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March 13, 2006


by Feòrag

England and Wales: Regular commenter G. Tingey managed to contact the Prattle Towers Temporary Irish Encampment with news from home. The message consisted of the word Arrrrggghhh! and a link to this story: Creationism to be taught on GCSE science syllabusThe Times, 10th March 2006.

Posted in Church and State and Science Fiction at 10:16. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:43.
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1: Posted by: Andy Gilmour | March 14, 2006 9:14 AM


If anyone wants to send OCR a query or complaint, the email address of their "Qualification Manager for Science" (ie the guy defending this nonsense), John Noel is:


IF (and it's a big one), this is just a poor representation of events such as Jefferson's denial of extinction, then fair enough, the guy isn't actually promoting creationism...but his use of the fundy buzzword "controversy" isn't encouraging.

Anyway, "history of scientific ideas" belongs, as its title might suggest, in a history classroom, not a science lab. What a waste of precious teaching time...

2: Posted by: Feòrag | March 14, 2006 9:32 AM

It was the use of 'controversy' that worried me, too, given its use by fundies. If the plan is simply to do a bit of history of science in with the science, and to use that to demonstrate how new theories emerge with additional data, then that's fine. The way in which Darwin (and others) came up with evolution by natural selection as a model to explain what he observed is a good example of how science works. The real controversies, past and present - such gradual vs. punctuated evolution - where there really is evidence to look at - are worth mentioning too. But it is written rather vaguely - I mean, it's not as if the fossil record can support the religious concept of creation once you look at it for more than three seconds - so I worry about what it means.

3: Posted by: aeduna | March 14, 2006 10:08 PM

IF the subject covered the history of science, and the various times that discoveries have caused social conflict, then it might be ok. If its just evolution, that sucks, but heliocentrism, difficulties with anatomy early on and other topics might be interesting to mention in a science subject. ... maybe a class or two out of the year.

4: Posted by: Andy Gilmour | March 15, 2006 9:11 AM

OCR has since categorically denied that they in any way regard creationism as science (so why bother with it in a science classroom, when it can be legitimately discussed in R.E. according to the Dept. of Education?), so why did they drag in evolution/creationism, unless they're:

a) deperately seeking publicity by using a 'media-friendly' example that by-passes the intellect? (creationism has never had anything to do with science, so by definition it can't be a "scientific" controversy)

b) trying to signal to fundies that there may be an opportunity for "creationism-friendly" teachers to use this to "teach the controversy"?

c) looking to break into the U.S. market for educational services?

Phlogiston and Plate Tectonics would have been far better examples of historical interpretation of empirical evidence/scientific controversy, but there ya go.

Maybe we should demand teaching David Hume's work in science classes? Or R.E. lessons to enforce some semblance of balance?

"A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence."

"All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability."

5: Posted by: G. Tingey | March 18, 2006 2:19 PM

And - there ARE teachers in the UK who will tell the deliberate lies of creationism to children - I've met a couple, when I was teaching.

Hence my original primal scream comment.

Wax lyrical

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