Educator Warns About De-Emphasizing Evolution Education


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Canada’s Toronto Star reports on McGill University professor Brian Alters’ efforts to “warn” Canada of the dangers of “de-emphasizing” evolution education. As director of McGill’s Evolution Education Research Centre, he explains that “informal research by his centre has found that about one-third of teachers report pressure from parents to teach creationism or intelligent design” (the article does not make clear what the “informal research” was). Alters believes teachers respond to such pressure by “teaching neither evolution nor creationism [sic], leaving students with the impression that the two are of equal merit.”

Some of Alters’ critics, however, suggest he is overstating the situation in an effort to receive government research funding. “He and his colleagues are essentially importing a controversy that doesn't exist here,” says Denyse O’Leary, a Canadian author. Alters bid for government funding to research the teaching of intelligent design was rejected last year.

Most telling, however, is Alters’ prescribed way of countering such activist parents who meddle in public school education:

[H]e wants parents to play an active role in ensuring that evolution gets taught in their children’s classes.

In other words, Alters (who debated AiG-US President Ken Ham at Harvard several years ago) can’t stand the thought of creationist parents asking creation to be taught in schools (a contention he can only back up with “informal research”); yet he relishes the thought of evolutionist parents actively pushing for a greater role for evolution education in the classroom-even when it’s not part of the actual class curriculum!

Neither [evolutionary biologist Daniel] Brooks nor Alters argues that teachers are deliberately teaching creationism over evolution. Instead, teachers can feel stuck between trying to keep religion out of the classroom and not wanting to offend the beliefs of students or their families by teaching evolution-particularly if it’s not on the curriculum.

He relishes the thought of evolutionist parents actively pushing for a greater role for evolution education in the classroom.

So let’s review Alters’ (and others’) view of evolution education in public schools:

  1. It’s very wrong for parents to try to persuade teachers to teach creation.
  2. It’s very right for parents to persuade teachers to teach evolution.
  3. Evolution should be taught even if it’s missing from the official curriculum.

It sounds as though ardent evolutionists are more to fear than ardent creationists! Indeed, if the likes of Alters have their way in Canada and elsewhere, it would be a crime for creationist parents to weigh in on the slightest regarding their children’s science education, whereas evolutionist parents would have carte blanche to influence public school science curricula.

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