Grantsburg, Wisconsin policy regarding origins science:
As explained by Dr. Joni Burgin, Superintendent, Grantsburg schools.
(private communication to me, Nov 12, 2004)
We teach evolution. It is a requirement on the Wisconsin State standards. So teachers must use their valuable class time to meet state achievement scores. We take state achievement scores very seriously.
The School Board wants critical scientific analysis of current theories. Like the higher ed science classes in local universities, our students can also grapple with the scientific data and supporting/or non-supporting scientific theories.
Our students will be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including theory of evolution. Emphasis is on critical thought and analysis of current research in the scientific field. Students will explore new scientific data that is emerging. They will study scientists' understandings of the natural world and how it changes and evolves as new scientific studies are conducted. Our students will describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. Students will also describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of these indicators do not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.) As new scientific data emerge, scientists' understandings of the natural world may become enhanced, modified or even changed all together. Using library and Internet sources, groups of students will conduct background research for one of the aspects of evolution in preparation for a critical analysis discussion. Students also will listen to, and take notes on, their classmates' critical analyses of evolution theory.
Describe one piece of evidence used to challenge evolution and explain why it is important.
Compare and contrast the supporting and challenging information regarding the aspect of evolution studied.
Evaluate the scientific data supporting and challenging areas of evolution in light of the scientific method. In other words, is the data that is used to support or challenge evolution consistent or inconsistent with the scientific method? Are there any limitations? (NOTE: steps of scientific method: Observation, hypothesis, test, retest and conclusion.)
We feel that if our high school students are able to discuss the scientific arguments that are out there on origins-the better they will understand science. To fully understand evolution - you need to understand science (grapple with the data- read the research - understand the underlying concepts). That is all we want.... To allow the students to wrestle with the data, understand the science behind the data and draw their own conclusions. That will make them better scientists! This approach is the constructivist approach to learning and application of critical thinking skills. These are learning techniques that allow students to add their own "meaning" to the study. They learn more science, and they learn it at a deeper level. They retain the learning longer.