Saturday, October 18, 2008

#1 in Google???

I was looking for something, and of course did a Google search. My search query was "nsta presentation." I was a little discombobulated when one of my own blog posts got returned by Google as top on the search list. And oddly, it was one of my obscure blog posts too, the one from March 28, 2007, when I was simply letting people know when my NSTA presentations were.

Makes me wonder how Google does its magic???

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A little housekeeping

If you're following my blogs on the book I'm writing, you'll see that I've changed the label on those posts from "Hearts&Minds" to "UNBelieve". I've been looking for a new way to refer to my work on this because I want to honor David Jackson's leadership on the original "Hearts & Minds" article by leaving that phrase to his use. I haven't really found a key word for my focus, though, until UNBelieve just came into focus. I'll probably tweak that term some in the weeks and months ahead, but it seems to represent well what I'm trying to do.

Friday, October 03, 2008

UNBelieve Reflections

I've been pondering the session I lead on teaching evolution this week at ASTA. In writing this book, I find that I have to think a lot about my message, both what it is and how I can communicate it effectively. Live presentations are good opportunities to test out that message.

One thing that I blatantly tried to do this time was to push forward my central message about students understanding, but not believing, evolution. I think I've mentioned earlier here how in writing that message has become my focus. The ASTA session seemed to work well with consistently bringing everything back to this message and making it the chief take-away for my participants. Science teachers must teach evolution, and they should teach it in a way that all students, even religious students, understand evolution. They should not teach evolution, however, with a goal of getting religious students to believe that evolution really happened.

Am I on thin ice here? Can students really understand evolution without believing it? I'm thinking they can. For some religious students, I would think that it's major progress if they simply had a basic knowledge of what evolution is and a sense that clear scientific evidence exists for it working around them and in the history of the earth. I'd be OK even if they didn't believe in evolution itself or even believe in the evidence that they saw. I also know that students from some religions, such as Christian fundamentalism, would encounter significant difficulties learning about evolution at even that basic level. 

Believing that evolution occurred at any level beyond natural selection is going to be a major stretch for many religious students. They've been taught to believe in creation, and they just will not believe that life evolved. They won't believe that it evolved by itself, because of their belief in supernatural creation, but I'm beginning to see that they won't even believe that evolution was the mechanism of special creation (i.e., that God created by evolution). Their faith tells differently, and believing the scientific worldview in this instance is going to be pretty much impossible for them.

So, we're back to understanding evolution, but not believing it occurred, as the goal of evolution education. And, I'm OK with that goal. I don't think it's undercutting science education because it at least lets students enter into the study of evolution at some level without creating a science classroom where they feel like they can't learn about evolution at all. As the teacher blatantly says, "I don't expect you to believe this," the students know that their faith isn't threatened. I'm hoping that having that security gives them the freedom to look more at the evidence for evolution and the way the theory explains the evidence.

Please let me know any thoughts you have on that message, especially holes that you see in it. More and more I'm focusing on "Understanding Not Believing." So, I guess I'm pitching the idea that we need to U.N.Believe (un-believe) the evolution curriculum.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

ASTA Evolution Follow-Up

Thanks to all of you who attended the session on teaching evolution to religious students. I hope the message of guiding theistic students to understand, but not believe, evolution was helpful to you. 

The handout I promised is linked to the title of this post. Click the title and it will take you to my public website, where you'll see the handout that you can download. If you're a PC user, please see the note there about possible needing to right-click the file to get it to download.

Please let me know any questions or comments you have about the session. You can click on the word "comments" below to reply back here. Also, if you want to see previous posts here about teaching evolution, you can click on the word "heartsNminds" under the Labels section to the left of this post, and the site will show you only blog posts related to the topic.

ASTA Inquiry Follow-Up

Thanks to all of you who attended Inquiry: What & Why. I look forward to hearing from you any questions or comments you have on the session. To reply, just click on the word "comments" directly below.