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Education Science

Texas Board of Education Supports Evolution 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the reasons-to-say-the-word-texas-in-a-dubious-voice dept.
somanyrobots writes with this excerpt from the Dallas News: "In a major defeat for social conservatives, a sharply divided State Board of Education voted Thursday to abandon a longtime state requirement that high school science teachers cover what some critics consider to be 'weaknesses' in the theory of evolution. Under the science curriculum standards recommended by a panel of science educators and tentatively adopted by the board, biology teachers and biology textbooks would no longer have to cover the 'strengths and weaknesses' of Charles Darwin's theory that man evolved from lower forms of life. Texas is particularly influential to textbook publishers because of the size of its market, so this could have a ripple effect on textbooks used in other states as well."
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Texas Board of Education Supports Evolution

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  • Fracking Halleluja (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Killjoy_NL (719667) <slashdotNO@SPAMremco.palli.nl> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:20AM (#26587015)

    Things are turning around for the better :)
    Finally Intelligent Design is getting the boot it deserves.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jez9999 (618189)

      You heathens are allll gonna regret this. How little do you realise the gravity of the mistake you're making. *shakes head*

      - God

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EdIII (1114411) *

      Fracking Halleluja

      Actually my first thought when reading the summary was "Thank God". Then the irony of that thought hit me :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Killjoy_NL (719667)

        Heh I believe that there is something beyond our understanding and that a lot of people name it God or Allah or whatever.
        If he/she/it/they/whatever created us, I find it more believable that he/she/it/they/whatever started with the Big Bang.
        So ironic your thought may be, it's possible it's not far off ;)

    • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:01AM (#26588691)
      I understand that you believe in evolution and you don't believe in God, and maybe you think the two are mutually exclusive. But would you agree that, if there are weaknesses in the theory, discussion of the weaknesses should be swept under the rug because it's your favorite theory?
      • Weaknesses? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:44PM (#26592513)

        As a biologist, I'm not aware of any "weaknesses," in terms of inconsistency with the evidence. I've read those promoted by ID/creationists, and all are false or downright fraudulent.

        But there are certainly areas of evolutionary theory where unresolved questions remain. These are appropriate for discussion in classes at the appropriate educational level--graduate courses, or high-level undergraduate college courses--where students have the educational background to understand the issues.

        • Re:Weaknesses? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ifni (545998) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:31PM (#26594501) Homepage

          This is exactly correct, IMO.

          Evolution is just a theory, and the article makes it sound like there is an attempt to hide all of its perceived flaws or shortcomings. The reality is, any discussion of science should begin with an understanding of the Scientific Method, what a Theory IS, scientifically speaking, and then discussion of Evolution should include the acknowledgment that it is incompletely supported by evidence, but there is no strongly compelling evidence against it, and for well over 150 years newly found evidence has continued to provide additional support for the theory, and even influence various corrections, but has not contradicted the core principles of the theory. And that, in fact, the theory has provided usable information that has pointed scientists towards where and how to find many pieces of the supporting evidence.

          I remember before the whole Creationist agenda gained its current momentum the big buzz phrase for evolution was "the missing link". There were many "missing links", all of varying sizes, of course, but THE missing link was presumably the one that linked apes to humans, or more accurately some point in that progression. Some people used it as an argument against evolution, but the argument mostly went along the lines of "evolution is fine, but humans are special" rather than a dispelling of the whole theory. However, most people seemed to see the "missing link" for what it was - a gap in the evidence, and fully expected scientists to find it eventually. It was the Holy Grail of evolutionists - everyone knew it existed, it was just a race to be the one to discover it. Somewhere between then and now, gaps in the fossil record became proof against evolution in the eyes of major portions of America.

          But at the grade school level discussion of the minutia of the existing gaps is typically more advanced than any other material they are learning at that time. It'd be like getting into the math involved in quantum mechanics in high school physics classes. Even E=mc^2, which typically is mentioned at some point in high school physics is left in its abridged form and the Taylor series (required for increased accuracy as objects approach c - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass%E2%80%93energy_equivalence#Low-speed_expansion [wikipedia.org]) is omitted.

