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Apr 18 2014

Teaching confidence rather than knowledge

Dunning-Krueger strikes again! A survey of Oklahoma students showed that their high school biology course caused a net reduction in their knowledge of evolution.

The study, conducted by Tony Yates and Edmund Marek, tested biology teachers and students in 32 Oklahoma public high schools via a survey the pair called “the Biological Evolution Literacy Survey.” The survey was administered to the teachers first, to get a benchmark of their grasp of evolutionary theory. The survey was then administered twice to the students — once before they took the required Biology I course, and once after they had completed it.

Yates and Marek found that prior to instruction, students possessed 4,812 misconceptions about evolutionary theory; after they completed the Biology I course, they possessed 5,072. Of the 475 students surveyed, only 216 decreased the number of misconceptions they believed, as opposed to 259 who had more of them when they finished the course than before they took it.

The scary part is that the students were more confident of their knowledge, despite being even more muddled than when they started.

How could this be? One contributor:

This may be because “about one-fourth of Oklahoma public school life-science teachers place moderate or strong emphasis on creationism.” In fact, two students scored higher initially on the Biological Evolution Literacy Survey than their respective teachers.

We clearly need to do a better job teaching the teachers.

63 comments

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  1. 1
    qwints

    This is consistent with my experience – one factor I noticed was creationist types would push the teacher in class and she wouldn’t contradict them, just saying she had to teach what the book taught.

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    4,812 different misconceptions?

  3. 3
    Artor

    Either that’s an incredible comprehensive test, or the 4,812 errors were in toto, rather than unique mistakes.

  4. 4
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I hate this country. I genuinely do not think we can save ourselves as a first world nation. Our cultural rot is too deep and has gone on too long.

  5. 5
    robro

    We clearly need to do a better job teaching the teachers.

    The likelihood of getting those who value belief over reality to change seems distantly remote.

  6. 6
    Lynna, OM

    Well, that was interesting. I liked seeing the reduction in knowledge/understanding actually measured. I’ve always thought that misinformation pushes real information out. The brain makes sure to remember the misinformation from the creationist teachers, (for grades, for praise, because of peer pressure), and then the brain throws the real information in the garbage.

  7. 7
    Binam Irani

    Evo Devo falsified

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12064-014-0200-4

    The “theory” of evolutionary developmental biology is now in ruins following this publication. Maybe PZ should consider a career change.

  8. 8
    Owen

    #7 – Ahahahaha. I think not. You have to do better than one paper with an abstract that reads like a polemic.

  9. 9
    chigau (違う)

    At first I thought #7 was off-topic but it really fits in with this thread’s title.

  10. 10
    stever

    We don’t so much need to do a better job of teaching the teachers as we need to keep the creationist nutcases out of the profession, just as police forces and security companies need to do a better job of screening bullies out of their applicant pool.

  11. 11
    Binam Irani

    It’s over, Owen. Only when things are really bad does a paper like that get published which is so contrary to the orthodoxy. Sadly, science education is way behind the experts in the field.

  12. 12
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Binam irani, #7.

    Since there is literally no data in the abstract, perhaps you would like to pay for the article, read it, and give us your educated opinion on how the data cited and the manner of its analysis leaves in ruins the idea of descent with modification and/or the idea that differential death rates can affect the proportion of a population with a given allele of a given gene?

    We are waiting breathlessly for your engaging, data driven, logically compelling comment on the topic*.

    *or, y’know, maybe we aren’t.

  13. 13
    Inaji

    Chigau:

    At first I thought #7 was off-topic but it really fits in with this thread’s title.

    Sadly true. It would be a nice change if people were afraid to be so very ignorant, rather than proud of it.

  14. 14
    runrabbitrun

    As a secondary science teacher in Colorado, the school i teach at enforces the use of “curriculum” maps that outline concepts and time frames for teaching them . The aim of these is to hit all of the content the student can expect to see on standardized tests by the time the tests roll around. The concepts are color coded, so reds MUST be taught at a certain time, blues/greens should be taught at a certain time and blacks COULD be taught if you get around to it…..guess which category evolution is in : / Since the CSAP/TCAP..CMASS…PARCC? ( i dunno whatever the corporatists are selling us these days) is held in march, the black concepts are relegated to 4th quarter/spring when student attention is waning. I’ve worked around this by embedding evolution into the ‘red’ concepts: genetics, ecology, cellular processes etc. BUT this means that if a teacher is so inclined, they don’t have to directly address evolution at all! AND biology I is the only life science the students have to take, so it’s entirely possible that someone could graduate from this school having never even heard of or discussed evolution.

