Is it possible to teach evolution “sensitively”? A consideration of the challenges inherent in presenting potentially upsetting topics.
Go ahead and “teach the controversy:” it is the best way to defend science. A rigorous presentation of biological systems can only be strengthened by helping students understand how evolutionary mechanisms (natural, sexual, and social) shape organisms, why creationism fails to explain real world observations , and the general absurdities associated with “intelligent design” (sic) creationism.
Here are posts that relate to biology education, issues relating to course design and delivery to produce an effective and engaging curriculum, what we might term educational engineering. Some have been edited since they were first posted on the PLoS Sci-Ed site.
The politics of educational reform
Making education matter in higher education Until departments are held explicitly responsible for students learning outcomes, little substantial and sustainable change is likely – 8 December 2017
Reverse Dunning-Kruger effects and science education Getting an accurate picture of what students know, and what they have learned after instruction, is a key driver to engineering more effective courses and curricula. – 14 September 2017
Designing a Developmental Biology course from a biofundamentalist perspective (Spring 2019)
- Aggregative and clonal metazoans – 28 December 2018
- Establishing Cellular Asymmetries – 6 January 2019
- Gradients and non-linear responses – 19 January 2019
- On teaching genetics, social evolution & understanding the origins of racism – 17 October 2018
General educational topics:
Power Posing & Science Education : Thinking about the impact of what is taught as well as how it is taught.
Biology education in the light of single cell/molecule studies: Or how the ability to characterize at gene expression at the single cell level or image individual molecules changes the way we design courses. 30 October 2016.
The importance of teaching social evolutionary mechanisms. We are social creatures, both in our make up (as collection of cells) and as socially interacting organisms, part of a community. The growing presumption of privilege behind that anti-vaccination movement and the impacts of groups who hold themselves separate from the larger community need to be understood by biology students in a social evolutionary context.
Visualizing and teaching evolution through synteny New tools, such as Genomicus, allow students to explore the organization of the genome in a wide range of organisms – one possible starting point to considering evolutionary mechanisms and relationships. 10 July 2017
Molecular machines and the place of physics in the biology curriculum Expanding on a idea posed by Bruce Alberts a few decades ago. 20 April 2018