The World Around Us: A Virtual Museum

1696 words - 7 pages

Context

Creationism and intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom according to 29% of teachers in a poll by Teachers’ TV (2008). While half of those polled considered otherwise, some 89% thought it should be discussed if raised in a science lesson. Such views from the metaphorical ‘chalk face’ no doubt reflect the reality of the classroom but resources geared to facilitate this are sparse indeed.

Nor are such views confined to teachers. In a survey of the UK population some 27% considered that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in science lessons. (Lawes 2009). A recent survey among churchgoers revealed that 61% thought that creationism should be taught as part of science in schools (Village 2011). An even greater percentage believed that it should also feature in Religious Education teaching.

Professor Michael Reiss (2010), a distinguished educationist, estimates that 10 – 15% of people in the UK accept the record of the Bible or Quran on creation and therefore a similar proportion of state school pupils are likely to believe this. In schools with a strong Christian or Muslim ethos the percentage holding such a belief will be greater; in the Christian Schools Trust member schools, for example, it is as high as three-quarters of the teenage pupils (Baker 2009, Table 7.1).

For a number of years there has been a vocal lobby from humanist and other groups opposed to the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in schools (for an excellent summary see Baker 2009, Section 4.6). As a result government guidance was given to teachers in state schools (DCSF, 2007). This supported teaching different beliefs about origins in Religious Education but indicated that creationism and intelligent design were not part of the science curriculum and should not be taught as science. It did not, however, rule out teaching about these issues should they arise in science lessons.

Michael Reiss, one of the authors of the guidance to schools (see Reiss 2010), consistently argues for creationism being dealt with in science classes, leaving teachers free to decide whether to raise it with their students or only if the issue arises. The strength of opposition to this view in the Royal Society led to his resignation as its Director of Education in 2008 (See Baker 2008; 2010). He had this to say recently:

“Creationism is therefore best regarded …. as part of a worldview; part, therefore, of a rich, in part self-referencing, conception of reality that is internally consistent and has very considerable power and force” (Reiss 2011).

Purpose of the website

The World Around Us virtual museum provides a science resource for secondary school teachers and students. It allows them to take the statutory evolutionary curriculum beyond purely materialistic and naturalistic interpretations. Based mainly on recent discoveries published in mainstream science journals, it also provides an...

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