately, run your own little class on saturdays (or even sundays). Take the debate on yourself.

The problem with your line of "reasoning" (and I use the term most charitably), is that you seem to equate the theory of evolution with any number of mythological stories that purport to account for how creation came to be. The first one is not like the others, at all, despite what Glenn Beck and The Creation Museum have managed to make you believe.
So, if you want your kids to be taught about your mythological version of creation so desperately, run your own little class, and stop expecting science teaches to seriously consider your religious beliefs as anything even remotely approaching valid science.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031510)

Im not equating it with anything, Im saying that if there is a real credible reason for the teacher not to teach it (and loss of job or threats against their person most certainly is a credible reason) then they shouldn't be made to teach it.

Would you advocate that a teacher should be forced to tell the sex ed class that abortion is an equally valid method of birth control? Or should they be allowed to not cover something thats going to get them killed?

Re:Seriously? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031470)

If you want your kids to be taught about evolution so desperately, run your own little class on saturdays (or even sundays). Take the debate on yourself.

More to the point, if you care about your kids' education, you won't put them in public school, which is not about education first, but about teaching your children to put up with things no one should ever put up with.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031476)

teaching implies debating. that's the whole point of THE method!!!

Re:Seriously? (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031502)

I honestly believe that a it is the duty of a teacher to teach the subject as best understood by current science. (Which, at times, means potentially going against the administration.)

Then again, I'm an idealist. :)

Re:Seriously? (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031548)

If you want your kids to be taught about evolution so desperately, run your own little class on saturdays (or even sundays). Take the debate on yourself.

Or move to europe. I'ts kind of unthinkable that there could be schools not teaching evolution. Every time someone even slightly hinted at the possibility at teaching something else, the resulting public outcry removed him from his office.

Re:Seriously? (0)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031626)

Like it or not, a lot of people have very real issues with evolution (I am not one of them), and those issues can extend to causing problems for those willing to teach their kids.

... a teacher shouldnt have to put up with hate mail or threats or harrassment any more than the rest of us. By forcing them to teach it, you are forcing them to open themselves up to attack.

I agree, they shouldn't have to put up with that. Maybe you should stop doing it.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031284)

This is an excerpt from a news piece in the 1920's:

"A study (abstract) from Penn State shows that a lot of teachers — some 60 percent — are reluctant to teach a non-heliocentric model of the universe in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material (as not every science teacher was an astronomy major). It shows the importance, the authors say, of training teachers well before they step into the class."

Where would we be right now if we allowed "universe deniers" to shape our view of the galaxy (and subsequently our childrens' view of the universe)? Teach science, damn it. It isn't about "comfort", it's about fucking observation and knowledge! It fucking works, bitches!

Calling for re-education camps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031294)

The article is making is sound like the teachers can and know how to teach the material, but have to be conditioned to not fear it. It is sounding like they want to desensitize them to their beliefs because they do know it, they just don't believe their way enough. How else do you fix it? You social engineer it. Welcome to the re-education camps.

Science is being bullied (5, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031298)

It's ridiculous, but science is being bullied in our Western democracies...

There are fights about the greenhouse gas, about evolution, and several other topics... and if teachers say something about that, they are said to choose a side and teachers should be politically neutral.

That, of course, is ridiculous. If teachers can no longer teach science, because some theories (which have a lot of evidence) might undermine the political course set by our Great Leaders or because they might upset certain religious people (science always does that), then we might as well close our schools.

Re:Science is being bullied (4, Insightful)

Gunkerty Jeb (1950964) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031412)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. We are doing an excellent job preparing our children to be the future slaves of China. I just hope I'm dead before I see their economy surpass ours.

Re:Science is being bullied (5, Insightful)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031480)

Speak for your own democracy.

oh really?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031302)

"training teachers well before they step into the class"

I thought you could just pick the first redneck passing by and drop him in a class.

God bless America (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031308)

Now the evolutionary theory, which follows a degree of scientific rigor (compare it to other theories to explain the same phenomenon) is controversial. What's next? Advanced physics teaching that the sun goes around the earth? Carbon dating deemed heresy because we all know the earth was created in 7 days?

God Bless America.

Re:God bless America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031432)

Perhaps controversial is not the right word, since it is widely accepted. Mess is a more suitable word. Well, the modern evolutionary theory is an accepted mess.

Re:God bless America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031478)

Carbon dating is already a lost cause if you're fighting against the religious. Those who are against it just flat-out say it's false, while offering no evidence as to why it is. When asked to look at the overwhelming evidence in its favor, they just take one look and say the results have been falsified.

Re:God bless America (2)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031488)

God Bless America.

... and no place else! :)
This always reminds me of "Gott mit uns [wikimedia.org] ".

Re:God bless America (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031688)

What's next? Advanced physics teaching that the sun goes around the earth?

