Religion forces science teacher to quit

2012-03-06 15:15
Cape Town - A science teacher at an upmarket Cape Town school has found herself at odds with senior staff over a desire to teach evolution in science lessons.

"I explicitly put teaching natural selection on the syllabus for the year; I made a three week slot; I came with practical experiments they could do. What I discovered was, I was the only person teaching natural selection," said a science teacher at a Cape Town high school who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity.

The source said that the teachers in the school's science department were mainly Christian and that staff issued a reprimand over teaching the scientific concept.

"We're talking about the head of biology, we're talking about the longest standing member [of staff] who's been there for more than 25 years and we're talking about the most recent member who was trained in a Biology area.

"What he actively does in class is he poo poos the idea [of evolution], he makes kids laugh at the idea of the age of the Earth as proposed by scientists currently. He poo poos the fossil record, he gives what he believes is counter evidence to carbon dating," the teacher said.

Creationism


The theory of natural selection by evolution is accepted by science as the method by which species evolved to the ecosystem on the planet today, however, evangelical religious groups in the US have lobbied that creationism is should also be taught as a competing theory in science lessons.

"Sometimes the way science is reported and transmitted to the public may cause confusion. Another thing to bear in mind is that perhaps the world isn't that simple.

"Sometimes the world is very complicated it is difficult to communicate science to the public and the result is that some people have a negative view of science and then science communicators then bend over backward to try and accommodate people while they on the other hand, they know it is E=mc², it's not E=mc² plus baby Jesus," psychohistorian Auke Slotegraaf told News24.

For the teacher, she worried that the lack of competent science education hampers the learning of school students.

"I met a Muslim Biology teacher who refused to teach evolution and I met a Christian Geography teacher who refused to teach plate tectonics.

"They [the children] have no understanding of evolution by natural selection," said the teacher.

Parents who had been made aware of the teacher's lesson plans had apparently also told their children to dismiss the teacher's lessons.

"One kid told me that his dad had already told him that he was to ignore everything that I said about evolution because it was a load of nonsense. The parents are preparing them to reject it."

Conservative attitudes have forced many in science into being on the defensive and the source said that since leaving the school, the teacher's lot has not improved.

"So now I find myself out of the frying pan into the fire."


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