Only 28% of US Biology Teachers Teach Evolution

America’s disgrace
Science • Views: 32,484

A survey by Science magazine reveals a very serious problem in American science education; a majority of biology teachers shy away from teaching the scientific theory of evolution, while a sizable minority are unashamed creationists.

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.

The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs.

The article points out that biology is the most popular science class in high schools, and that for a quarter of students it will be the only science class they take. So for a large number of students, their only exposure to science is tainted by irrational religious fundamentalism. Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing fields of science, and America is squandering its future by indoctrinating far too many students with Dark Ages nonsense.

This really is America’s disgrace; of the world’s developed nations, only Turkey ranks lower in acceptance of evolution.

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