Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Senate 2692: Relating to Teaching Chemical and Biological Evolution

Well, the Florida education standards passed, with a vote of 4:3 and an amendment requiring evolution to be taught as the "scientific theory of evolution." However, there's still a lot of heat surrounding the issue and on February 29th, Florida State Senator Ronda Storms filed a bill calling for that "Provides public school teachers with a right to present scientific information relevant tot he full range of views on biological and chemical origins." The bill also calls for the following: "Prohibits a teacher from being discriminated against for presenting such information. Prohibits students from being penalized for subscribing to a particular position on evolution, etc."

So I have a question. First, can a teacher present any information relevant to the subject being taught? Is it okay for a history teacher to teach the alternate view that the Holocaust never happened and to support that view?

My junior high school science teacher, Charles Apinis, was one of the best teachers I've ever had. He had a way of teaching science that allowed us to reach conclusions about the lessons before he had to say what those conclusions should be. He let you stay after school and experiment in the lab. He often sat us down when he overheard one student mistreating another and lectured us on life. We learned about science and we learned how to treat people with kindness and respect.
Mr. Apinis died a little less than a decade ago and when he passed, we found out that he was deeply religious. Never, during the years I had him as a teacher, did he mention god in the classroom. He taught us about evolution and the rest of science without injecting his personal beliefs into the curriculum. If he ever felt that evolution was a sham, he certainly didn't feel the need to tell his students.

A science teacher should teach science; a system of gathering knowledge using the scientific method, using reproducible, falsifiable experimentation. If something does not fit into that category, then it shouldn't be supported in a science classroom. Allowing teachers to teach whatever they want because they simply disagree with the curriculum is a slippery slope.

2 comments:

Aleta said...

My name is Aleta. Charles Apinis was my JH Science Teacher too (1974-1975). I learned more about life from that man in one year than I did from anyone else my entire childhood. I stayed in touch with him until his untimely death even though I was in Alaska most of those years. I came back to see him in his classroom whenever I was in New England. I still think about him very often and he will forever be part of my life.

Amanda said...

Thank you, Aleta! It's so nice to hear from another Ashfordian. Anyone who knew Mr. Apinis knew that he was a very special, amazingly kind and generous person. I feel very similarly about my childhood as you do: I learned much of what I did because of Mr. Apinis. He's one of the few people I still think about regularly.