Teaching evolution evolutionarily

AnnaP's picture

In continuing to explore other folks’ papers for The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories, I stumbled across bee27’s webpaper, which (much like my paper) talks about how Darwin’s model of evolution can apply to education. bee27 writes:

“Freire complements Darwin's ideas of breaking free of the educational mold, suggesting a shifted focus to viewing our children as students, and as participants in their own education, and not merely inactive vessels for other people's knowledge. Through On the Origin of the Species, Darwin's radical and therefore extremely significant ideas are like a call to action for science education.”

After reading this, I started to think about what it would look like to teach evolution evolutionarily. I realized that teaching evolution in and of itself does not necessarily harness Freire’s ideas of pedagogy, because in some ways it is just as easy to treat students as “inactive vessels for other people’s knowledge” with evolution as it is with creationism. My classmates’ frustration with Dennett in small group discussion on Thursday proves this point; nobody wanted to hear what Dennett had to say because his writing was so over-the-top and self-righteous.

I am still in the process of deciding whether The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories is teaching evolution evolutionarily (though I think it is); for now, I am thinking of a unique humanities course I took in high school in which we actually studied scientific and philosophical arguments against evolution. It was great to have a class where I could legitimately explore doubts to a well-supported theory and, through a process of shared inquiry with my classmates, we could all recognize uncertainty without rejecting the best theory that we have so far about how our world has come to be the way it is.



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