"The evolution of teaching evolution"

Louise MeadLouise Mead

Writing in The Hechinger Report (February 7, 2011), Jennifer Oldham addresses "The evolution of teaching evolution," explaining that, even in the face of persistent challenges and obstacles, "scientists and teachers are pushing to make evolution the backbone of biology lesson-plans from kindergarten through high school." Alluding to Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer's recent column, she wrote, "They have their work cut out for them. A recent article in Science found that almost three out of four high school students will get no schooling in evolutionary biology, or a version 'fraught with misinformation.'"

Louise Mead — formerly Education Project Director at NCSE, now Education Director at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action — explained, "there's been a realization that we have to address the misconceptions. There has been a renewed focus on how we teach evolution and renewed outreach." Cited were the University of California Museum of Paleontology's Understanding Evolution website, the BioKIDS curriculum developed at the University of Michigan, and the Evolution Readiness curriculum developed by the Concord Consortium.

The hope is that such resources will give teachers the knowledge they need to have confidence in teaching evolution, Judy Scotchmoor of UCMP explained. Jeremy Mohn, a biology teacher in Kansas who teaches evolution, also urged the necessity of addressing the nonscientific concerns of students in presenting evolution, observing, "You don't have people in a chemistry classroom who have been raised to believe that the periodic table comes from the devil and that if they believe in it they are going to go to hell."

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