The Science Curriculum

Reuters reports in science news that the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the government on science and technology, has defended evolution as the “bedrock principle of modern biology,” and said that evolution, not creationism, must be taught in science classes. The report from the Institute of Medicine cites both creationism and intelligent design as “not science,” and states that these perspectives should not be taught in science classes:

Creationism, based on the explanation offered in the Bible, and the related idea of “intelligent design” are not science and, as such, should not be taught in public school science classrooms, according to the report. (story: ?Academy Stresses Evolution?s Importance,? by Will Dunham, Jan. 4, 2008, science news)

Dunham quotes Barbara Schaal, National Academy of Sciences Vice President, as stating “We need a citizenry that’s trained in real science.”
The report states that evolution:

  • is one of the most important ideas of modern science
  • is supported by abundant evidence from many different fields of scientific investigation
  • underlies the modern biological sciences, including the biomedical sciences
  • has applications in many other scientific and engineering disciplines
  • is important in understanding emerging infectious diseases

Taking a look at recent stories in health, particularly those linking breast, ovarian, and colon cancers to mutations of particular genes, gives some idea of the importance of understanding genetic science and the process of mutation. The effect of genetic mutation was observed in nature by Charles Darwin, English naturalist (1809?1882), and genetic patterns were successfully manipulated and described by Austrian Augustinian priest and scientist Gregor Johann Mendel (1822 ?1884), who is called “father of genetics” for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of teaching principles of evolution in the science classroom, but still today half of all U.S. adults are creationists, and many more are ?tolerant? of the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as equivalent “theories.” All of the studies that show we are lagging behind in education in science should consider this major and highly critical area in which we are running the wrong direction.

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