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First Newsletter issued 12/4/2008;
Creationism/Intelligent Design and Science Classes
What was once a rather esoteric staff room discussion topic has once again been brought to the fore by recent news headlines;
As a teacher, lecturer or education professional then you will want to be sure that this issue does not turn into a headache, an argument or a full grown complaint in your school, college, university or education authority. As a journalist you need a ready source of information which you can rely on and confirm easily.
What you need to know;
- What is the National Curriculum position on questions about creationism, intelligent design and religion in science classes?
- What can and should a teacher or lecturer do when asked about these topics?
- Where can I go for help and advice if a specific question or problem arises?
. . . and you need to know this quickly and simply so that you can concentrate on the day job.
Today sees the beginning of a communication campaign by the British Centre for Science Education which is designed to do all these things for you.
We aim to;
- Give you the facts quickly and simply.
- Give you the assistance and support you need e.g. common questions about these topics and suggested answers.
Everything we do is in strict accordance with the National Curriculum and Teachers Guidelines.
This email will give you a brief introduction to the BCSE, an easy to read summary of the National Curriculum position and Teachers Guidelines, details of the most recent creationist attempts to get their material into science classrooms, how to spot it, how to stop it, and some suggested links for further reading.
An Introduction to the British Centre for Science Education
Quick Facts - What is the BCSE?
- The BCSE is a single issue pro-science pressure group dedicated solely to keeping creationism and intelligent design out of the science classrooms in publicly-funded schools in the United Kingdom.
- The BCSE is a co-operative, voluntary organisation comprising of scientists, educators and members of the general public. Our members are aware of and appreciate the key issues involved in our education system. We have a public forum where everyone can explore the key issues involved.
- BCSE membership is open to all who support our aims irrespective of religious or political affiliations and consists of professional and managerial people from all walks of life.
Keep yourself up to date
The BCSE will be sending out occasional email updates providing resources and advice for teachers & lecturers, news updates and details of the latest tactics and materials being employed by Creationists. This material will be designed to ensure that you will be fully prepared for the issues that may increasingly arise in science lessons.
If you know of anyone else who would benefit from these email updates please ask them to email us at subscribe at bcseweb dot org dot uk and we will add them to our distribution list. If you do not wish to receive any further updates from us then please send a blank email to unsubscribe at bcseweb dot org dot uk .
An Invitation to join us
We currently have over 90 members from many walks of life and with a wide range of religious views. Our comprehensive web site gets more than 3,000 unique hits per month.
- If you want to know more about us click here; HomePage
- To see our comprehensive web site on the issue of creationism in the UK education system click here;Creationism
- If you wish to join or support our pro-science education movement, please click here; JoiningTheBCSE
A Brief Guide to the National Curriculum and Teachers Guidelines
These are the comments from teacher net http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=11890;
There has been much debate recently about the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in the science curriculum. The 'Truth in Science' pack, which had been sent to all secondary schools, also generated media interest.
Intelligent Design is a creationist belief that suggests that the biological complexity of human beings is evidence for presence of a God or an 'intelligent designer'. It is sometimes erroneously advanced as scientific theory but has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community.
Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the National Curriculum for science, but there is scope for schools to discuss creationism as part of Religious Education - a component of the basic school curriculum - in developing pupils' knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other religions. This guidance is designed to clarify the place of these concepts within the National Curriculum.
The new national curriculum guidelines can be seen here http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=spectrum&ProductId=DCSF-00783-2007.
Here are a few extracts;
The use of the word ‘theory’ can mislead those not familiar with science as a subject discipline because it is different from the everyday meaning of being little more than a ‘hunch’. In science the meaning is much less tentative and indicates that there is a substantial amount of supporting evidence, underpinned by principles and explanations accepted by the international scientific community. However, it also signals that all scientific knowledge is considered to be provisional as it can be overturned by new evidence if this is validated and accepted by the scientific community.
Creationism and intelligent design are sometimes claimed to be scientific theories. This is not the case as they have no underpinning scientific principles, or explanations, and are not accepted by the science community as a whole. Creationism and intelligent design therefore do not form part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study.
Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science. However, there is a real difference between teaching ‘x’ and teaching about ‘x’. Any questions about creationism and intelligent design which arise in science lessons, for example as a result of media coverage, could provide the opportunity to explain or explore why they are not considered to be scientific theories and, in the right context, why evolution is considered to be a scientific theory.
Addressing students’ questions about creationism or intelligent design
Science teachers can respond positively and educationally to questions and comments about creationism or intelligent design by questioning, using prompts such as ‘What makes a theory scientific?’, and by promoting knowledge and understanding of the scientific consensus around the theories of evolution and the Big Bang.
Have you seen this material?
These are the packs sent out by the creationist group "Truth in Science". The materials are designed to hide their creationist content in scientific sounding language and high production values. These packs were sent to every high school and college in the UK (Creationists are well funded) with a letter claiming that they are suitable for use in science classes in accordance with the National Curriculum - they are not.
Truth In Science, which sent out the packs, was formed after an advert in the Evangelical Times included this call to arms;
It is a concern to many when science is wrongly taught in our schools, colleges and universities. In particular, macroevolution is taught as though it were a proven and unchallengeable fact. For our children and grandchildren, God is thus robbed of His glory. Young people are encouraged into a way of thinking that leads to atheism, hedonism, despair and moral bankruptcy. Belief in a Creator is often ridiculed and anyone advocating such a view is portrayed as either foolish or naïve.
TIS seeks to encourage scientists to present the truth fairly and to expose as charlatans those who deliberately mislead. Our aim is to compliment the work of existing Creation groups by targeting education in particular.
These quotes contradict their claim on their web site to be a "an organisation promoting good science education in the UK".
For more details on "Truth in Science" click here http://bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScience.
These materials are not suitable for use in science classes according to the national curriculum and teachers guidelines.