Thursday, November 01, 2007

Teaching of evolution: The South Africa version

Evolution will be taught in schools in South Africa from next year. Wait a minute...it isn't being taught these days?? Here is an article that predicts a science & religion clash over this in South Africa:
A clash between secular and religious conscience could unfold in South Africa’s education system -- and different interest groups are set to line up against one another.

The teaching of evolution to grade 12 learners from next year might trigger an uproar among South African parents, teachers and religious sectors.
Come on...how many times will we have to say that this is not an inevitable clash. But here it is:
Josef de Beer, a lecturer in the faculty of education at the University of Johannesburg, said teachers of evolution might have religious concerns. “My experience in teaching evolution in a foundation-year programme at the University of Pretoria is that many students find evolution problematic because of their religious beliefs.”
And a more concrete example:
At a recent conference on teacher training, a teacher said: “I am disappointed about the fact that evolution attacks God’s creation. It also mixes Genesis with idol worshippers of Babylon, which were never there when God created planet Earth.”

Another said he thought the topic should be voluntary because he didn’t think it suitable for people who believe in God. “I am totally against evolution,” another teacher said.
And if this isn't enough, you can add the issue of race in there too:
Matters came to a head after snippets of a video, Tiny Humans: Finding Hobbits in Flores, was shown. The video traces the origin of tiny prehistoric humans somewhere on an Indonesian island. They are depicted as short and dark-skinned people. This offended some black teachers. They said that evolution was a racist theory. It “terribly undermines black people, everything bad gets a black colour. It means blacks were apes,” they said.
Ok...lets put South Africa also on the evolution-controversy watch-list.

3 comments:

Marina said...

My friend, Maryalice, spent her junior year in South Africa and returned there for her Master's. From her stories, it seems that SA has a weird mix of very progressive actions (hello, gay marriage) and hugely religious people.

Although I'm not sure why they're so worried about teaching evolution if they aren't going to do it until grade 12... At that point, they've been pretty thoroughly indoctrinated with whatever prevailing religious belief, and I wonder how likely the students are to actually think about it.

Also, wtf are they teaching these kids for 12 years without mentioning evolution? I realize that I spend a lot more time thinking about biology than most people do, but I definitely can't picture trying to teach science without teaching evolution. What do you do when one of your students asks about bird flu? Or are they not even being taught about germ theory?

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