Of course. To promote the heliocentric model is racist, because it values the European contributions of Copernicus over the African contributions of Claudius Ptolemy.

-=Steve=-

WTF? (2)

snookiex (1814614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031326)

(...) reluctant to teach evolutionary theory in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material (as not every biology teacher was a science major)

Is THAT hard to go to the library, take a book and read it to prepare a class? Geez, they don't even have to do it in a yearly basis.

oh noes (-1, Flamebait)

samjam (256347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031330)

I'm trying hard to read this as more than a complaint that "Oh noes, my pet-theory/favourite-subject isn't being taught as much as I think it should"

The general form of the story is well known.

In this case it is a scientific theory so scientists see it as bad for future science.

It could just as easily be engineers claiming about the poor quality of mathematics teaching, or CS professors complaining about the lack of independent thinking.

However, my view is that it is down to the parents to do the teaching, and to delegate to schools as they see fit, and also to make up the difference.

No-group has a right to have their pet subjects taught to children. Except the gubbernment, of course.
But- they are allowed to whine and make a noise about it.

Re:oh noes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031408)

You're a cretin. Evolution is the central, uniting theory of biology. And you may think that "the general form of the story is well known", but I can pretty much guarantee that you don't know the first thing about it.

Re:oh noes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031460)

If Biology is a "pet subject" then so is Physics.

Re:oh noes (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031462)

Sarah Palin is that you?

"However, my view is that it is down to the parents to do the teaching, and to delegate to schools as they see fit, and also to make up the difference."

It's called the school board. That's where parents raise issues in regards to what little Johnny is taught in school. And no it's not the responsibility of parents to do the teaching. If it was then kids would be home schooled and I would not have to pay school taxes!

"No-group has a right to have their pet subjects taught to children"

Evolution is not a pet subject.

Moron.

Re:oh noes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031538)

I agree completely.
Our kids should not have to learn mathematics, history, and geography or other subjects in school.
All they should teach them is to read and write English.
The parents can then teach their kids whatever they want in their spare time.

Pet subject? (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031624)

Is knowledge a 'pet subject' to you, to be ignored at the discression of the parents? Perhaps it should be up to the parents whether or not their kids are taught to read, another obvious 'pet subject'. But most of all kids should have a permission slip from their parents if a teacher is expecting to teach kids how to 'think', the most subversive 'pet subject' of all time.

Whatever (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031366)

I hate how pussified all of our teachers have become! Afraid to teach evolution???? WTF??? It's a theory as solid as a fossil and these fucking people cannot man-up about it and tell the religious freaks that would have us living in the dark ages to fuck off and die? No wonder everything is about to go to hell in a hand-basket!

-Oz

Re:Whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031702)

I hate how pussified all of our teachers have become! Afraid to NOT teach evolution???? WTF??? It's a theory as solid as a hologram -- looks good, no substance -- and these people cannot man-up about it and tell the Darwinist freaks that would have us living in the dark ages to fuck off and die? No wonder everything is about to go to hell in a hand-basket!

Rant on MF .. it's YHO vs. MHO.

Teachers want to keep their jobs! (5, Interesting)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031382)

Teachers don't want to get fired! I live near Austin, TX and the Austin Independent School District just announced plans to lay off 450 teachers next year due to budget cuts. Administrators will be looking to anything to give them an excuse to fire a teacher- for cause: no unemployment... Bonus! The problem lies in the extremely vocal minority of parents that protest (generally anything that falls outside of their narrowly defined set of "values"). They get the administrator's attention, and the teacher gets fired. When there is a need to re-hire, there are plenty of underqualified Teach-for-America supplied teachers (who, as new teachers, get paid much less). While the TFA teachers may be qualified on the subject matter, they don't have much basis on *Teaching* the subject matter- an entirely different skill. Don't worry, most of the TFA teachers get a hard dose of reality (low pay, no respect, long hours) and quit teaching in a few years.

[my wife is a teacher (15 years teaching), she's just glad she's got an engineer husband to support her teaching habit... I'm just an enabler, I guess]

Ahoy me hearties! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031410)

Aye, word of His Great Noodlyness the Flying Spaghetti Monster gets the attention he deserves!

Summary wrong, not so bleak (3, Informative)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031424)

Unsurprisingly, the summary is wrong. 28% actively teach evolution as if it is a correct theory, 60% teach both evolution and ID and do not make claims as to their validity. The last 12% actually only teach creationism. All of this survey was done with biology highschool teachers.

Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (5, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031464)

You call that "not so bleak"? When ~72% of teachers actually give sky-daddy-dunnit some credence in a science classroom? Holy shit.

Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031640)

Depends on how they do it. I remember being taught the history of the atomic model, including some bits about 4 elements, aethers, and how religion influenced some of the historic models. So long as evolution is taught as the leading theory based on the massive amounts of evidence we have, who cares if they pay a few seconds of lip service to what some other people believe?

Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (4, Informative)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031532)

How is 72% still teaching superstition any better? I went to a catholic school and they taught evolution as fact, of course there was a religion class but biology was science.

Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (3, Insightful)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031604)

So, according to your numbers, 72% of US biology highschool teachers teach ID as potentially valid "theory". If that's "not so bleak", I don't know what is.

Worrying (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031448)

This really worries me. Are teachers afraid of religious fanatics who want them to teach the bible in school? Or are teachers too dumb or not enough educated or well trained to be able to explain why evolution makes sense? Next we know the big bang is not taught any more, and Galileo isn't, and we go back to the stone age.

Smart people should have more children. Otherwise, evolution is in favor of the anti-evolution people.

stupid explanation for a major problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031458)

O.K. not going into the whole evolution / creationism debate
But the linked article starts with:

"Teachers who are unable or unwilling to teach the theory of evolution in biology might be one reason U.S. students are falling behind in science, according to new research."

And that's just plain stupid (as stupid as not to teach evolution in school). You can be a good biologist and not really care about the whole macro-evolution debate. Remember, 3 experiments, finding new fancy stuff about how life works....
Most science does not depend on evolution being right or wrong, important is how it all works!
So the intention of the article is mostly politics... not about the real problem here, why kids don't go into science!!

Read the comments on the site (1)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031490)

And weep. The idiocracy in action.

Credentials. (5, Interesting)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031508)

It's almost like shuttling weak students who are afraid of math and science into teacher training programs was a BAD idea.

(Disclaimer: I'm employed by a college with a tremendous population of education majors.)

I used to care about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031558)

From my perspective (Europe), the US is digging its own grave with hundreds of shovels at the same time...
this is just one of those shovels.

But still, it's pretty scary :s

Flip it around (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031570)

On the other hand, I wonder what the numbers would look like if the survey asked teachers if they were reluctant to teach creationism in class. Probably much higher, in public schools at least. (Given that trying to teach religion in public school is *illegal* for good reason). I'm not sure there is anything to worry about here. Unless you happen to be a creationist.

Re:Flip it around (1)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031678)

On the other hand, I wonder what the numbers would look like if the survey asked teachers if they were reluctant to teach creationism in class. Probably much higher, in public schools at least. (Given that trying to teach religion in public school is *illegal* for good reason). I'm not sure there is anything to worry about here. Unless you happen to be a creationist.

Yeah, it's not really fair that The Theory of Evolution gets it's own building. A building where people who are educated on the subject matter can teach it to a large number of pupils all at once; some of whom are there by choice, some of whom are there because their parents told them they had to be there. This clear example of inequality needs to stop now! Where is creationisms building, I ask you that!

Only in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031578)

Christians around the world give thumbs up for evolution. What went wrong in the U.S.? Come on now, you're an embarrassment to the world.

I have a plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031582)

We've spent over $2 trillion dollars so far in three wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, and "Drugs." That's $1.1 trillion in the years we've been in Afghanistan and Iraq, and $1 trillion for the 40 years we've been fighting the War on Drugs (a.k.a. becoming a police state---see http://www.cato.org/raidmap/ ).

Let's cut our losses on that shit, and reallocate the billions that would have been spent on killing people and making everyone hate us. We could even legalize and tax some things to provide even more revenue, while we're at it.

So we'll take all that money, and we'll hire teachers. LOTS of teachers. Bring the student-teacher ratio in every school in the US down below 20:1. Ten to one would be great. How do you get all those teachers?

Hire people who are trained in the fields you want them to teach--not people who are trained to teach. Science teacher? Hire someone with a BS in Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, etc. Not a BS in Education.

Offer competitive salaries and benefits, so they won't have to be insane to take teaching jobs instead of going on to grad school. The really brilliant/ambitious ones will still go to grad school, but grad school numbers will be thinned out. It will mean something again. And you won't have a bunch of people sitting around with 4-year degrees working at frozen banana stands and stealing cars to pay off student loans.

Most importantly, you won't have honor students being taught history by their gym coaches. You'll have History majors teaching History, and Athletics majors coaching. Hey, everybody wins!

Church Schools teach it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031588)

And I learned evolution in a Lutheran school! My how the last 40 years have changed.

Fair ground (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031590)

Perhaps the real reason is because they've lost too many discussions from *students* who are well-versed enough in both the theory of evolution and its alternatives to be able to teach it adequately. I am a young Earth creationist, and not because "the Bible told me so." When any of you can accurately understand the scientific arguments for creationism, I will be happy to listen to arguments against them. My issue with the political / bureaucratic side of evolutionary theory is that even its most ardent proponents are too ill-equipped to engage in rational debate that they have to effectively bully their way into the education system. I have the same issue with religious right-wing politicians who think "faith is enough." God gave us brains so we can use them to understand the world in which we live, not check them at the door when someone says something we don't agree with.

