Evolution in Primary Schools

The recent draft programme of study for the new National Curriculum (Key Stage 2) in Science, due to commence in September 2014, requires, for the first time, the statutory teaching of the theory of evolution to primary school pupils both in year 4 (age 8-9) then again in year 6 (age 10-11).

Alongside genuinely scientific topics like Electricity, Sound and States of Matter, which are experimentally demonstrable in the classroom, Year 4 pupils are to be taught, in a topic entitled Evolution and Inheritance that humans are merely animals. In year 6, this same topic is extended to include other contentious ideas such as “adaptation leads to evolution” and that humans “separated from other primates”. Clearly these things are not demonstrable in the classroom (or anywhere else) and should not be taught as fact alongside established and uncontested scientific subject material.How should teachers respond to the new guidelines?

They are being instructed to present the theory of evolution both as an established fact and in a non-critical way. However, this is contrary to both experimental evidence and expert scientific opinion, and also to the principles of the historic scientific method. By contrast, students need to be taught that a scientific idea or hypothesis (e.g. humans separated from primates) is very different from an observable fact established from repeatable experiments (e.g. unlike magnetic poles attract each other).

The evolutionary paradigm is based on a number of such unverified (and unverifiable) assumptions and teachers should be aware that there is a growing body of evidence contrary to the neo-Darwinian model.

The idea that mutation followed by natural selection accounts for the origin and development of all life on earth is at best controversial and at worst untrue. An increasing number of highly qualified research scientists, across the whole spectrum of scientific disciplines, are sceptical of the unqualified acceptance of evolutionary theory, as this website (Truth in Science) and other websites make clear (e.g. http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org).

The teaching of such controversial topics to children, as young as 8, is clearly an attempt to indoctrinate them towards a naturalistic worldview rather than to educate. We should teach children how to think and not what to think. Do we really want our primary classrooms to stifle the enquiring minds of the young by presenting and confusing them with non-testable evolutionary ideas?