Science lessons?

I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief. No, I can’t make the news item disappear. It’s still there but it still doesn’t make any sense. The Guardian reported David Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society (let me just put that in bold, director of education at the Royal Society)

Creationism and intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons, according to a leading expert in science education.

Reiss’s argument is that teaching real science puts off the supposed 1 in 10 kids from religious homes who have been taught creationism. I don’t even believe the spurious “one in ten” homes bit, but let’s accept it as true.

In that case, how urgently do schools need to teach real science? It would be an educational emergency. The reasonable response to such a horrific statistic would be to expand science teaching and do it right. Not to give up the unequal struggle to challenge ignorance.

Why stop at science if you accept the principle that “school subjects that conflict with idiots’ values should be changed to fit those values”? English lessons can be tough for kids who haven’t got any books at home. Why not just let them uncritically watch daytime TV shows, instead? No, that wouldn’t happen, because there are no vocal US-funded “pro-soap” groups demanding daytime TV instead of literature and claiming the spurious authority of “faith.” Unlike the case with evolutionary biology.

This Reiss guy is in the wrong job. He’s the Royal Society’s director of education and he doesn’t even grasp the role of the Royal Society or understand what science education is.

Reiss agreed that creationism and intelligent design are not scientific theories, but he said that did not automatically exclude them from science lessons. “Just because something lacks scientific support doesn’t seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from the science lesson …”

It seems like a good enough reason to me. “Science lesson.” The clue’s in the name. (I think it means education about science, although I may be mistaken.)

If science lessons are to become a free-for-all, there are plenty of more engaging alternatives apart from the “magic man did it” claim in one particular old book. What about teaching numerology in the mathematics class? And how does physics get off so lightly when faith comes into the lab? The physics of angelic visitations has been heinously overlooked.

Blimey, my school geography teacher never even bothered teaching us the controversy between dull soulless-sciencey people who think the earth is a sphere and the view common at Unseen University that the world is a disk carried through space on the back of a turtle and giant elephants. The holy books of the Diskworld canon probably outsell the Bible. (They certainly get read more, with more attention.) So, how come this debate isn’t taught in science lessons?

New national curriculum additions to satisfy people (like me) who find real science too boring:

  • Metaphysical chemistry
  • Mythamatics
  • Organic Alchemy
  • Geomancy
  • Astrology
  • Long divination
  • Theoretical Psychics
  • The dark side of the Force

(I just realised that Harry Potter got there before me. What a pity that creationists don’t like Harry Potter, given that the Hogwarts curriculum would fill the educational bill so well for them)

ID advocates never sleep

According to Matthew Taylor in today’s Guardian:

State schools could teach the theory of intelligent design in science lessons, the Church of England’s new head of education has suggested.

Well, where do you start on this?

In my limited understanding of Intelligent Design, it is not “science”. It cannot be considered a science using any definition that I can recognise. “That’s really complex, so someone must have planned it” doesn’t seem wildly scientific to me.

There was brilliant post on Pharyngula that pointed out that astrology is much more scientific than ID. At least you can falsify astrological predictions. (It always gladdens my heart when “real” scientists show knowledge of epistemology.)

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