I’m feeling mighty confused by an article that recently appeared in Hernando Today (a Tampa Tribune paper): Educators: Bill that criticizes evolution won’t hurt students. Read the following excerpt and ponder what is being stated for a moment:
Dr. Stacey Thomson, chairwoman of the science department at Pasco-Hernando Community College, said adding evolutionary criticism, Intelligent Design or other non-evolution theories wouldn’t affect students’ performance.
By the time they reach post-secondary education and biology classes, she said many start from scratch learning the basics in 101 classes.
“These classes are very broad-based and whatever education they get in high school is not going to change their success or lack thereof,” Thomson said. “The problem we have is when students come from high school with no critical thinking skills, no math skills or no ethics. So if they can get students to start making decisions and use critical thinking skills, regardless of the focus, then all of that is probably a plus.”
Here is how I read it: nothing a student learns in high school will have any effect on what will be learned in college. The students are just going to start over again with the basics in 101 courses anyway. So, teach whatever you want in high school, to include unscientific, religious materials in science classes because it will foster critical thinking skills, hopefully.
Dr. Thomson, please tell me that is not what you intended. I understand your frustration with a possible lack of critical thinking skills in some new college students. But the solution isn’t to throw a bunch of unscientific garbage into the curriculum and let students debate it. I’m willing to bet I can find several college professors who will say that what students learn in high school does effect learning in college. I’ve been told by professors that they had to spend precious time un-teaching misconceptions and incorrect information. And there is a very real problem with students being forced to take remedial courses before they can even tackle the 101 material. Allowing intelligent design and bogus “critical analysis” will only compound these problems.
Also quoted in the story is Jeff Youngman, curriculum supervisor for Hernando County School District. His comments suggest that creationism isn’t part of the curriculum and shouldn’t be. Sometimes students might bring the topic up: “But science classes aren’t discussions on people’s opinions on things. It’s more a presentation of what theory is and what we know.” Youngman’s quotes don’t fit into the story’s headline or its lead paragraph that states: “Local education experts say a proposed bill that would require science teachers to critique evolution — and include some religious aspects — would do little to harm students’ learning of the topic or affect their performance in higher education.” Dr. Thomson is saying that, but Youngman clearly isn’t. Perhaps the reporter, Jeff Schmucker, didn’t quite understand the topic he was writing about; but even with that possibility in mind, his two sources are clearly not in agreement as his introduction would have readers believe.
Furthermore, the reporter says that Sen. Wise was interviewed recently on a Tampa radio station. I’m not aware of any such interview happening recently on radio. He talked to one newspaper reporter, and that’s the only interview he’s given on this subject this year I’m aware of. A Tampa radio interview did happen back in early 2009 concerning the bill he filed back then. It appears to me that the reporter rushed through the writing of this story.
In other words, this is a confusing story inside and out.