NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/09/04
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A good time for back-to-school reading, with a new issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach as well as sneak peeks at four reviews from forthcoming issues of Reports of the NCSE, all now available on-line.
THE LATEST ISSUE OF EVOLUTION: EDUCATION AND OUTREACH The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new journal aspiring to promote accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now available on-line. The issue, edited by Kristin Jenkins, Education and Outreach Program Specialist at the National Evolution Synthesis Center, focuses on teaching evolution. As Greg Eldredge and Niles Eldredge explain in their editorial, "Teaching can be a difficult proposition under the best of circumstances, and teaching evolution can present its own challenges but can also bring its own very special rewards. The following pages contain articles that explore many aspects of evolution education, including how state education standards impact science in the classroom, how evolution is taught around the world, how people’s education and backgrounds affect their understanding of and ability to teach and learn about evolution, and how methods of teaching evolution impact student success and understanding of evolutionary theory from elementary school to college." There is also a handful of reviews, including a review of Juergen Haffer's Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005 (Springer-Verlag 2007) and a review of Keith Thomson's The Young Charles Darwin (Yale University Press, 2009). Also included is NCSE's Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates's "Why Science Standards are Important to a Strong Science Curriculum and How States Measure Up," which surveys the treatment of evolution in the science education standards of all fifty states. "The treatment of biological evolution in state science standards has improved dramatically over the last ten years," Mead and Mates report, but the news is not all rosy: eleven states receive grades of D or F for their presentation of evolution in their standards, and the "treatment of human evolution is abysmal," with only seven states providing a comprehensive treatment. In NCSE's regular column for Evolution: Education and Outreach, Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott commented, "On the basis of Mead and Mates’s results, there is reason to be pleased by the progress over the last ten years in the inclusion of evolution in state science education standards. That the treatment of evolution is inadequate in almost one in five states still suggests that there is considerable room for improvement, but we should be optimistic that teachers, scientists, and others who care about science education will continue -- as science standards continue to be periodically revised -- to work for the appropriate inclusion of evolution in state science education standards." For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/120878/ For Mead and Mates's article, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/9u0610162rn51432/fulltext.html For Scott's column, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/e41527271423814p/fulltext.html VOYAGING WITH DARWIN AND RNCSE On August 29, 1831, Darwin received a letter broaching the idea of his sailing on the Beagle. After his father reluctantly decided to allow him to go and after Captain FitzRoy overcame his qualms about the troubling shape of the young naturalist's nose, Darwin embarked on a voyage around the world -- and the rest is history. To celebrate the anniversary, NCSE is offering advance on-line publication of a handful of reviews on recent books about Darwin. * Keith Thomson reviews Ralph Colp Jr.'s Darwin's Illness (University of Florida Press, 2008), commenting, "the story of Darwin's health is like a mystery novel from which the last chapter has been deleted ... this is a really valuable book. Everyone seeking to understand Darwin should read it and choose among the rival explanations of what brought him so low while he was achieving such greatness." * John Waller reviews Adrian Desmond and John Moore's Darwin's Sacred Cause (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), concluding, "another splendid book from Desmond and Moore, the product of vast learning and deep sympathy, conveyed with often lyrical prose. If there are difficulties with the claims they make, they have at least provided, as Darwin said of his fledgling theory in 1837, a 'theory by which to work.'" * Leo F. Laporte reviews Keith Thomson's The Young Charles Darwin (Yale University Press, 2009), commenting, "Thomson carefully and economically dispels the apparent paradox of 'an ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect' becoming the young genius in his thirties formulating the outlines of his revolutionary theory." * And Sander Gliboff reviews Benjamin Wiker's The Darwin Myth, concluding, "the book’s claims are unsurprising, since they are mostly Discovery Institute talking points that date back to the mid-1990s and have been rebutted many times since then. The biographical interpretations may be original, though. They also verge on fantasy, so I recommend this book to Harry Potter fans, in case they want to see how a real-life Rita Skeeter operates." These reviews will all appear in forthcoming issues of Reports of the NCSE. So if you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today? Reviews such as these, detailed reports on antievolution activity across the nation around the world, original scientific articles and critiques of creationism -- what's not to like? Don't miss out -- subscribe now! For these forthcoming reviews, visit: http://ncseweb.org/rncse/advance For subscription information, visit: http://ncseweb.org/membership Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncseweb.org -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncseweb.org Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition! http://ncseweb.org/evc Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools http://ncseweb.org/nioc NCSE's work is supported by its members. 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