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Teaching Evolution


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Joined: May 05, 2008
Posts: 424
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Posted Nov 09, 2009 at 2:08:00 PM
Subject: Teaching Evolution

In American schools evolution is one of the least understood subjects around. Or it tends to be just genrally misunderstood. Far too often deliberately. Often even by science teachers. Some of whom apparently don't grasp basic physics.

I was inspired by a friend a biologist to write this post. He sent his 5th grade daughter to school yesterday with a question to ask her science teacher. He thought there would be some great discussion. Well she came home puzzled and confused. You see, she asked her question and she got an answer that no rational scientist would give to the question she asked. She asked, "Are we made from star dust?" Her teacher emphatically told her no. Which is a horrifying mistake because what do you all think atoms are? And if we are made of atoms then we are made of star dust. So as an archaeologist sick of having to explain evolution to the ignorant, i am making this post to all you teachers to hopefully give you some hints so you don't make an equally bone headed error while teaching evolution.

Evolution is called a theory but it is in no way a theory in terms of the laymen use of the word theory. Evolution is a fact. Supported by truckloads of physical evidence. Presenting it then as one theory is not an option. Because no other laymen's theory can produce 1 iota of physical evidence in support of itself.

In science, a theory, is a law. it is how we describe a law or a fact. We make up a theory to explain it. Therefore it doesn't mean theory in the same way as it is meant when used by someone discussing something hypothetical. There is nothing hypothetical about evolution and it must never be taught as anything other than the fact it is. I urge you to ignore the word theory all together as it confuses the issue. Call it a fact instead.

Next problemn i frequently have when i have discussions about evolution with the ignorant. They tell me we developed from apes or chimps. Teaching them that is dishonest and fraudulent and completely inaccurate. Yes we developed from something that is classified in the ape family. But to show them pictures of a modern ape and to say that we developed from that which is what they did when i was in school, is passing out entirely innacurate information. When you teach about this you should be very clear we are related quite closely to chimps and apes the ones we know today, through a common ancestor. We are not directly descended from them. An example would be to tell them we are related like cousins. For example student X has a cousin who's name is Y. Y's mother and X's father are sister and brother both of them decended from grandma and grandpa W. Please, teach the accurate information i do detest having to correct the common misinformation taught in our schools related to this subject.

Next, show them a tree with many branches. Help them to understand human development as a tree rather than a linear line through time. Because it simply wasn't that simple.

The fossil record supports one of 2 current theories. The first one is called the multi regional hypothesis. This first one is the one NOT supported by the fossil record. This would include information such as humans evolved in different places at roughly the same time from what ever variety of prehuman species was there at the time. Example and common mistake, Humans developing from neanderthals. It never happened. Please don't encourage students to think that it did. As the fossil record clearly shows us, homo sapien sapiens developed in africa and left in small groups at first of only several hundred people at a time migrating outwards and eventually reaching europe.That is the fact of the matter. There is only one branch of our family so to speak that developed outside of africa. That would be Neanderthal, which seems to have developed in europe which is NOT directly linked to us in a direct linear fashion.

Next... No modern human actually developed from homo erectus. Please stop teaching our students that we did. Homo erectus, developed into something we call heidelbergensis. It was heideklbergensis which developed into sapien sapiens, in africa.

The best thing you can do is to use a tree rather than a linear line to teach students about evolution. If you have any questions on ways to aproach it or on the facts related to it, weather you teach ld students or mainstream students do not hesitate to ask because i would rather not have to fix your errors later i think it would be best if you taught it accurately the first time round.

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