Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (1995)

Position on the Teaching of Evolution for Voices for Evolution

BSCS, founded in 1958, was largely responsible for reintroducing evolution into the high school biology curriculum, following a four-decade period during which evolution virtually disappeared from high school biology textbooks. From its inception, BSCS has treated evolution as the central organizing theme of biology, listing it first, for example, among the biological principles that guided the development of all early BSCS programs.

The Biology Teachers' Handbook, published by BSCS in 1963, stressed the importance of concentrating on major principles in biology and gave special attention to evolution, stating: " It is no longer possible to give a complete or even a coherent account of living things without the story of evolution." The intervening three decades have affirmed that assertion, with progress in genetics, molecular biology, behavior, development, neuroscience, and other sub-disciplines reinforcing and expanding evolutionary perspectives originally based on gross morphological data.

The recent and rapid growth of knowledge in all areas of biology makes it ever more important — and difficult — to focus curriculum and teaching on major principles. To that end, BSCS recently published Developing Biological Literacy: A Guide to Developing Secondary and Post-secondary Biology Curricula (1993). This document identifies six unifying principles of biology that should pervade the teaching of biology, and it states the BSCS position on evolution quite clearly:

How can one simultaneously account of the extraordinary diversity and observable unity of living systems in the world today? The answer, in a word, is evolution. Evolution is the unifying theory of biology because it has played a role in the history and lives of all living organisms on Earth today — and of those that are now extinct. Evolution is the major conceptual scheme of biology because it helps us understand relationships between organisms, past and present, and the many ways organisms have succeeded in different habitats.

We recognize that there are other ways of knowing, but ours is the scientific pursuit of knowledge. As BSCS approaches its fortieth anniversary of service to science education, it remains committed to the accurate and thorough representation of evolution as the conceptual keystone to our understanding of life on Earth. Furthermore, BSCS will continue to defend scientific integrity and will resist all attempts to influence its materials in ways that portray non-scientific explanations of life on Earth as scientifically valid.

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