We asked applicants for the NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship to explain, in 500 words, how they’ve addressed challenges to the teaching of evolution, climate change, and related issues. Here is part of scholarship winner Scott Hatfield’s explanation of his strategies for overcoming resistance to evolution in his Fresno, California, high school.
We asked applicants for the NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship to explain, in 500 words, what lessons or knowledge they expected to gain from rafting the Grand Canyon, to enrich their students’, colleagues’, and neighbors’ understanding of evolution, deep time, climate change, and the natural world. Here is part of scholarship winner Scott Hatfield’s explanation of what he hopes to bring back from the Grand Canyon to his Fresno, California, high school.
This year, for the first time, NCSE will be providing all-expenses-paid seats on our annual Grand Canyon raft trip to two teachers. We had 140 applications, which my colleagues and I carefully sorted and sifted through before we selected Scott Hatfield and Alyson Miller as the winners. They impressed us with not only their exceptional work in the classroom, but also their deep commitment to protecting the place of evolution and climate change in all classrooms.
Last week I made a case that origins-of-life research doesn’t usually fall under the evolution umbrella. I offered my analogy that the first spark of life was a bit like a baton hand-off from chemical evolution to biological evolution. Today, I’ll get into some aspects of the topic that tend to evoke the most, well, heated and let’s say spirited discussion.
Do I tire of skimming through creationist books from the Scopes era? I do not. And to prove it, I’ve been perusing “After Its Kind”: The First and Last Word on Evolution (1927), by Byron C. Nelson. According to his grandson Paul Nelson, who edited a reprint volume of his writings in a series entitled Creationism in Twentieth Century America, Nelson was born in 1893 and attended George Washington University and the University of Wisconsin before serving in the Army (after having attempted to evade the draft) during the First World War. After the war, he trained as a minister, receiving a B.D. from the Luther Theological Seminary in 1922 and a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1926. “After Its Kind” was based on his Th.M. thesis; his grandson describes it as “a critique of theories of biological evolution and a defense of the biblical account of creation.”
Could we combat science denial by getting scientists to play Rock Band with non-scientists? Well, that might just be crazy enough to work.
A little background: I commute each day by bicycle and train, and there’s not quite enough time on the train to get any work done. For a while I listened to books on tape, but lately I’ve discovered podcasts. (“Hi Ann, the 21st century welcomes you!”)
One of my most memorable interactions when I first started at NCSE was a conversation I had at an educator conference with a chemistry teacher. I was talking to him about teaching climate change, and he turned to me and said, with a straight face, “I don’t teach climate change, because it has nothing to do with chemistry.” I was so dumbfounded by his comment that I could hardly respond.
I’m going to admit that I’ve been procrastinating on fulfilling this reader request for a while now. As any of you who are writers can attest, the hardest things to write about are those that you know a lot about and those that you know very little about. The sweet spot is somewhere in between, where you don’t have to worry about overwhelming your audience with details and yet you know enough to make things interesting. Unfortunately, this topic is both something I know too much about and something I know too little about. Strange, I know, but it’s true. Still, James Colbert requested this topic; it’s certainly right up this blog’s alley; and, well, I aim to please. So here we go.
Misconception: Evolution is a theory about the origins of life.