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Away From Home

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Critical Thinking is a Very Good Thing

From CBS News:

Nearly 30 years of teaching evolution in Kansas has taught Brad Williamson to expect resistance, but even this veteran of the trenches now has his work cut out for him when students raise their hands.

That's because critics of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection are equipping families with books, DVDs, and a list of "10 questions to ask your biology teacher."

The intent is to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of students as to the veracity of Darwin's theory of evolution.

[ . . . ]

"The argument was always in the past the monkey-ancestor deal," says Mr. Williamson, who teaches at Olathe East High School. "Today there are many more arguments that kids bring to class, a whole fleet of arguments, and they're all drawn out of the efforts by different groups, like the intelligent design [proponents]."

It creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom, Williamson says - one that he doesn't like. "I don't want to ever be in a confrontational mode with those kids ... I find it disheartening as a teacher."

I think this is fantastic, and not because high schoolers are standing up for creationism. I think it's fantastic that they're asking the all-important "Why?" question, even if they're not creating the questions themselves.

I also find this teacher's quote to be utterly repulsive. He's upset and disheartened because he's being questioned? Too bad. If you want an environment where kids are expected to absorb your every word as truth and just parrot it back to you, then go teach elementary school. By the time kids reach high school, they are capable of asking why things are the way they are. And if they're not going to be expected to ask it, then they should at least be encouraged and supported when they do.

Think about this, Mr. Williamson -- the entire field of science would not exist if people hadn't started asking "Why?"


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