          The policy is designed more to prevent both muddying the waters and confusing students with false or unnecessary information than to "cover up" any gaps in the evidence for the theory of evolution, especially by promoting or providing undue emphasis on competing theories that are not widely accepted by the informed scientific community.

          ID is not a theory. It does not stand on its own without evolution as its whole purpose is as an attack on evolution. If all the parts of ID that referenced evolution were removed from ID, all that would be left would boil down to "God created the universe and all the life we see within it more or less as it currently exists." That's simply Creationism. It may be non-denominational, but it is still nothing but religion and thus does not deserve to be mentioned even in passing in a science class.

  • by Szentigrade (790685) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:22AM (#26587025)
    I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses? If science teaches us anything it is that we should always continue to question and refine our studies, not idly stand by and accept them as fact. No one is saying we have to introduce creationism or try to make evolution appear only as a theory (which some might argue it still is), but there is no reason we need to teach our students to blindly accept it as fact, without doubt or admission of weakness. This is not the spirit of science and frankly not in the best interest for those who probably already don't care that much about it. Whats gives?
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:28AM (#26587049)
      I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses?

      I would guess that they singled out evolution for this. They didn't demand that they teach the strengths and weaknesses of Newton's theory of gravity, or Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, or Dalton's atomic theory of matter. Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

      • Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

        The TFA said the scientific community widely accepts Darwin's theory, while biblical proponents reject the theory. Thus, the state board forced teachers to teach pros and cons in the 1980s.

        I guess the debate was so serious that the state board had to compromise to satisfy the creationism parties (who can be rich and powerful).

        I guess evolution is a really thorny part of religion (specifically, blind belief). If students understand that humans are developed from fish and apes, then creationists have a hard

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by evilbessie (873633)
          We didn't develop from fish and apes, we developed from something which also developed into fish and apes, who are at the same point in evolution as us. It's this sort of thinking which doesn't help.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:53AM (#26588087)

            Actually, even though you think you're trying to help, you're wrong.

            Homo sapiens are apes. We are one of 5 great ape species (in addition to many lesser ape species). Homo sapiens descended from earlier ape species. So yes, we did evolve from apes (just not the apes people tend to think of, which is usually gorillas).

            All land mammals also evolved from fish. Not the modern fish most people think of, but fish all the same.

            While we're at it, birds descended from dinosaurs too.

          • by squiggleslash (241428) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:02AM (#26588179) Homepage Journal

            We are apes! [wikipedia.org]. And it is very likely that a fish, likely to be a Sarcopterygii of some type, was one of our ancestors. The Sarcopterygii includes the lungfishes, which as the name implies, were fish that evolved lungs and whose fins developed into stubby "limbs", allowing them to "walk" on land.

            If the GP had mentioned a specific ape (like a monkey) or a specific fish (like a trout), then yeah, the objection would have been correct for that, but apes are a superfamily, not a specific species, and fish are similarly not a species but an enormous group of centered around, but not including, the tetrapods. Apes did evolve from something that evolved from fish, and our ancestor was another ape, just like us.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bigbird (40392)

        Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

        Perhaps because the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on Western thought, far more so than any other scientific theory I can think of.

        And because although scientists can explain how they think evolution might have occurred, the scientific method can't be used to actually directly test the "origin of the species" - it isn't repeatable.

        And perhaps also because the theo

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tkrotchko (124118) *

          "Perhaps because the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on Western thought"

          Whereas Eastern thought says "yeah, we knew that all along"???

        • by squiggleslash (241428) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:17AM (#26588331) Homepage Journal

          Perhaps because the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on Western thought, far more so than any other scientific theory I can think of.

          In what way? And how does this relate to the question?

          And because although scientists can explain how they think evolution might have occurred, the scientific method can't be used to actually directly test the "origin of the species" - it isn't repeatable.