  15. 15
    Pen

    It would have been nice to have a formal control, both with a less controversial biology subject and the same student/teacher combinations and/or with other subjects.

  16. 16
    octopod

    Data? That paper doesn’t have any data — it seems to be a review paper. It just cites a whole bunch of other studies about non-genetically-determined self-organization, and sort of ties them all together into a big block diagram thing.

    Hey, it cites Pivar (2009)! How about that?

    Still frankly not sure what it’s got to do with evo-devo though, even after reading the whole thing.

  17. 17
    steffp

    Joseph E. Hannon Bozorgmehr, the author of the paper mentioned in #7, works at University of Tehran’s · Department of Biophysical Chemistry. Not a place commonly known for academic freedom. His objectives may be obtained from his following question: (at researchgate.net/profile/Joseph_Hannon_Bozorgmehr/topics)

    Given the fact that many nations are currently running up large budget deficits, can scientific researchers justify asking science funding organizations to provide them with money so that they can carry out their own pet projects which may be of little or no benefit to the general public? Would you allocate funds to a paleontologist who wants to dig for the remains of an extinct jurassic fish? Would you give away public money so that some rare species of sloth can have its genome sequenced? Would you fund an investigation into the way in which light bends when approaching a black hole? Shouldn’t these types of research projects always be funded by philanthropists and non-governmental donors?

  18. 18
    Rob Grigjanis

    Binam Irani @7: About the author;

    Joseph “Atheistoclast” Bozorgmehr takes the very unusual approach of actually trying to read scientific literature and then convince himself that it supports his own views. His ability to convince himself that all the authors and editors have misinterpreted their own work is a testament to the potential folly of even a seemingly intelligent human mind, when compromised by self-serving bias and emotional issues.

  19. 19
    Rob Grigjanis

    Bozorgmehr seems to be the William Lane Craig of biology.

  20. 20
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It’s over, Owen. Only when things are really bad does a paper like that get published which is so contrary to the orthodoxy. Sadly, science education is way behind the experts in the field.

    What field? Pull bullshit out of their asses to explain imaginary things controlling what is explained by real science as natural processes?

  21. 21
    Nentuaby

    Hey, it cites Pivar (2009)! How about that?

    Hah! I saw the title and was surprised it wasn’t an actual Pivar monoscript. It shocks me not at all that it does end up citing him.

  22. 22
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Hah! I saw the title and was surprised it wasn’t an actual Pivar monoscript. It shocks me not at all that it does end up citing him.

    Citing known cranks to support your idea probably means your idea isn’t very good.

  23. 23
    David Chapman

    From: The role of self-organization in developmental evolution (Abstract):

    Recent evidence indeed points to the existence of a self-organizing process, operating through a set of intrinsic rules and forces, which imposes coordination and a holistic order upon cells and tissue.

    This remarkable work seems to be introducing fundamental discoveries in physics at the same time as overturning Neo-Darwinism. What the fuck are “intrinsic forces”???

  24. 24
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    davidchapman #23

    This remarkable work seems to be introducing fundamental discoveries in physics at the same time as overturning Neo-Darwinism. What the fuck are “intrinsic forces”???

    According to the Wiki article on Pivar under biological theories, something like:

    Beginning with his book Lifecode in 2004 Pivar has published novel claims about the evolution of species. He asserts that the body form of species are encoded not in DNA but in the patterned structure of a primordial germ plasm.[12][2] However, critics have stated that Pivar’s proposed developmental sequences bear no resemblance to anything actually observed during embryological development.[2] Massimo Pigliucci says that Pivar’s ideas constitute pseudoscience. On his blog “Pharyngula”, developmental biologist PZ Myers reviewed Lifecode and concluded that it was “a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals”..[13][14] In 2007 Pivar attempted to sue Seed Media, whose ScienceBlogs hosted “Pharyngula”, for describing him as “classic crackpot”,[15] but the case was withdrawn after ten days.[16][17][18]

    Crank material.

  25. 25
    chigau (違う)

    I really wish that my mind worked in a way that I could come up with a phrase like
    “a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals”.

  26. 26
    René

    I used to write Dunning-Krüger, being a smart-ass European who had German under his belt at a very young age (German EXPERIMENTAL television). So, I found PZ’s American approximation ‘Krueger’ quite acceptable. Until I recalled Ellis Island, where immigrants were stripped of their accents.

