I was originally reluctant to take my job at the university when offered it 20 years ago. It required teaching three sections of nonmajors biology classes, with 300 students per section, and as many as 1,800 students each year. I wasn’t particularly keen on lecturing to an auditorium of students whose interest in biology was questionable given that the class was a freshman requirement.
Then I heard an interview with the renowned evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson in which he addressed why, as a senior professor—and one of the most famous biologists in the world—he continued to teach nonmajors biology at Harvard. Wilson explained that nonmajors biology is the most important science class that one could teach. He felt many of the future leaders of this nation would take the class and that this was the last chance to convey to them an appreciation for biology and science. Moved by Wilson’s words, and with the knowledge that Funkhouser once held the job I was now contemplating, I accepted the position. The need to do well was unnerving, however, considering that if I failed as a teacher, a future Scopes might leave my class uninspired.
I realized early on that many instructors teach introductory biology classes incorrectly. Too often evolution is the last section to be taught, an autonomous unit at the end of the semester. I quickly came to the conclusion that, since evolution is the foundation upon which all biology rests, it should be taught at the beginning of a course, and as a recurring theme throughout the semester. My basic biology for nonmajors became evolution for nonmajors. It didn’t take long before I started to hear from a vocal minority of students who strongly objected: “I am very offended by your lectures on evolution! Those who believe in creation are not ignorant of science! You had no right to try and force evolution on us. Your job was to teach it as a theory and not as a fact that all smart people believe in!!” And: “Evolution is not a proven fact. It should not be taught as if it is. It cannot be observed in any quantitative form and, therefore, isn’t really science.”
Via en kottke.org http://ift.tt/1CtGkIV – source : slate