Reflection on the difficulties of teaching evolution in high school biology
Wylie, Clyde H.
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From the time Darwin first published his book, The Origin of Species, there has been conflict. Casualties of the conflict are, perhaps, most highly noticed in terms of edification in our schools, but the consequences expand to a much larger scale. While most school systems claim to support national and state mandated science standards and accept the principles of evolution there are many schools, and certainly individual teachers, who limit their instruction of evolution or do not teach it at all. There is evidence to support a lack of understanding of evolution as well as a lack of understanding of the nature of science on the part of teachers. This study is designed to investigate the level of acceptance of evolution as a topic to be taught and to determine why there is delineation at a point where it is not accepted. Of great interest is the relationship between the acceptance of evolution and understanding of the nature of science by the teacher. More specifically, this study looks at (a) how understanding the nature of science affects a teacher’s acceptance of evolution; (b) how understanding the nature of evolution affects a teacher’s acceptance of evolution; (c) how a change in the understanding of the nature of science affects a teacher’s acceptance of evolution; (d) to what extent teachers understand evolution and the nature of science; (e) how understanding the nature of science affects a teacher’s willingness to teach evolution. This study is a product of personal interest and professional concern for a documented problem in science education. There have been studies directed at measuring the understanding of the nature of science as well as those measuring acceptance of evolution. This study combines the two concerns using both quantitative and qualitative data to illustrate that further understanding of the nature of science contributes to understanding and acceptance of evolution and willingness to teach evolution and it makes available some reasons why.