Larry Flammer dies

12.21.2017

Larry FlammerLarry Flammer, a master biology teacher, died on December 13, 2017, at the age of 83, according to e-mail from his family. He was famous in the community of biology educators for his devotion to evolution education. He was largely responsible for the creation and administration of the website of the Evolution and Nature of Science Institutes, which were founded (with NCSE's encouragement) "to improve the teaching of evolution in high school biology courses by encouraging teachers to teach evolutionary thinking in the context of a more complete understanding of modern scientific thinking."

Flammer sketched the approach to teaching evolution together with the nature of science that he favored in "The Evolution Solution: Teaching Evolution Without Conflict," published (PDF) in The American Biology Teacher in 2006. "To paraphrase a well-known quote," he wrote there, "biology makes a whole lot more sense when evolution is used to tie it all together. As it turns out, both evolution and the nature of science combined make excellent themes around which to build a coherent and effective biology course, where everything makes more sense, and it's all much easier to understand." With regard to creationist objections from students, he advised, "religious beliefs are not appropriate topics to defend or discuss in a science class ... If you have provided a thorough introduction to the nature of science in your opening unit, it's not likely that you will be seriously challenged on evolution in class."

Flammer was born in Los Angeles on March 28, 1934. He graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.A. in zoology in 1956 and from the University of Washington with a M.S. in zoology in 1962. He spent most of his career teaching biology at Del Mar High School in the Campbell Union High School District in the San Jose, California, area. He was extraordinarily active in mentoring fellow teachers, both in person and on-line as well as by developing lessons for the Institute of Human Origins (on NCSE's behalf), the 2001 Evolution series, and Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, and through his book Science Surprises (2014).