The latest debate to go around now is the one between wether or not American children should learn about intelligent design. Intelligent design is a theory that explains basically what evolution explains. The only difference is that evolution says that the vast variety of organism in nature came about through small random mutations and the process of natural selection, both of which occur naturally. Intelligent design on the other hand, says that while evolution may be partially correct , the great variety of organism and the complexity of them can only be explained by some intelligent designer.
Science teachers of course are worried that intelligent design is a baseless theory that is not grounded in fact or observation. They worry that it’s proponents, mostly the religious are trying to introduce religion into schools which clearly violates the separation of church and state. That brings us to the important question…
Why are Americans so worried about intelligent design when they’re 8th graders score well below average in science and maths? Performance of American students on the Third International Science Study (TIMSS) was above the world average at the fourth grade level, below average at the middle school level, and significantly below average at the high school level.(Gordon J. Aubrecht, II) . That’s interesting because the same science teachers that are vehemothly againts the teaching of intelligent design aren’t actually that good. Makes you wonder as to how much intelligence is there in American classrooms.
I’m going to veer off-topic to come to the REAL issue of this blog. I hate TIMMS. The whole idea of these studies is to test the abilities of students in just 2 fields, science and maths. One can’t discount the importance of these fields. A recent article in fortune mentioned only science and engineering undergraduates are a precursor for both tehnological and ECONOMICAL progress. Fortune contends that the only way you can only achieve economic advancement is by coupling it with scientic advancement as well. It may be true, but fails to take into account social advancement.
Being an engineering undergraduate, I think that science is a fantastic subject. However i realize a host of other people don’t get it, the same way I don’t get art they don’t get math. Both are equally important to soceity as a whole. TIMMS neglects this fact, it focuses on just Science and math , when a high school student should be evaluated in many many more aspects. TIMMS ask questions that are fact based, it doesn’t ask students for their opinions or their thoughts it just wants the facts. That’s an idiotic oversight, it doesn’t take into account many more aspects that an good education should encompass. One of the countries that scored exceptionally well on the study was Singapore. This is a country , where on the day of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Longs inagurations some people on the streets didn’t even know who their Prime Minister was. TIMMS bypasses this, in this study the most apathetic of people can score higher than anybody else. A good education SHOULD create a public and social awareness, TIMMS just doesn’t care.
So let’s get back to Intelligent design, while its good to see that Americans take what their children are learning seriously, this is (in essence) a religious or political debate. It’s really the left vs. right all over again. The religious want intelligent design in school, the non-religious don’t. I guess it’s important to note that even if you don’t believe in intelligent design, you want your children to learn about it. You want your children to know what the debate is all about, you want your children to know both sides, whether they learn it at school or from you. Forget the facts, let the scientist decide which is right, what a parent should want is for their children to know the complete story. When you learn about Quantum Physics in school, they teach you how scientist got it wrong, you learn how everybody thought the Sun orbited the earth before Gallieo and Copernicus straighten it out. The more you know about BOTH sides of a story , the more informed you’ll be and that’s the point of education.
Either Intelligent Design is right, or evolution is right, or their both wrong. However, both can’t be right. So let your children learn them both, teach them the scientific( and if it’s important religous) implications. If they know both sides, your children win regardless of anything else. Just like it’s better to teach children that people once thought the earth was flat before we discovered it wasn’t, it allows them to really appreciate the science behind it. So I guess, the more your children know the better off the are, even if what they know isn’t fact. That’s my 2 cents , don’t spend it all in one place.