Re: textbooks

Robert L. Miller (
Sat, 29 Nov 1997 02:35:21 -0800

> Steven Schimmrich wrote:

> Do you hire geologists to unplug your toilet?
> Do you hire barbers to do your tax returns?

I once had a nuclear physicists ask me to hire him to teach a freshman high
school general science class. Times were tough.

> Because, in general, they don't have the training or knowledge to perform
> such tasks. I don't buy this "elitism" business. I think it's a red
> herring designed to appeal to those who dislike science and scientists.

I refer you to Ted Davis' post. My point is that parents ought to be involved
in the process of their children's education in some manner. They may not know
their science but they do know (at least many of them do) what values they want
their children taught. My question is how can that best be done? What are
practical steps to involve both scientists and parents? Both George Murphy and
Ted Davis have made suggestions. What do you think?

> I'm not saying that parents should have no say in what is taught in
> schoolrooms, but I am saying that having them "vote" on what should or
> should not be presented as the present state of knowledge in a science
> classroom is incredibly arrogant because most of them don't know anything
> about science (I speak as someone who just taught a large class on
> Introductory Geology for nonmajors this fall -- believe me, most college
> students I've met know next to nothing about science or math).

I am a retired high school science teacher and I'm sure none of my students
were in your Intro. to Geo. class.

> I also really doubt your claim that most students are "processed" by
> science courses at the university resulting in their becoming agnostics or
> atheists. Most college students I've interacted with avoid science courses
> like the plague.

I did not say most students were processed by science courses. I said many
students are processed by the university and become agnostic or atheist, and
much of the blame for that falls onto (whether rightly or wrongly) science
courses. There are many who agree with me on this point but I am sorry to say I
can not give you some references.

> If a secondary school science textbook is blatantly teaching that
> religion is a superstition, science has proven there is no God, etc. I
> would agree that it should not be used (Believe it or not, I'm a Christian
> as well as a geologist). This whole issue, however, is about putting
> warning labels in all books that even dare to discuss evolutionary theory
> -- an essential part of modern biology. That's a very different thing.

I agree with some qualifications. I have read a lot of high school biology
texts and I cannot remember any of them making comments about God one way or
another. But almost all of them discuss origins starting with chemical soups
that somehow willy nilly produce life. What practical steps can we take to
encourage publishers of textbooks to separate science form speculation? To its
great credit ASA has produced a resolution concerning this topic but do
textbook publishers know of its existance? Is there a way to get this message
across to publishers in a manner that would earn a hearing?