    It’s Dunning-Kruger nowadays.

  27. 27
    René

    Maybe I should have used ‘diacritics’ instead.

  28. 28
    mathnerde

    Not that this really adds much to the conversation, but Ed Marek was my 10th grade Biology teacher. And even though I didn’t go into biological science, I do still have good memories of that class. I don’t really remember much about evolution though. But that could be because it was Oklahoma in the 70s.

  29. 29
    Binam Irani

    David Chapman,

    I believe the paper makes reference to the research of a Japanese team:

    Self-organizing optic-cup morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture
    http://drwilliamhuang.com/stem_retinol.pdf

    This study has revealed that the complex morphogenesis of the retinal anlage,at least in the in vitro context,possesses a‘latent intrinsic order’ involving dynamic self-patterning and self-formation driven by a sequential combination of local rules and internal forces within the epithelium.

  30. 30
    mykroft

    My children were unfortunately exposed to Oklahoma educations, but thankfully we got out before getting into Biology I territory. My older kids were in a program for gifted children. I remember talking to the principle of their school, who was unhappy that resources were being diverted into the gifted program.

    He told us, “I don’t know why y’all people up north want to push your kids so haard.”

    We were so glad to leave that state.

  31. 31
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    his study has revealed that the complex morphogenesis of the retinal anlage,at least in the in vitro context,possesses a‘latent intrinsic order’ involving dynamic self-patterning and self-formation driven by a sequential combination of local rules and internal forces within the epithelium.

    Sounds like another crank reading Pivar and thinking it is real science, not crankism.

  32. 32
    mykroft

    Oops. Principal, not principle.

  33. 33
    anteprepro

    Binam and Atheistoclast’s argument is either an utter non-argument or complete and utter stupidity.

    As I delve further, the probability of the latter increases.

    Behold:

    It might also be helpful to regard self-organizing principles as not themselves being entirely dependent upon the material systems that they shape. This may explain why random mutations in DNA, the engine of evolutionary change according to Neo-Darwinian theory , can lead to significant perturbations in the developmental process—such as the distortion, transposition, loss or duplication of bodily parts—but rarely ever produce a wholly different morphology that deviates from the norm

  34. 34
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Ah, Anteprepro #33, your quote is typical of the fuckwitted idjits who can’t go from microevolution to macroevolution, although there is no dividing line, and only the number and types of mutations are important. They can’t see the forest for the trees….

  35. 35
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    René 26,27

    Well, it was pretty much both.

  36. 36
    rorschach

    This may be because “about one-fourth of Oklahoma public school life-science teachers place moderate or strong emphasis on creationism.”

    I know I should be well used to this by now, but my first thought here is, well if you teach creationism, or don’t teach biology to the standards, then you should not be fucking teaching in the first place. I don’t know that “teaching the teachers better” is going to cut it if there are such problems with the basics of the subject.

    It’s like putting a holocaust-denying history teacher in charge of the 20th-century Germany course.

  37. 37
    anteprepro

    Nerd: I was more focused on conveniently eliding that Neo Darwinism doesn’t think it is JUST mutations, what with epigenetics and genetic drift too. And also stuff like polyploidy, splicing errors, and other such chromosomal magic, besides the regular “fuck up a gene or two” mutations. It’s just not honest to insist that Neo Darwinists believe it is just mutation all the way down. Or at least, I don’t think it is, if I remember my bio classes correctly!

  38. 38
    anteprepro

    rorshach:

    It’s like putting a holocaust-denying history teacher in charge of the 20th-century Germany course.

    And it’s rough. Because the most prolific textbook makers happen to be holocaust-deniers. And a good half of the politicians in charge of everything are also holocaust deniers. God knows, a good chunk of teachers are holocaust deniers, and in certain parts of the country, the parents will get pissed if they hear about a teacher daring to teach about the holocaust as fact. At very least, the teachers and government should be reasonable and compromise. They should teach the controversy. Show the case for and against the Holocaust happening and just let the students decide. You think the Holocaust happened? That’s just, like, your opinion. Don’t make this so political.

  39. 39
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Or at least, I don’t think it is, if I remember my bio classes correctly!

    But that is the tell IDiots and Creobots use.
    Personally, when somebody says which is happening in biological systems, and gives half a dozen possibilities, my predilection is to just say “yes”. Biology is messy, and whatever can happen, likely happens somewhere.

