Monday, 1 October 2007

More reaction to new teacher guidelines

From the Telegraph;

Creationism can be a topic in class

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor

Teachers have been given permission to discuss the controversial theory of creationism in science lessons.

Have your say: Is it right to teach creationism in schools?

Teachers will be expected to contrast creationism with Darwin's theory of evolution
Pupils should be able to ask questions about the theory provided teachers emphasise it has "no underpinning scientific principles", new Government guidance says.

If the subject is raised teachers will be expected to contrast the strict Biblical belief that the Earth was created by God in six days between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Teachers are told to respond "positively and educationally" to such questions and be "respectful of students' views, religious or otherwise".

But the document – drawn up to clarify the rules after Christian academics challenged the teaching of Darwinism in GCSE biology – makes it clear that such beliefs are not "scientifically testable" and are not valid scientific theories.

It is hoped the guidance will help avoid the situation in the United States where some schools – under pressure from the religious Right – have compelled science teachers to introduce lessons in intelligent design, a creationist off-shoot.

The guidance says schools must teach the broad outlines of evolutionary theory to pupils aged five to 14, and focus clearly on the "nature of, and evidence for, evolution" at GCSE and A-level.

Questions about creationism should provide an "opportunity to explain or explore why they are not considered to be scientific theories".

From the Mail;

Christian campaigners force new guidelines over creationism

Ministers have been forced to issue guidelines on how to teach Creationism in science classes after pressure from Christian campaigners.

Teachers are allowed to answer questions on the subject but must make clear it has 'no underpinning scientific principles', new government advice states.

The move is in response to a campaign by Christian group 'Truth in Science' which last summer sent every school DVDs promoting intelligent design (ID), a Creationism offshoot, in a bid to get it taught.

It is also intended to avoid the situation in the United States where teachers under pressure from the religious Right have forced science teachers to begin lessons in ID.

Creationism, the Biblical theory that The Earth was created by God in six days, has been controversial in recent years.

Three City Academies run by Christian car dealer Sir Peter Vardy have been criticised for featuring Creationist theories in lessons.

Pupils taking Biology GCSE with exam board OCR this year became the first students in mainstream education to answer questions on the theory in a science exam.

This prompted The Royal Society to issue an open letter stating Creationism had no place in schools and that pupils should be clear science backs the theory of evolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has in the past said he is not comfortable with it being taught to pupils.

The new guidance says teachers should respond 'positively and educationally' to questions about Creationism and be 'respectful of students' views, religious or otherwise'.

But it also makes clear makes clear such beliefs are not valid scientific theories and not 'scientifically testable'.

Teachers should instill in pupils aged five to 14 the outlines of evolutionary theory and focus on the 'nature and evidence for evolution' at GCSE and A-level.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "The guidelines were issued in response to materials distributed last year on teaching Creationism in schools by religious groups.

"It is the first time there has been guidance on this matter."

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