          The scientific method can be used in a variety of ways, from demonstrating the process, to making predictions about evidence that would have to exist, or could not exist, and then looking for that evidence. There are very few scientific theories that require you repeat the entire process that the theory explains in order to know it works. Relativity, for example, can be proven to work in principle, but when you use it to determine why Mercury rotates around the Sun faster than Newtonian physics suggests you're generally not required to build a huge frickin' ball of fire in the middle of space and a giant, Mercury-sized ball of rock to go with it.

          That one's interesting too, actually. The theory of relativity is generally not considered that controversial, but actually it doesn't fully explain why Mercury's orbit around the Sun isn't Newtonian, 'cos it's not entirely consistent with Relativistic physics either. Evolution seems, by and large, to be less controversial within the scientific community than most modern laws of physics, and yet it's the one that's picked on by school boards. Why is that?

          And perhaps also because the theory of evolution depends on the pre-existence of DNA, and there is currently no satisfactory explanation for how it originated.

          Satisfactory to whom? There are a variety of theories as to how RNA and DNA came into being. Nor does the theory of evolution depend upon the "pre-existence" of DNA, on a wider level, DNA is just another successful development, with other proto-"genetic storage systems" failing to survive in the same chemical soup. Had a different genetic storage system developed in the soup, that was developed earlier and was as effective as DNA, some other living being would be having this discussion right now, but that living being would also have evolved and would recognize the theory of evolution as a theory.

          And finally, because many proponents of evolution are every bit as religious about their beliefs as the ID'ers.

          Even if this were true, it's also entirely irrelevant. ID is, regardless of its supporters, not a scientific theory. Evolution, regardless of its supporters, most certainly is.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:10AM (#26588257) Journal
        "Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?"

        I agree with the GP's point: Pointing out weakness' in a theory is how it becomes stronger.
        I agree with your caveate: All disagreements must be intellectually honest.

        Evolution is nowhere near as contraversial as when I went to school in the 60's, a time when tectonic plates and black holes were also contraversial, science has convincingly won all three very public arguments over the last 40yrs (150yrs in the case of evolution). Of more immediate concern is the current FUD from global warming psudeo-skeptics (coinidentally they are also particularly strong in Texas). Not that I have anything against Texas but the reason these people make (subtle) anti-science and greenie bashing a political platform could be due to either power/money/ignorance, regardless of which one it is, ignorance amoungst their followers is the sole reason they get away with it.

        IMHO Dawkins and Sagan are correct in that science is taught as a "dictonary of facts", the philosophy of science [wikipedia.org] is largely ignored by the education system and consequently misunderstood/ignored by the public at large. Evidence for this is not hard to find, just count the number of "climate fools" here on slashdot, they espouse all manner of nerdy sounding but thougoughly debunked scientific red-herrings [skepticalscience.com], not because they are stupid but becuase their lack of understanding as to what "scientific skepticisim" means makes them easy prey for intellectually dishonest politicians [realclimate.org] and their sponsors.

        Due to the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence [ipcc-data.org] I can no longer belive a politician can (legitimately) keep using ignorance as an excuse to poo-poo global warming and/or evolution [youtube.com]. Therefore the root cause of the cherry-picked "science" found in the opinion columns of the mass-media and subsequently regurgitated by a million ignorant bloggers - must be money and/or power.

        Premptive Al Gore reply: I'm not from the US, I haven't seen his film. I had already read the IPCC reports and didn't see the point, from the reviews of Gore's film by IPCC scientists, (and later their answers to critics), I would have to conclude his slide show was an accurate representation of the reports. OTOH: Just because the doco is accurate does not mean Gore's motivations for presenting it are intellectually honest.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Not that I have anything against Texas but the reason these people make (subtle) anti-science and greenie bashing a political platform could be due to either power/money/ignorance, regardless of which one it is, ignorance amoungst their followers is the sole reason they get away with it.

          The situation is the same as practically everything else in this world - the people in charge are either trying to not look like complete fucking idiots, or are trying to milk you out of all your money. If you have taken up an indefensible position, you can either admit that you're a tard, or you can defend it unto death. A lot of people will assume that means you're right, or at least have a point, even when this is the farthest thing from the truth.