    But some primordial structures controlling “balloon animal” shapes??? To quote the famous side-kick Al Borland, “I don’t think so Tim”.

  40. 40
    anteprepro

    Nerd:

    Personally, when somebody says which is happening in biological systems, and gives half a dozen possibilities, my predilection is to just say “yes”. Biology is messy, and whatever can happen, likely happens somewhere.

    My background is psych and one of the first things I learned in high school was the Nature Vs. Nurture debate.
    Basically the resolution was: “Both, now shut your gobs, you fucking binary thinkers”.

    It fascinates me that these folks regurgitate things that biologists already know about and think that they somehow have refuted the Darwinian paradigm or some shit. The hubris! The Dunning Kruger! The incidental returning to the OP!

  41. 41
    quiet heretic

    Looking at the paper, I have issues with some of the questions.

    http://www.evolution-outreach.com/content/7/1/7/table/T3

    For example,

    Q 8) Traits acquired during the lifetime of an organism – such as large muscles produced by body building – will not be passed along to offspring.

    They expect the response Agree. In general this is true but there are some traits such as a sensitivity to odors which have been shown to be inherited through epigenetics in mice.

    Q 12) Individual organisms adapt to their environments.

    They expect the response “Disagree”. The problem is that the term “adapt” is vague. An octopus can adapt to the presence of a coconut shell in its environment by using it for protection. The behavior may not be inherited but it may still count as “adapting”.

    Q 21) According to the theory of evolution, humans evolved from monkeys, gorillas, or apes.

    They expect the response “disagree”. Although I agree that humans didn’t evolve from modern-day monkeys, gorilla’s or apes, I would claim that humans evolved from a common ancestor of all apes which itself would be classified as an ape and that humans and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor which would likely be categorized as a monkey. Similarly, all animals evolved from a common ancestor which would be classified as an animal.

    Most of the other questions seem clear but the presence of ambiguous questions makes the study questionable.

  42. 42
    gmcard

    Gorillas OR apes, huh. Phenomenal test.

  43. 43
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @octopod:

    Data? That paper doesn’t have any data — it seems to be a review paper.

    No, I got that. But review papers are supposed to be based on data, too, just not data collected by the authors of the review paper.

    I was looking for someone* to actually check the paper against the cites and do some thinking. Not that I think this person is at all capable of doing good critical thinking (at least in this area – sometimes otherwise good critical thinkers do just entirely lose it for certain subjects only). But, y’know, if Irani states up front that Irani is unwilling/unable to do that analysis, it saves all of us a lot of time.

    *Hopefully someone whose name rhymes with Liman Mirani.

    Mmm. Now I’m thinking about pie.

  44. 44
    ChasCPeterson

    prior to instruction, students possessed 4,812 misconceptions about evolutionary theory; after they completed the Biology I course, they possessed 5,072. Of the 475 students surveyed, only 216 decreased the number of misconceptions they believed, as opposed to 259 who had more of them when they finished the course than before they took it.

    Before: 10.13 (alleged) misconceptions per student
    After: 10.68 (a)mps.
    So an extra half a misconception per.
    But 45% of students had fewer alleged misconceptions after.
    Therefore the other 55% probably picked up just one or two alleged misconceptions each.

    Probably all could be accounted for by the stupid, stupid monkey/gorialla/ape question quoted in comment #41.
    Humans did indeed evolve from apes and monkeys (though not gorillas)
    (And there are at least eight distinct meanings of ‘adaptation’ in biology, several of which do apply to individuals.)

    Seriously: we need to vet who’s scoring the “misconceptions” before drawing conclusion one here.

  45. 45
    playonwords

    @ #7 Binam Irani

    That reads like a cross between Rupert Sheldrake woozle and Q’ranic creationist dribble. A Secular Cafe thread contains a nice takedown

    @ everyone else If it is the real Binam Irani then his Facebook entry indicates he studied Food Engineering at Islamic Azad University of Sabzevar, which is a great qualification for assessing a biological paper, at least in his mind.

  46. 46
    damien75

    I’m lost here. Please, can anyone explain me how students can have more misconceptions after being taught than before?

    Is that the usual trend? Is that the way it goes for other topics in biology, for instance?

