Eugenie C. Scott – Not in Our Classrooms
Length: 172 pages
Started: 03 March 2013
Finished: 30 May 2013
Where did it come from? Bookmooch.
Why do I have it? It went on my wishlist before the first time I TAed an evolution course.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 March 2010.
The debate over
evolution in our schools
hasn’t evolved much.
Summary: Although the Scopes trial was almost 90 years ago, the issue of evolution education in American schools is still a contentious issue. Although strict creationism has been for the most part abandoned, its close cousin, intelligent design, has been repeatedly inserted into public school curricula. Although courts have struck down these efforts in recent decisions, like those in Dover, Pennsylvania, proponents of intelligent design have continued their efforts to discredit evolution and prevent its being taught. Not in Our Classrooms is a collection of essays put together by the National Center for Science Education, and geared to educate people that are interested in the state of America’s science curriculum about the history of the intelligent design movement and the ways that it has tried to introduce religious ideas into the public science classroom.
Review: Although I am, without question, deeply involved in science education, this book was not really geared towards me. I was expecting more of a guide on how to respond to creationist/intelligent design attacks on evolution education, with maybe a little historical and legal background thrown in for good measure. And that’s what I wanted; I teach evolution (among other things), and although it hasn’t been an issue yet, I wanted a resource for when that inevitable upset religious student comes to me contesting the course material. And that’s not what I got; this book was a lot more historical and legal background and not so much in the way of concrete advice.
So it turns out that this book is not really geared towards evolutionary biologists, nor even really science educators (at least not at the college level), but rather towards concerned parents and other citizens who know that science education is under threat, but may not know the specifics of what intelligent design is, or why incorporating it into public school science curricula is wrong. It’s a much broader audience than I was expecting, which is why I decided to review this book, even though I don’t normally review things I read for work.
Even though this book wasn’t quite what I was looking for, it does have a wealth of information that’s for the most part presented clearly and accessibly for the layperson. (Some of the stuff I found the driest and least accessible were the parts about specific legal issues; other readers might not have a problem with this.) It also presents an interesting range of viewpoints on the issue: science education experts, yes, but also religious, legal, and community organization perspectives as well. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it’s a resource that I’m glad exists. 3 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Readers looking for specific guides about what to *do* in order to maintain the scientific integrity of our classrooms might find this book a little vague, but it’s a good primer for those looking to know more about the controversy (…the controversy over what goes in public school curricula, that is; there is no scientific controversy regarding whether or not evolution is true, despite what the “teach the controversy” advocates would have us believe.)
For the most part, the opposition to evolution is religiously motivated. Unsurprisingly, then, creationists often allege that evolution is intrinsically atheistic, or that evolution is intrinsically anti-Christian, or that evolution is fraught with immoral consequences. But the fact that biology no longer invokes God to explain the history of life is no more proof of atheism than is the fact that meteorology no longer invokes God to explain the course of a hurricane. –p. 137
Other Reviews: Not terribly surprisingly, I didn’t find any others. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Just weeks after the legal team from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Pennsylvania affiliate of the ACLU, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP won a stunning victory in the Dover, Pennsylvania, intelligent design case, another creationism conflict reared its ugly head.
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