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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bill Nye/ Ken Ham debate

For my Teaching Science K-4 class we were asked to watch the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate of evolution vs. creation.

 Both Bill Nye and Ken Ham made very valid arguments for their opposing sides. I feel that this is a topic that will never be agreed upon. When discussing something this controversial it becomes hard for some people to talk in a professional matter. I feel that these two men kept their emotions out of the debate enough so they both remained professional. 

Ken stated 'if you teach creation in a public school that's teaching religion. If you teach evolution that's science"

This is a very important topic in schools. Many districts in our country have opted to discuss the theory of evolution as part of their curriculum. This can make some teachers uncomfortable. They think 'what should I do?' 

Science should be all about DISCOVERY! Children love doing hands on learning and actually becoming 'scientists' discovering new ideas. Let science be messy and fun not lectures that half of the children will ignore. If we constantly lecture the students will not learn and they will not enjoy science as they should! 

In my opinion, since the school districts call for evolution to be taught, I believe the teachers should teach a little bit of  evolution and a little bit of creation. By teaching this we are educating children on the diverse thinking about how the world came to be about how it is now. It should be kept simple and contain the 'facts' from each side. We should not teach these two sides to try and cause tension in the school. They should be used as a tool to help show diversity in society. 

Where do you stand as teachers, educators, parents, grandparents, citizens? 


  1. After watching the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham debate I feel that I am more likely to believe the theories and ideas expressed by Bill Nye.

    Science classrooms in today’s public schools should teach a curriculum based in evolution because it is the core of basic scientific knowledge. I believe that private schools, if not publicly funded, can teach whatever doctrines they feel closely relate to the mission of the school. I also believe that parochial schools are the best settings to teach creationism in science class because curriculums in these schools are bible based.

    When I was working on my undergrad degree in elementary education, science courses were geared towards using the Constructivist method of teaching. I feel that this is the best way to involve students in the process of discovering a variety of things science related.

    The following passages come from the Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 3, Issue 1, Article 1(June, 2002) and I feel that they express how a science class should function:

    "Constructivism sees learning as a dynamic and social process in which learners actively construct meaning from their experiences in connection with their prior understandings and the social setting (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer & Scott, 1994). The Constructivist view of learning argues that students do not come to the science classroom empty-headed but arrive with lots of strongly formed ideas about how the natural world works. In the view of Constructivists, pupils should no longer be passive recipients of knowledge supplied by teachers and teachers should no longer be purveyors of knowledge and classroom managers (Fosnot, 1996). From this perspective, learning is a process of acquiring new knowledge, which is active and complex. This is the result of an active interaction of key cognitive processes (Glynn, Yeany & Britton, 1991). It is also an active interaction between teachers and learners, and learners try to make sense of what is taught by trying to fit these with their own experience."

    "Constructivist views also emphasize generative learning, questioning or inquiry strategies (Slavin, 1994). An emphasis on Constructivism and hands-on inquiry-oriented instruction to promote children's conceptual knowledge by building on prior understanding, active engagement with the subject content, and applications to real world situations has been advocated in science lessons (Stofflett & Stoddart, 1994). And Constructivist views emphasizing discovery, experimentation, and open-ended problems have been successfully applied in science (Neale & Smith, 1990). Wildy and Wallace (1995) believed that good science teachers are those who teach for deep understanding: "They use students' ideas about science to guide lessons, providing experiences to test and challenge those ideas to help students arrive at more sophisticated understanding. The classrooms of such teachers are learner-centered places where group discussion, exploration and problem solving are common place." (p.143)"

    On a side note, I have subbed in a few classes where some students were not permitted to participate in the pledge of allegiance in school because of religious beliefs and because the word “God” was used. If I had to teach creationism in a science classroom would these students be allowed to participate in class activities/discussions? Would I have to send them out of the room? Wouldn't they begin to feel left out while their classmates are having fun learning and exploring?

    1. Very nice points! The constructivist views are very big in all of the education classes that I have taken so far during my education.

      I think as we move forward more and more student's will not partake in different aspects of the class because it is against their beliefs. Like you mentioned with the pledge of allegiance certain things will upset a family because of their different beliefs. I think if you would teach both creation and evolution you would have to notify the parents first. This way it will not come back on you.


  2. I am torn because I believe that certain things should be taught if they have proven facts which science often has but teaching both at a young age may confuse the student because both sides disagree with each other, regardless this debate will continue to go until the end of time