Sunday, May 3, 2009

Young Earth Creationism in British Schools

Here's an interesting anecdote. A friend of my wife's from Exeter says that she discovered her primary school was teaching her child Young Earth Creationism (YEC). When she went to the head teacher to complain, the head said that the school needed to combat the work of atheists and the anti-Christ. When this parent then went to the Local Education Authority to complain, it did nothing, citing the school's excellent performance as evidence that all was well. It is one of the top performing primaries in Exeter. Understandably, this parent feels helpless and frustrated.

It's just an anecdote. But it is yet another example of Young Earth Creationism being taught in schools without parents' knowledge (or even, in some cases, the schools' knowledge).

As I remarked earlier, it seems there is a lot more YEC being taught in schools than most of us realize.

Quoting from an earlier post:

Students from British Universities were surveyed on a range of questions, including whether they were Young Earth Creationists, and whether Young Earth Creationism had been taught to them by their parents, school, sunday school, etc.

Amazingly, 12% of these undergrads were Young Earth Creationists. But the real stand-out statistic for me was that 19% of students said that they had been taught Young Earth Creationism "as fact" in school.

19%! One in five students. We are not talking mostly Muslim schools either. The figure for those who were of other non-Christian religion was actually much lower.

If 1 in 5 British students are taught in school that it's a fact that the entire universe is less than ten thousand years old and that God made all species as literally described in Genesis, that's a national educational disgrace.

As comparatively few schools (esp. non-Muslim schools) publicly admit to teaching children Young Earth Creationism "as fact", it would appear that much of this teaching is going on under the public radar.


If you become aware of YEC being taught in your local schools, do let me know. I would also suggest contacting the local press, as Local Education Authorities seem uninterested in the problem (perhaps because their hands are, in effect, tied).

15 comments:

anticant said...

Badger Balls.

Joe Otten said...

I'm guessing that by allowing blatant axe-grinders to teach, whether political or religious, we can pay teachers less than would otherwise be necessary to keep up the numbers.

wombat said...

Perhaps as a practical measure, rather than get into the usual theist vs atheist debate (Down with the antichrist! boo! hiss! etc) one ought to point out the position of the RCC on this one. Theistic evolution is heaps better than YEC - at least it will not prevent biology and geography lessons using accurate data. It is also worth emphasizing that YEC is a step towards "fundamentalism" which ought to be a pretty strong wake up message to moderate theists.

anticant said...

It's OK to teach children that there are different opinions about the origin of the planet, and to outline what the main ones are. It's also OK to point out that some theories - such as evolution - have more scientific evidence supporting them than others.

What is not OK is to teach children that one viewpoint is "true" and must not be questioned.

wombat said...

Anticant . Agreed. (Glad you expanded on your previous comment regarding badger biology.)

Where do we draw the line about which theories to present? I am very much in favour of presenting the main competitors to or predecessors of the current main stream theories. It helps teach the history of science and gives an insight into why some theories are more successful than others. e.g. germ theory of disease replacing "humours", Copernicus replacing geocentricity, Darwin winning out over Lamarck, etc.

Should YEC have a place in the curriculum on this basis? Yes. It should be placed in historcal context and firmly debunked. About 30 seconds of teaching time well spent.

anticant said...

What bothers me about this story is that LEAs evidently think it's OK to appoint bigots like this as head teachers.

When Blair promised "educashun, educashun, educashun" what did he mean? Judging from his inane 'Faith Foundation', nothing but loads of twaddle.

The collapse of decent, properly monitored educational standards during the past decade is one of New Labour's biggest crimes. We are breeding generations of ignoramuses.

Maya said...

Just wondering - is it a religious school or a regular state school or private?

Stephen Law said...

Not sure Maya - but I had assumed religious independent. In which case I guess the LEA has very little control in any case.

Peter said...

If YEC were to be taught as a competing theory then the first problem would be which one to teach.

Each of the major religions would have a different view and we would also have to allow the Pagan and Diabolist theories as well as a host of New Age nonsense.

And... only if and when any of them the pass the rigorous scentific tests that Darwin's theory has.

Until then, the YEC proponents ahould keep their crazy ideas to themselves and not tell lies to children

IftikharA said...

Salaam

Muslim children have been attending state schools for tha last 60 years. They have been suffering from Paki-bashing and bullying. Majority of them have been leaving schools with low grades. They have been leaving schools without learning their cultural and linguistic skiils. The result is that they do not know where they belong. They suffer from Identity crises. Now Muslim youths are victim of terrorism. Thousands of them are being searched in streets and hundreds of them are behind the bar without any trial.

Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.

There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time, they need to learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notorioulsy monolingul Brit.
Iftikhar Ahmad
London School of Islamics Trust
www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

Joe Otten said...

Ifikhar, why does a teacher's religion matter when it comes to mathematics, chemistry or geography? Surely all schools should employ the best teachers they can get irrespective of religion.

Also you say that schools with a majority of Muslim pupils should be designated Muslim schools, and also that there is no place for a non-Muslim child in a Muslim school. So that means you want up to 49% of the pupils of a large number of schools thrown out?

About half the kids in my secondary school were Muslim. Had that not been the case, I might have believed half the stuff I read in the papers.

Anonymous said...

My children attend a State CoE primary school. We chose the school not because of religious beliefs (I am an atheist and my wife is agnostic) but because of the good reputation of the school. We made this clear when we applied for our elder son to attend five years ago.

Recently I was told that the new head teacher (who replaced the previous one a few years ago) believes that the Earth is only 5000 years old. If she believed that the earth was flat, or that unicorns existed, or that pigs could fly she would be out of a job in an instant. But apparently she is immune from any kind of complaint or concern in this case, even though her belief is completely irrational by any scientific standards. Is this woman competent to run a school?

Stephen Law said...

It's hard to say, to be honest. I would not automatically disqualify someone who believed in fairies, but it would give me serious pause for thought. The real worry is, is she clandestinely pushing YEC in her school. Probably, is my guess.

Anonymous said...

It's me again, from September 7. My wife (who works at the school) has told me that a new book has aappeared in the library - a lavishly illustrated "Atlas of Creation", interestingly published by not a Christian but an Islamic publisher. The preface to this book includes a no-holds-barred explanation about Darwinism being a "deception". I maintain that a primary school, C-of-E or not, should not have such propaganda available. It is an insult to science teachers, and a potential barrier to the teaching of what is an established fact.

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe in an Old Earth Creationist view such as Day-Age Theory also known as Progressive Creationism. The problem I have with Young Earth Creationism is that that it seems to place human beings and dinosaurs together. I find that rather hard to accept. I am a Christian and a member of the United Methodist Church in Chesapeake, Va.
Charles Miller, BA, Old Dominion University; MA, Liberty University