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Teaching Evolutionary Theory

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Grant Meth Grant Meth 365 Points

Hello all,

My name is Grant Meth and I am a 3rd year preservice teacher at Wartburg College. I am majoring in PE but I am also getting an endorsement in secondary science. Recently in a class, we talked about teaching evolutionary theory in school and how it is a touchy subject because of religious beliefs. We discussed some solutions like meeting with students or families in one on one settings after school to respectfully discuss the situation. We also brainstormed some other methods to deal with this touchy subject. I am wondering if anyone has any tips on how they approach teaching a topic like evolutionary theory without creating controversy among students, families, or the community? I am also curious if anyone has stories of how they dealt with a situation related to teaching controversial topics?

Susan Cooper Susan Cooper 7210 Points

Hello Grant,

I highly recommend the National Center for Science Education resources. Go to https://ncse.ngo/ to find out more. Good luck!

Dr. Susan J. Cooper, Florida Gulf Coast University

Anna Rood Anna Rood 325 Points

It is important to address to parents and students that you are not trying to change their beliefs, but trying to get them to understand the concept. Just like any other concept in school that is taught. Teach it for students to understand it, not to believe it. It is important for students to understand that it is a theory. Meaning, it is a concept supported by fossil records and DNA studies and it is accepted by scientist all over the world. Many do not take the word theory professional due to its misuse and that theories are mallable. Theories have a main overall concept, but evidence, facts, supporting the concept can be changed as new evidence and/or technology is revealed. 

Evolution brings contraversiies to schools and school boards due to relgion, but that should not be the case. Here is some evidence/resources that states evolution and relgion can co-exist. https://ncse.ngo/statements-religious-organizations & https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-christian-mans-evolution/ & Clery Letter & standards from NGSS supporting it being taught in schools. 

If you are teaching science education, a fun way to teach evolution is through the game telephone. If you have never heard of it and are teaching evolution in school look more into this. This is a great way for students to understand evolutions complexity. Describing the theory of evolution as a Jigsaw puzzle is also another way that I found great for students to understand. --- The theory of evolution is like a big jigsaw puzzle that has been put together first when Darwin found this theory to be true almost 150 years ago. As time as gone on and new evidence and technology has come about, new and different parts have been added to the puzzle. At sometimes there is a piece of the puzzle that is in the wrong spot (when evidence is found to be disproven), but that evidence can fit somewhere else within the puzzle.

Any more questions, ask them down below. I did a presentation on evolution and feel confident in teaching it more than ever before! Thank you!!

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