Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In the Beginning

Well...that was fun. I spent about an hour last night listening to citizens concerned about science curriculum in Texas speak to the State Board of Education. The basic requirements for science instruction (the science portion of the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills) apparently have not been reviewed in TEN YEARS. They have not changed, substantially (according to one SBOE member) in TWENTY YEARS! I'm wishing I could rewind the clock and put my children in private school. At issue is the inclusion of what half the SBOE (7 of the 15 memers) call "educational freedom"... more clearly stated as the introduction of information in science classes that would question the theory of evolution. Those critical of that idea (and there were almost 90 signed up to speak) think our public school science classes should stick to data borne of a methodical scientific proof process. Crazy, wild-eyed, liberal academics... You see, when we bring non-scientific ideas about the origin of the species into the classroom, it seems we open up a huge can of non-scientific worms. A quick Google this morning of creation stories has turned up scads of ideas on the subject, including: So...pick one. Which of these do you hope comes up in your child's high school SCIENCE class? Or, if you're a traditionalist...which of the Genesis creation stories do you hope is pondered in 9th grade Biology? The first one (Genesis 1:1-2:3) or the second one (Genesis 2:4 - 3:22)? Let me know what you're thinking. Even better...let the Texas State Board of Education know what you're thinking! Peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The old TEKS had "strengths and weaknesses" language in them, which the first draft released for review in September expunged in favor of teaching the scientific method. The response of the Creationists for several years now has been to change the terminology. They no longer advocate Creationism...they advocate "Intelligent Design". Following the same method, now that "weaknesses" has been exposed as a Creationist wedge into science textbooks, they have skittered under a different linguistic rock, "limitations", in the hopes nobody will notice until it is too late.

The first draft, page 8, said:

(A) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing;

The 2nd draft now says students are expected to...

(A) analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations of scientific explanations including those based on accepted scientific data, and evidence from students’ observations, experiments, models, and logical statements;

Which is utter non-science nonsense. Now High School students are supposed to evaluate the limitations of scientific explanations that are based on accepted scientific data?! In addition they are supposed to evaluate the limitations of scientific explanations that are based on STUDENTS observations, experiments and student's LOGICAL STATEMENTS?! What is that supposed to mean?

So the objective is now to teach students to question the validity of the scientific method, rather than teach them to use the scientific method.

That's a problem.

The fact that SBOE put Creationists on the scientific review panel pretty much tells the story. We would have been better off if that had not been allowed to happen, but it did.

See

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/science/expertfeedback.html

and particularly

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/science/Meyer.pdf

- D

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