          IMHO Dawkins and Sagan are correct in that science is taught as a "dictonary of facts", the philosophy of science is largely ignored by the education system and consequently misunderstood/ignored by the public at large.

          That isn't really a problem, though. The idea that we all

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TapeCutter (624760)
            "The idea that we all should receive and/or need the same level of education is pretty silly"

            I wouldn't advocate that either, except for the basics of reading/writing. What I am suggesting is that skeptical think should be part of the basics as it ENABLES you to learn. Skeptical thinking is a skill, it doesn't tell you what to learn, it tells you how to learn and can be taught in a short amount of time (less than what it takes to memorise multiplication tables). The difficult part is getting people to be
    • by Uber Banker (655221) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:33AM (#26587069)

      I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses? If science teaches us anything it is that we should always continue to question and refine our studies, not idly stand by and accept them as fact.

      I absolutely agree. The Scientific Method should certainly be taught as part of any High School science curriculum, and perhaps before.

      But it shouldn't be focussed on one branch of science and ignored from all others. That the earth orbits the moon is as subject to the Scientific Method as evolution, as Black Holes exist and that a chemical reaction does not happen because the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes it so.

      Scientific Method should be taught as it relates to all of science. Not singled out on any single branch by Special Interest Groups, whatever that branch of science, or special interest, that may be.

      • Oh sure, I can already see High Schools teaching their kids to challenge and test what is taught to them to see the flaws in the logic and improve the theory. The school should prepare our kids for their life. And if life told me anything, then that the guy that "does what he's told and shuts up" gets promoted...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MooUK (905450)

          In my experience, the guy who your manager worked with a few years ago, despite being less qualified for the job and keeps screwing up his current job, gets promoted.

          Nevertheless, I prefer my nose to not be brown.

          • Well, my argument to avoid sucking up too much is that I will be in the bathroom in the morning, a razor in my hand and I'll put it to my throat. I do not want to hate the person I see enough to do something I could probably regret...

    • by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:39AM (#26587101)

      You're absolutely right in principle, but in practice, the specific "weaknesses" that are used by opponents to evolution have been shown to be absolutely wrong. Usually 150 years ago.

      If there are significant weaknesses in Darwin's theory, they should be presented through peer-reviewed mainstream science, not shoved down students' throats by official decree.

      (And before one argues that scientists aren't willing to hear objections to their beloved theory, it's worth pointing out that there *are* some well-accepted biological oddities that add wrinkles to Darwin's theory, such as horizontal gene transfer. But nobody outside the sciences talks about them, because they don't require a supreme being.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jabithew (1340853)

        Evolutionary biology has changed quite a bit since Darwin. Many specific things Darwin said are wrong. But his fundamental idea is still right.

    • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:49AM (#26587161)

      The subject of certainty in science is best covered by teaching about the scientific method, not by pausing during lectures about one particular bit of science that some people don't like to remind students that science can't say for certain that it's true.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think rather than try to just present things as fact to children they should teach them to question everything and how to think and use logic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rpillala (583965)

      No one is saying we have to introduce creationism or try to make evolution appear only as a theory (which some might argue it still is), but there is no reason we need to teach our students to blindly accept it as fact, without doubt or admission of weakness.

      Some people are saying exactly that. However, I accept that you are not. Your use of the phrase "only a theory" suggests that you do not understand what constitutes a scientific theory. A theory explains the available facts. Fact by themselves mean very litte. Consider "the car is red," which is a fact, versus "red cars get pulled over more frequently than other colors because etc" which is a theory. Clearly the theory means more and is more useful than the fact alone.

      Beyond this, the word "evolution"

  • other "theories" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by david in brasil (1103683) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:26AM (#26587043)
    Evolution is not the only theory taught in school. Gravity is another theory. I suppose that Texas schools should teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of the Theory of Gravity, too.
    • Here's a hammer, I dangle it above your toe, let's test the theory.

      The problem with gravity is that it's easy to test it. Don't believe it, try it. You usually don't have that luxury with Evolution, unless you got access to a time machine. I'd fear that if you teach theories this way and point out that every other theory taught can be proven, while it's kinda hard to "prove" Evolution to a school student, the message could be the wrong one.

