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US high school teachers ignore evolutionary biology

Since the teachers who have completed a course in evolution are more likely to support evolutionary biology, all education majors should take evolution course at the university level before they start teaching science at high schools.

Don't be surprised if one day your high school kid asks you how humans came into being. Wondering why? Well, majority of the U.S. high school teachers fail to effectively teach evolutionary biology, states a new survey finding.

According to the study findings published in the journal 'Science,' though evolution is the foundation of biology, majority of the teachers in high school do not endorse evolution.

Evolutionary theory states that all organisms evolved from some common ancestor. It states that single ancestral species split and diversified into two or more different species.

Only 28% follow guidelines
The Penn State scientists questioned 926 teachers, who were a part of the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, on what they taught to students and how much time they spent on each subject.

Shockingly, only 28 percent of high school biology teachers implement National Research Council recommendations, and "unabashedly introduce evidence that evolution has occurred and craft lesson plans so that evolution is a theme that unifies disparate topics in biology.”

Researchers also found that 13 percent of teachers support creationism and spend at least one hour in the class “presenting it in a positive light.”

Creationism theory states that that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being.

"Our general sense is they lack the knowledge and confidence to go in there and teach evolution, which makes them risk-averse."--Michael Berkman, co-author of the study with Penn State University colleague Eric Plutzer

60% have no solid stance
The rest 60 percent tried to avoid the controversy. Some of these teach evolution without providing evidence that one species gives rise to another.

Some tell students that they don't have to believe in evolution, and should only know it for the tests.

Further, most of the teachers expose students to all the positions and tell them to make up their own minds.

It is this 60 percent that is worrying the scientists, as under-teaching of evolution is even worse.

Since these teachers do not have a solid stance on evolution, they “may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists,” state scientists.

Michael Berkman, co-author of the study with Penn State University colleague Eric Plutzer, says, "Our general sense is they lack the knowledge and confidence to go in there and teach evolution, which makes them risk-averse."

Scientists call for evolution course for teachers
The researchers state that despite the American debating the notion that human evolved from ape-like ancestors, evolution should be taught in classrooms, as it is a “major unifying concept in science.”

Since the teachers who have completed a course in evolution are more likely to support evolutionary biology, all education majors should take evolution course at the university level before they start teaching science at high schools.

"If someone wants to learn about evolution, it's not hard to. It's hardly a science education problem. Scientists think if teachers just take a class they will accept it, but many simply reject it," stated Randy Moore, a science and evolution education specialist in the biology department at the University of Minnesota.