Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill posted an article at Texas Insider.org yesterday (December 18), in which she argues that
… too often the tendency is to teach rote memorization of accepted facts. Instead, teachers must encourage independent thinking. By applying the scientific process, students will be challenged to think “outside the box” and form their own conclusions about topics like common ancestry.
And what kind of “scientific process” would Cargill advocate for challenging students to ‘think “outside the box” and form their own conclusions about topics like common ancestry’?
The debate about whether to teach evolution’s scientific strengths and weaknesses presents an incredible opportunity for good science instruction that will develop great thinkers. Having taught biology for many years, I assure you that high school students are smart, savvy, and curious. A sound teaching strategy is to allow them to discuss multiple aspects of controversial subjects. For example, when evidence for universal common ancestry in the fossil record is taught (i.e. scientific strength), then the contradictory evidence showing the huge gaps of missing transitional fossils in the record must also be presented (i.e. scientific weakness). We must educate our students — not indoctrinate them by letting them hear only one side of an issue.
As if gaps in the fossil record “contradict” the fossil evidence we have, and thus constitute a “scientific weakness” of evolution from common ancestry – or, for that matter, as if there’s even any “controversy” in biology over the fact of common ancestry, to begin with. Even Michael Behe now acknowledges that
Despite some remaining puzzles,[*] there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives. … Common descent is true …
Michael J. Behe (2008) The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. p. 72 [*footnote omitted].
While Cargill is no longer teaching in the public schools, the bio page on her own website as a Board member tells us:
Barbara also works closely with science teachers through in-services and consulting work. She volunteers to deliver the Science Camp discovery boxes to many local teachers. In area schools she leads various Science Outreach Programs, usually with her 50+ critters! Birthday parties, Family Science Nights, and other science programs keep Barbara busy year round. It is estimated that in 2003 alone she has worked with over 3,000 children through her science teaching programs and “WOW! Science Camp” program.
A visit to the “WOW! Science Camp” website makes it clear, first of all, that this really is Barbara Cargill’s program:
Next, we click the Navigation link for the JUST FOR KIDS! page. There, the top item we find is a link to http://www.kids4truth.com:80/watchmaker/watch.html .
A “Great Story,” indeed! While the Watchmaker “dynamation” is, I suppose, somebody’s idea of an argument for “scientific weaknesses” of evolution, kids4truth also offers a more straightforward dynamation of the seven days of God’s creation . I suppose this one is for church and home. It’s the Watchmaker dynamation (or perhaps an edited version) that would be used to “challenge” kids in Texas science classrooms to “think outside the box.”