      • Re:other "theories" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:49AM (#26587483)

        Yeah, gravity is easy to test.

        Theory of evolution is also fairly easy to test, and that was done before. Scientists from around the world used populations of fast-reproduction species (mostly bugs), and placed them in specific conditions. After some time - features useful for living in these new conditions were developed. This looks like definitive proof done in the lab for me.

        On the other hand you just can look into fossilized bones of ancient species, or remains of our own predecessors - go, figure out yourself.

        I understand that a "weakness" of theory of evolution would be a claim that changes in species appear randomly vs. deterministic. But knowing how strong anti-evolution-redneck-lobby is in USA, I would expect something like "it's not the way it's described in the Bible".

        I live in Europe, in *very* conservative an catholic country (90% of populations are catholics), but anyone who would say evolution is bullshit would looked at like he was crazy.

      • by jabithew (1340853)

        Bacteria can evolve in the timescales needed for class work.

        You could even use an outbreak of the common cold as an experiment; a new strain of the virus which has evolved to dodge the class's immunity.

        The other thing is what do you mean by theory of gravity? Do you mean "things fall', Gallilean gravity, Newtonian, Einsteinian? You can't distinguish between those last two in class, but they each make fundamentally different claims about what gravity is.

      • by gorgonite (79857)
        Testing gravity on small distances is extremely hard because gravity is so weak. See http://www.stanford.edu/group/kgb/Research/gravity2.html [stanford.edu] for example. Cosmology is ongoing research, as you can see from the discussion around dark energy. In particular, measuring cosmological distances is a difficult problem. So one cannot say that gravitation were fully understood on cosmological scales.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EdIII (1114411) *

        The problem with gravity is that it's easy to test it. Don't believe it, try it. You usually don't have that luxury with Evolution

        Actually you do have that luxury with Evolution to an extent. Evolution is always twisted to whoever is talking about it at the moment. I am not accusing you personally of doing that, but you certainly are demonstrating a misconception about evolution. That's the real problem with constructive dialogue regarding this whole stupid issue.

        1) The "religious nutballs and born again

    • by savuporo (658486)

      Indeed
      http://www.notjustatheory.com/ [notjustatheory.com]

      Emphasis on the word "just"

      "Evolution is not just a theory, it's triumphantly a theory!"

    • by Llywelyn (531070)
      One thing with the gravity comparison though, is that gravity *is* tested in school. Frequently and empirically. Things of different masses are dropped, times are measured, and constants are calculated. Critical thinking and scientific approach can (sadly not necessary *are*, but they could) be taught using gravity as a backdrop. This is a somewhat different matter from evolution.

      Not saying that I do not support said theory, but let's be up front about the difference here.
    • I suppose that Texas schools should teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of the Theory of Gravity, too.

      I guess it could go something like "gravity is stronger for fat computer nerds because they weigh more than fit healthy people"

  • by Manip (656104) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:41AM (#26587115)

    I entirely appreciate that this is a debate about I.D. and about religion in the classroom.

    But that aside it is a great shame that we teach all science as hard "fact" with little experimentation or room for asking "Why?"

    If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

    God forbid we'd ever want kids actually thinking for themselves or questioning anything, if that happened they might, you know... Push the field forward...

    But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

    I hope we like the world we made for ourselves...

    • by mangu (126918) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#26587283)

      If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

      I see you have never had a science lab class. It's a pity, you don't know what you've missed.

      I remember even the meanest bullies in the class loved the part where we measured the speed of a BB, or the frog dissection.

      • by Llywelyn (531070)
        You should probably read Gatto's work, it's a good starting point on what is horribly wrong with our schools in this regard.

        That said: I remember science labs quite vividly. They rarely asked you to question anything, and mostly involved following a set of instructions with little room for variation or asking "what if." So today we measure the speed of a bb, rather than asking "how might we do that?" and then investigating, most HS labs I've seen say "we do that by..." with a checklist.
    • by Shin-LaC (1333529)
      I'm afraid that's not how it works. The truly intelligent have no trouble going through school, especially one as undemanding as the American K-12 is. Moreover, to "push the field forward" you have to know where to start from.