  47. 47
    AndersH

    damien75:
    Because the mean number of undecided/don’t know decreased from 3.92 to 2.15, and the group’s BEL Survey Mean Index Score went from 70.11 to 71.72. In other words, although the number of misconceptions increased, the number of correct (rather than unknown) answers increased more. In other words, the students did learn new information, but they rarely changed their minds. I can’t at the moment find whether moving from undecided to having misconceptions correlated with a high degree of misconceptions pre-instruction (which could point to a political opposition which expanded to include the newly explained concepts).

  48. 48
    zenlike

    A paper written by an islamic creationist who trolls the internet under the very academic-sounding name of ‘atheistoclast’ has disproven evolution?

    It’s over people! It’s over!

  49. 49
    AndersH

    Oh, what I originally meant to post was that I found this abstract by Bozorgmehr interesting, in that it includes an argument we’ve seen quite often:
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10818-010-9094-5
    The methodological reductionism at the heart of evolutionary biology certainly does offer insightful empirical results reported in the scientific literature. Nonetheless, natural selection is observed to be a purely reflexive mechanism and not one capable of producing the kind of innovation necessary for the more revolutionary changes in an organism’s systems.

  50. 50
    damien75

    Thank you Anders H.

  51. 51
    zenlike

    Bwahaha, Joseph E. Hannon Bozorgmehr was apparently active over at the creationist hive of idiots UncommonDescent, which already gives you enough info on his scientific credibility, until his holocaust denial became a bit too public.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/culture/joseph-bozorgmehr-is-no-longer-with-us/

    http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?s=40fce5fc1077d6b671f9a9917bf32a8f&t=18495

    Great sources Binam Irani.

  52. 52
    zenlike

    AndersH, it’s the typical ‘information’ line pushed by UncommonDescent. Which he was linked to. Yeah, we’re done here, another IDiot, this time an islamic one. Who cares: scientific credibility = zero.

  53. 53
    prfesser

    @ #46 damien75

    Part of the problem—by no means the entire problem—is that the emphasis for many (most?) future teachers is on “education” courses — *how* to teach rather than *what* you’re going to teach. In many cases high school teachers are attempting to teach science without even a minor, much less a major, in that science.

    And elementary/middle school teachers may be teaching “science” wherein the sum total of their knowledge comes from BIO101, Biology For Poets And Football Players (Fulfills minimum science requirement).

  54. 54
    rorschach

    In many cases high school teachers are attempting to teach science without even a minor, much less a major, in that science.

    How did you people ever make it to the moon with that strategy, I wonder?

    Oh, wait.

  55. 55
    carlie

    Fuckin’ hell, I’d answer “yes” to that monkeys/apes/gorillas question without even thinking twice about it, because I’d read the combination as trying to indicate the primate clade.

    The problem with these kinds of things is that the more you know, the more you can find exceptions for every statement and the resulting answer can get misconstrued. I’ve never been a fan of straight-up true/false questions for scoring learning unless it’s of the “if you think it’s false, rewrite it to be a true statement” type.

  56. 56
    carlie

    And elementary/middle school teachers may be teaching “science” wherein the sum total of their knowledge comes from BIO101, Biology For Poets And Football Players (Fulfills minimum science requirement).

    Which is taught by an adjunct who, although perfectly knowledgeable and capable in teaching the subject, is teaching five or six sections at two or three colleges to make ends meet and runs out of time and just didn’t quite get to everything that semester.

  57. 57
    canadiansteve

    We clearly need to do a better job teaching the teachers.

    This is part of the larger war on education in the US. As a teacher here in Canada I look at what I would get paid, and the conditions I would work under if I were to be in the US, and wonder why any sane person would consider becoming a teacher there. This situation has been intentionally created by “education reformists” with no interest in educating children. The result is that people that are scientists, mathemeticians and engineers quickly discover that the meagre wage they receive as a teacher doesn’t cover the mental anguish of being a teacher, and they go on to places their talents are appreciated.

  58. 58
    David Marjanović

    Mr. Bozorgmehr is actually banned on Pharyngula. :-)

    The “theory” of evolutionary developmental biology

    Evolutionary development biology isn’t a theory, it’s a science. What you wrote is like writing “the ‘theory’ of biology” or “the ‘theory’ of physics” or “the ‘theory’ of chemistry”.

    In other words, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Be ashamed while I point and laugh at you.

    The abstract you linked to is incoherent rambling. I’ll have access to the paper on Wednesday; I’ll take a look at it then if that’s still necessary…

    Given the fact that many nations are currently running up large budget deficits, can scientific researchers justify asking science funding organizations to provide them with money so that they can carry out their own pet projects which may be of little or no benefit to the general public?

