Monday, January 02, 2006

Science for the new year.

The other night we were at a dinner party and people got to talking about evolution and intelligent design in school curricula. I ended up in the same place I usually find myself in and after such discussions: feeling like they kind of miss the point. The goal of a science education isn't to teach kids how stuff works or to teach them that the state of our scientific knowledge represents The Way Things Are, even though that's how the usual pedagogy goes. The goal of a science education is to teach people how to figure out how stuff works and to teach them to discern the ways in which the current state of our knowledge just isn't accurate.

The issue isn't evolution versus intelligent design versus anything else; the issue is to teach kids what a falsifiable theory looks like (hint: intelligent design isn't it), what good empirical coverage looks like and what better empirical coverage should look like (hint: the theory of evolution as currently stated has better empirical coverage than anything anyone else has come up with in this area, but that doesn't mean there aren't gaps in explanation), and how to use these factors to discern natural from supernatural explanations for phenomena in the world around us.

A good science education doesn't teach facts; it teaches theories, and the process by which we can make those theories better.


Blogger Steve Sherlock said...

Hear, hear! good points on the argument for science and what it teaches vs does not teach. Way to go!

1:48 PM  

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