      As for lateral thinking, you can have a natural leaning towards a certain kind of mental activity because you're better than usual at it, or because you're worse than usual at everything else. In the latter case, it's perfectly possible to be a dumb lateral thinker.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      Asking why could expose the teacher's stupidity. Do you want the last glimpses of order to break down at schools?

      Honestly, I had great teachers, and I had poor teachers. And usually I noticed their greatness when I asked questions. How did they answer? The really crappy ones started to make things up to shut me up. The better ones admitted they don't know, but they'll look it up. If they were outright good, they actually did look it up and answered me later. The great ones answered and opened up another que

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SalaSSin (1414849)
      I don't know about the United States (Stupidity?) of America, but here in Europe we actually get to think during our studies... I mean come on, "academic world" in tv shows??? Jezus, the guys you see on US television are not really looked upon as "geniuses" here... What you call "academic world" isn't even the real thinkers of your universities, for whom i have a great many respect.
    • by malkavian (9512)

      Everything requires a basis, and assumptions.
      In Science textbooks, all the stuff presented there is either "wrong, but to all intents and purposes for the level that people studying it at the time are concerned, observably correct", or actually correct to the best understanding at the time of writing (though unless you're studying at the highest level, it may omit large parts of the story that you just don't need to know).
      Each of these books is available to scrutiny, and if they get it wrong, I can pretty m

    • But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

      This isn't quite the case. In a lot of cases the "truly intelligent" ask questions that even the teacher hasn't thought about or really can't answer properly. Instead of the teacher admitting defeat they get defensive. I saw it a few times even at post-graduate level. Humans are fallable but they don't want to be seen to be in front of their peers.

      I have noticed a trend in society that seems to be getting worse, and that is rewarding rampant stupidity. Some of the most highly paid people are some of th

    • by EdIII (1114411) *

      If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

      God forbid we'd ever want kids actually thinking for themselves or questioning anything, if that happened they might, you know... Push the field forward...

      But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

      Gospel. Yeah, pret

  • Hi Texas (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:57AM (#26587199)

    Welcome to the civilized world.

  • .... Since a monkey can hack a Diebold voting machine.... And Bush has been determined to be the worst US president... There has to be a connection.

    • So logic tells me that someone who can hack a Diebold machine becomes president...

      • by Firehed (942385)

        I know a lot of monkeys that would be tremendously insulted by that statement, if only they knew how to read.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:08AM (#26587269) Homepage Journal

    I think it would be valuable if schools taught methods and logic. Not just knowledge, but also the way of how knowledge can be arrived at. Teach people what is and what isn't a conclusive argument, point out the factors that complicate deriving valid conclusions from one's observations, and show that how experiments can be set up to minimize those factors. Preferably also teach statistics, so that people can calculate the probability of two things being corerlated vs. the probability that an observation is due to other factors.

    All these are valuable skills, not specifically in the evolution debate, but in every aspect of life.

    As for my stance on religious issues...I am convinced that we have no conclusive evidence one way or the other on most of them, and I would say that, until we do (which I think will never happen) everyone should be free to believe as they do. Nothing gives me the right to force my beliefs on you, and the same applies in the other direction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Nice idea, but if people at large were taught how to think, then the government as it exists today would not last long. You will find that in almost every aspect, government players depend heavily on people who think that thinking somehow hurts their brains.

      I find it interesting to see patterns that even I fall into myself. When someone thinks differently, we want to stamp it out. It is just the aspects and details by which we determine differences that change. I want people to think critically of EVERY

      • by apoc.famine (621563) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .enimaf.copa.> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:50AM (#26588615) Homepage Journal

        Nice idea, but if people at large were taught how to think, then the government as it exists today would not last long.

        You cynical bastard..... Of course, you're 100% right. As a science teacher, I can clearly state that School isn't about learning to think, and developing logic. School is about learning to engage/disengage when you hear the bell. It's about being able to work the line, downtrodden with the rest of your social peers.