    Yes!

    First of all, it’s completely ridiculous to complain about the cost of basic research. The Iraq war cost the US alone three trillion dollars till 2006 – compared to military expenditures like that, everything else is peanuts.

    Second, they “may be of little or no benefit to the general public” (emphasis added). They may also be of immense benefit. Basic research is an investment.

    Would you allocate funds to a paleontologist who wants to dig for the remains of an extinct jurassic fish? Would you give away public money so that some rare species of sloth can have its genome sequenced? Would you fund an investigation into the way in which light bends when approaching a black hole?

    Fuck yes!!!

    Shouldn’t these types of research projects always be funded by philanthropists and non-governmental donors?

    That’s really remarkably ridiculous.

    How many “philanthropists and non-governmental donors” does this dolt imagine exist?

    I used to write Dunning-Krüger, being a smart-ass European who had German under his belt at a very young age

    It could be Dutch instead.

    I believe the paper makes reference to the research of a Japanese team:

    “Japanese” is 1) completely irrelevant and 2) wrong – Huang is a Chinese name that most Japanese couldn’t even pronounce.

    Q 21) According to the theory of evolution, humans evolved from monkeys, gorillas, or apes.

    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*

    Q’ran

    Arabic not being Vulcan, the apostrophe is a consonant, not a vowel. What you were aiming at is Qur’ān.

  59. 59
    Joey Maloney

    @PZ

    You might be thinking that if they’re this shocked, then perhaps they’re also realizing that the foundation of their faith is a piece of crap. Not so!

    How’s that old saw go? You can’t argue a person out of a position they weren’t argued into. Faith doesn’t depend on reading a book (obviously, since most of those people had never really read it before this). Faith is a prerational…and, I can’t find the right noun. It’s not a “decision” because it’s not rational. Trait? Orientation? Something.

    Anyway, the best you can hope for is these believers will come to a more mature understanding of Scripture as a collection of tales, cobbled together by a variety of authors from an oral tradition, each of whom had their own particular axes to grind. Even if there’s still supposedly “divine inspiration” lurking behind that in their worldview, I call it a win.

    Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.

  60. 60
    Joey Maloney

    Shit. Wrong thread. Never mind.

  61. 61
    sondra

    At the link provided I think the last paragraph should be included because it seems to indicate that kids that age cannot process such “complicated” stuff:

    Yates and Marek note that the problem may not entirely be the teachers fault, as some research indicates that “the topic of evolution is too complex for high school students, most of whom still think at the concrete level, lacking the cognitive development necessary to comprehend biological evolution-related concepts fully and are therefore unable to construct solid accurate understandings of the topic.”

    What a crock! I learned it from good teachers when I was in school and so did my classmates. It is certainly the teachers’ fault when just 2 of the students got higher marks than their teachers.

  62. 62
    thinksanddrinks

    stever: Exactly. I had teachers across the spectrum of faith (and competence; there was a strong inverse correlation, excepting the teachers with strong faith who kept it out of the classroom). About half the teachers I had in K12 were good (a few were excellent), and the other half should have been physically kicked out and kept from returning. (In some cases they were teachers who could get the point across but bullied kids and tried to force their opinions on the kids. I met one, years later, when I was bigger than the idiot, and scared the crap out of it. Yes, I used the word “it”; it is appropriate. It didn’t solve anything, but it made me feel better. If that bothers you, that’s fine.)

    My high school science teachers were excellent. They taught the science. However, they felt it necessary to use some weasel words around evolution to deflect some in the community. I asked one of them about it later and he confirmed why he had said what he said. There was no in-class discussion about evolution, but one guy said something negative about it later, and I made a point out of demolishing every argument he made in class for the rest of high school. (Little guys are easy to physically bully, but sometimes we return the favor in other venues.)

    My point? There are so many bad teachers out there that it is horrifying (my experience and my children’s experience). The good ones get intimidated. The bad ones don’t (until it is too late, anyway).

  63. 63
    thinksanddrinks

    We clearly need to do a better job teaching the teachers.

    No. We need to do a better job of kicking out some teachers. Figuratively in most cases, physically when that doesn’t work.

    Given some of the “teachers” I had to put up with, I would be in favor of far more extreme measures in some cases (in the case of my 4th grade teacher, running over with a steam roller would be the low end of acceptable).

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