Re:Fair ground (1)

trinaryai (949870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031644)

I am the poster of the above comment. I had no intention of posting anonymously, just forgot to log in before doing so.

Anectodal evidence from swedish HS (2)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031596)

If I got it right, both chemistry/biochemistry teachers had chemistry degrees, the maths/physicists had degrees, but I'm not sure who taught biology since I was in the Sci/Tech program intead of Sci/Nat. The thing is though, the "controversy" never came up at all. While we got some backstory on "scientific thought" and the evolvment of the scientific model, the focus seemed to be on teaching us basic physics neatly intertwined with the math courses. That the scientists who worked out the models was using fallible tools and understanding, and that the models themselves where so "high up" from our understanding that we would have to study a lot more to concretely understand them where sort of implicit.

The religion courses where compulsory, but that guy (who at least seemed like he had a degree of some sort, he "seemed academic") mostly seemed keen on trying to teach us to think about religion in the abstract besides teaching us about the fundamentals of the major religions like Chatolicism and Islam etc., (Eg., "what is sin, as a concept, from a christian perspective?") but I'm quite certain creationism and related concepts where only mentioned in passing unless I missed that class.

In "Junior High" I don't think the (all female) bio teachers had a degree either, since they taught mostly from the books (it seemed). We had "sex ed" in bio class, but it was more like "genital anatomy". They took in some sort of weird female consult (who I now am perfectly sure had Aspergers) for actual sex ed, which included condom usage, oral/anal sex (briefly) and "the importance of cuddling". The most fun part of that year was our Social Sciences teacher (great guy, had been in the jaeger corps when he was younger, apparently had enough "teaching" university education to give him a Masters equivalent) putting on the Monthy Python "Every Sperm is Sacred" skit.

Exaggerating the problem (1, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031602)

I'm all for teaching evolution well in the classroom, but this article greatly exaggerates the scope of this problem.

From TFA:

Teachers who are unable or unwilling to teach the theory of evolution in biology might be one reason U.S. students are falling behind in science, according to new research. [. . .] The findings come at a time when the national Center for Education Statistics, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, released findings that said only 21 percent of students in grade 12 scored at or above "proficient" in 2009, with 60 percent reaching the level of "basic."

First off, bad reporting -- what are those statistics referring to? When we go to the NCES website, we find this is referring to science performance in general. This trend in biology teachers is distressing, but I'm not sure bad teaching of evolutionary teaching is resulting in 88% of students not achieving high marks in, say, physical sciences, earth sciences, etc. NCES itself notes immediately after the statistic in its own report [ed.gov] :

Twelfth-graders who reported taking biology, chemistry, and physics scored higher than students taking less advanced science coursework.

In other words, students who take more science and harder science do better on science tests. Duh. I'm not sure the teaching of evolutionary theory is even on the map compared to problems like students not taking science, not being interested in science, and probably poor science teaching in general, particularly in the low-level science electives for students not taking real bio, chem, or physics. I taught high school math and science for a few years, and I can definitely say that the teachers assigned to teach these dumbed-down science courses were some of the worst in the school -- often coaches or people with science degrees or related degrees who weren't able to find a job doing anything else because their skills were so poor.

Is the teaching of evolution a problem? Sure. But I'm not willing to believe it is even in the top 20 causes for these students performing poorly on tests of scientific knowledge in general.

And the Earth revolves around the Sun! (1)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031618)

What the Catholic church did for geocentrism in the Renaissance, the mega churches and funny-mental Christians are now doing for intelligent design. With all of our problems at hand I wish I lived in a nation that was mature enough to focus on important tasks and not obsess on homosexuality and evolution. Sadly, some children will visit the http://creationmuseum.org/ [creationmuseum.org] "Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden's Rivers" (I swear, I'm not making that up) and have their beliefs reinforced as fact. Seriously! Creation, like Santa, should not be taken seriously as an explanation for how things have come to be.

Teachers teach (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35031684)

It seems the survey must be mistaken. Those that would not teach are not teachers.

You know.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 3 years ago | (#35031700)

..when I can't do the job I was hired to do, I'm either trained in how to do it or replaced by someone that can do it. If I were a biology teacher and couldn't teach biology, I should be trained in biology or replaced by someone that can teach biology. So you're telling me that these people don't even have a HIGH SCHOOL level understanding of evolution? How can you even call yourself a teacher if you refuse to teach known science because someone might not like it? For people that don't believe in evolution, fuck them. It's science. They still make those people that don't believe in medicine about medicine and medical topics. They still teach Jews about the Nazis even though they're offended. They still teach blacks in America about the slavery era. What's the problem?
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