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Intelligent Design in science classes? Not in Australia.

The whole issue of "Intelligent Design" (or re-labelled Creationism - same ideas, different name) has been going around for some time now. It seems to be a thorny issue with a lot of people, on both sides of the argument. Now, as far as I'm concerned, people can believe whatever they like, as long as they don't shove it down anyone else's throats or break laws because of their beliefs.

Before I go on, a quick disclaimer: I'm certainly not intending to shove my point of view down anybody's throat here, that is not my intention. After all, you

can always stop reading now and go somewhere else in your random walk around the internet.

Anyway, what annoys me with this issue is that there is a significant group of people loudly campaigning to have Intelligent Design taught in schools alongside evolution in science classes. Now, this makes me very uneasy. I have no problem with teaching children that there are many points of view (I suspect that a bit of comparative religion in school would be a good thing), but things like this have no place in the science classroom. Intelligent Design is not a theory. It has no scientific basis. It is not science. It should not be taught as science. It is a belief.

Here's what the Australian Science Teacher's Association has to say on the matter in a press release:

The study of Science is about what is measurable, testable and evidence-based.

Scientific theories are subject to testing and are modified on the basis of facts and experimental evidence. The theory of evolution is the best scientific explanation for explaining the changes in life on Earth. As with any scientific theory, the theory of Evolution will continue to be modified as new observations and discoveries are made.

Intelligent Design is a belief system that maintains that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by the intervention of an intelligent cause. As with any religion or system of belief, it may warrant a place in a religious or cultural studies curriculum. It does not have a place in a science curriculum, alongside scientific theories such as evolution.

As it is not possible to set up an experiment to test Intelligent Design, it cannot have any status as a scientific theory and hence has not been included in science curriculum in Australia. While Intelligent Design has no status as a scientific theory, teachers of science may wish to contrast it or other belief systems with scientific theories like Evolution as a means of assisting students to understand better the nature of science.

So you should not find Intelligent Design being taught in science classrooms here (that doesn't mean that you will not find it, just that you shouldn't).

Science has enough problems in schools as it is, without teachers having this sort of thing to worry about. Science is still seen as boring by a lot of children, which is a shame, because really it's very exciting. Teaching it as a collection of facts which need to be committed to memory is a bad thing, but far easier than teaching the scientific process. I found science boring at school, until the first time I did an experiment where I didn't know what the answer was supposed to be before I started - that's when I realised how fun it can be.

Incidentally, yesterday the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills in the UK published their consultation summary report following the public consultation into "A vision for Science and Society" that's been ongoing for the last six months or so. When I've finished reading Darwin's The Origin of Species", I'll be flicking through it.

Posted by Megan on Friday 30th Jan 2009 (07:34 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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