        I had some high ideals for what Education was once. That was before getting a Master's degree in Education, and working in a public high school. I could be the best science teacher ever, do original research and instill thought and logic into my students. Except for a system that doesn't let me. By the time I see students in 9th grade, the #1 question they have is "What's the answer?", followed by "Am I right?".

        As a science teacher, that kills me. Science is the PROCESS of FINDING that answer, of PROVING that you're right. When the base mechanic that all students operate under is right/wrong, with the answer as the most important thing, Science (and Education) has already lost.

        Our state standardized test for Science is a largely multiple-choice, "do you remember what you were taught in Science?" test. Since WHEN is Science about regurgitating facts? It's not. But designing a test where students must figure something out on their own is hard to do, hard to score, and entirely outside much of their skillset, due to a life-time of fact regurgitation. This ties directly into religion as well, for such qualities are REQUIRED to be religious. You must be able to spit out the tenets of your faith. You must noe use use logic and question what's mashed into your head by those above you.

        As a Science teacher, what am I to do? If our scores drop too much due to students being unable to barf out facts on command, then the administration takes a look at the department to see if we're doing our "jobs". And as our job is clearly to stuff the heads of mindless automatons with facts, until the bell rings and they move to the next filling station, those not doing that need to be seriously worried about their jobs. And that's as it should be - our society doesn't run on millions of individuals, having individual thoughts and doing individual things. It runs on Industry and Media. It runs on 3 types of beer, 2 types of soda, 3 major sports on TV, 2 types of reality show formats, 5 types of car, etc. It runs from bell to bell, then people drive in their similar cars, on the same roads, to their similar houses, and eat the same sorts of dinner. Anything else, and it all falls apart. And that, of course, must be weeded out and crushed somewhere - luckily school is mandatory, even if religion is not. The most effective schools and states have somehow combined the two.

    • Those skills should very definitely be taught. What should also be taught - and almost never is - is how to use those skills to understand what question one is trying to answer. This is one of the biggest failures I see in students coming from high school into university - you ask them a question, or set them a problem, and they do not stop and think and analyze to determine what it is they are really being asked. Instead they make a guess or an assumption and end up either answering the wrong question, a d
  • Texas Board of Ed should be simply supporting the unadulterated teaching of actual science, period. You simply don't get to pick and choose what you like and don't like about science. That's what the Scientific Method is for, and if they were teaching that, there would be no place whatsover for Creation "Science" or "Intelligent" Design. They would simply be scientific hypotheses which are either true or false. Then you have to discuss the falseability of those hypotheses, and if they are not falsefiable, t
  • wrong direction (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Donovon (1245428)
    I think they are headed the wrong direction with this.

    Evolutionary theory is vastly unimportant compared to a lack of Scientific Method. I see the requirement of showing weaknesses in Darwinian Evolution as forcing the employment of Scientific Method on difficult, emotion laden, and controversial issues. Beating the method into young impressionable skulls is far more important than whether they believe in creation by amoeba or creation by God. Teach them to think, don't tell them what to believe.

    Jus
  • by drfireman (101623) <dan@@@kimberg...com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:05AM (#26587843) Homepage

    In the context of this hot-button topic, this is an important and necessary decision, but it's probably in general a good idea to impress upon students that scientific theories are never perfect, they all have strengths and weaknesses and even the most successful (e.g., evolution, Newtonian mechanics) leave plenty of room for refinement. Scientific theories have their own kind of Darwinian evolution, and while I don't necessarily want introductory classes to undermine everything they're teaching, it might be helpful if a part of science education were to provide better insight into the nature of the scientific enterprise than they do currently.

  • unhappy title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brre (596949) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:46AM (#26588577)
    A more accurate title would be "Texas supports teaching science in science classes".

    Texas as far as I can see takes no position on what specifically currently is accepted by scientific community as science, leaving that once again as it had always been before, up to publishers of science books. That seems a wise choice.

    And Texas likewise makes no limitations on what may be presented in courses on history, literature, comparative religion, anthropology, and so on. That also seems wise. The only problem was teaching religion in a science course. That problem is now solved.

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