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13 Percent of Biology Teachers Teach Creationism

13 Percent of Biology Teachers Teach Creationism

In the wake of a Gallup poll which showed that 40% of Americans still believed in Creationism, this statistic may not be so surprising, although it’s certainly disturbing.  According to a recent study, a majority of high school biology teachers don’t take an active stance on evolution, and 13 percent of teachers actually advocate for creationism in the classroom.  Only 30 percent of biology teachers took a solidly pro-evolutionary stance, a trend that may emerge from teachers’ desire to avoid conflict.

The data was collected from nearly 1,000 participants in a national survey of biology teachers, which asked them to describe what they taught in the classroom and how long they spent on each subject.  While only 28% of teachers followed the recommendations on teaching evolution, a shocking number of teachers admitted to explicitly advocating “creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.”

“The survey left space for [the teachers] to share their experiences. That’s where we picked up a lot of a sense about how they play to the test and tell students they can figure it out for themselves,” Michael Berkman, a study co-author, explained. “Our general sense is they lack the knowledge and confidence to go in there and teach evolution, which makes them risk-averse.”

Many teachers offered both evolution and creationism as equally valid options, encouraging students to make up their own minds.  Some blamed the way that science teachers are themselves taught, suggesting that if they had weak backgrounds in evolution, they would not be comfortable presenting such a controversial theory as fact.  Others suggested that school administrations may not fully support teachers’ opinions in the face of angry parents.

“The implications for us are very concerning, that there are teachers who are not teaching science, who are not teaching some of the core tenants of science,” said Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association.  He was one of those who cited the need for better education for science teachers.  “We haven’t done a good enough job with making people understand what is science and what isn’t,” he said. “Science doesn’t deal with the human condition, like why we were here. That’s fine to be covering those, but not in the science classroom.”

It’s true that science teachers need to be equipped to answer the tough metaphysical questions that accompany evolution, and they’re probably not receiving enough education or support in the face of strong parental opposition.  But it also needs to be made clear to them, somehow, that creationism, as a tenet of Christian theology, does not have a place in a secular American public school classroom.

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336 comments

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8:23PM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

I learned my first lesson about evolution in sunday school class at the Riverside Church in the 1950s. I have been a confirmed evolutionist and atheist ever since.

3:28PM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

That 13% of biology teachers push creationism is simply PATHETIC!

l agree with Craig: "Teaching Creationism in public school class is dishonest and a sin of deception if you believe in God. It is also against the Constitution and just because a teacher can get away with it does not mean it is OK, moral, ethical or legal. Do what's right teachers of America. God wants you to be honest and do the job you are paid to do with integrity."


3:07PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Charles T: The cell came from the same stuff everything else did, it's made up of the basic elements, just like every part of your body. Basically elemental molecules combined to make amino acids, amino acids combined to form proteins, proteins combined to form single-celled organisms, single-celled organisms combined to form multicellular organisms.

12:03AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Not questioning the need for spirituality, I still think religion should be placed in literature/history or philosophy departements when it comes to education. Considering all other educational subjects have adapted to changing times with new values and discoveries justifying modification to the teachings as they arise, religions have arrogantly stuck with teachings that now have the very real potential of becoming dangerous with a global population spreading like a wildfire using every imaginable ressource on its path. This message together with the frenzy for superfluous products fueled by the media and their corporate veins should be seriously challenged as responsible for a LARGE part of todays LARGE problems. The Reproduce/Consume scheme isn´t going to work much longer.

5:35PM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

Sooooo geniuses, what did the cell evolve from?

11:01AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

A "favorite": "I believe in creationism... I believe man created gods"!

A majority in American religion does NOT mean it's "right"...China has a majority religion too... and when China takes over the United States, Christianity is in big, big trouble!

8:55PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

I'm curious.........how do these discussions get RESSURRECTED after two months of no activity? Do people just stumble on them? I had this "flagged" to track comments, so the latest ones came into my Care.2's IN BOX.

Olivia, what's WRONG with teaching creationism in public schools is just that they ARE "public" schools, which by law should be kept separate from theology/religion. If one wants their kid to learn religious theology, send them to church or a secular school. Public schools are supported with taxpayers money. I wouldn't want my kids taught creationism on my dollars, since first of all, there is nothing to back it up.......it's just that....theory.

8:46PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

What is wrong with teaching about creationism in school, just an alternate idea, not even forcing the idea on students, simply mentioning the two ideas together. If one only mentions evolution, that is like forcing that idea on students without giving them a chance to hear both sides! Shouldn't students be able to decide for themselves, hearing the evidence for both cases and then choosing?

5:37PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

Creationism doesn't belong in science. Creationism goes with religion and Evolution goes with science.

1:59PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

It's ridicoluous for me. Shouldn't they teach these kids science?

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