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  Topic: British 'Faith' schools and creationism, Keeping ID out of the UK< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,06:11   

I've started off this thread to carry over the conversations started off in the 'Bathroom Wall' and elsewhere on this topic.

With the controversy about the new 'White Paper' for education that is raging at the moment - I think this deserves a thread of its own. It seems to me that American inspired creationists have spotted a 'backdoor route' to teaching Creationism and ID as Science in the UK. Tony Blair claims to be interested in 'diversity', 'introducing new partners'; and is unduly impressed by the 'performance' of Faith schools.

So here's a new thread - another reason for it is we don't want our American cousins wondering why we are spending so much time in the 'Batroom' talking to each other!

I don't think the British media have really picked up on the implications of his proposals; and he rarely gets challenged on the implications for the teaching of evolution.

The most up-t0date resources on the subject are collated by the British Humanist Society here:

Faith Schools: useful facts, figure and information.

The Education Guardian - (Polly Toynbee article) is tracking the issue.

I also found this very recent study on the reasons for the apparant good 'performance' of faith schools informative:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/policy/story/0,,1693069,00.html

..and this one about how giving schools the right to determine their own admissions leads to further segregation:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/policy/story/0,,1693900,00.html

For info on what the National Curriculum require we teach our children on matters of evolution (statutory), - look here:

/@id=6821&POS[@stateId_eq_note]/@id=6821]http://www.nc.uk.net/webdav.....id=6821

and for faith (non-statutory) look here:

http://www.nc.uk.net/webdav....id=7881


I think it would be good if the British commentators on the PT were to inform the British Press and MP's of the significance of to these new proposals of the debate that has been raging over ID in the states. While we've been interested onlookers - perhaps we've overlooked a threat nearer to home?

I'm sure we are all of different political persuasions, and will have varying opinions on the subject of education - but that shouldn't matter if we can agree on the issue of teaching ID

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,10:56   

I do not particularly object to religious education in school. So long as it is taught as religion. It has no place in a biology class.

As far as I am concerned faith schools are ok so long as they stick to the curiculum. I would not agree with new ones being built by public funding though.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,11:45   

Hi Steve..

I guess we don't disagree much - but I'm glad we come to our agreements from different starting points - it's going to make  our excursion to London all the more interesting!

It would be fun to meet a guy like Flint - for all that we like to argue here I'm sure we would respect each other a lot, and find more room for agreement than otherwise.

What a weird world these discussion forums are.

What a strange collection of 'trolls we attract. I think there is some truth in the observation that wheras the scientifically inclined can start from divergent political views but agree about the specifics of things that are empirically testable ( in other words -agree), the people on the other side are an explosive mixture when it comes to the Truth™.

Imagine Carol, DaveScot, Jad, Heddle, Larry and 'Ghost of Paley' having dinner together - then going off to see a lecture by Dembski at some seminary or other.

No .. my imagination doesn't stretch that far either - would make for a good *Big Brother* reality TV show though.

.. back to British schools...

Blair is coming in for a lot of flak about potential 'selection' for schools.

The expansion of faith schools, and the intention to hand over controls to wealthy 'highly motivated' - sponsors - that the new proposals would allow: hardly seems to get a mention - am I missing something?...

(anyone see the new political satire comedy series "In the thick of it"? - all about the triumph of 'spin' over substance..?)

... and I have to confess to enjoying watching 'Celebrity Big Brother' for the spectacle of George Galloway self-destructing. To watch a dotty 'Essex girl' (Chantelle) taking him apart in a way that Christopher Hitchens and the massed might of the US Senate couldn't: restores my faith in the masses. OT I know ... but heck I started it...


P.S - can we please have a 'British Blasphemy Censorer' for this thread?  Heck isn't a bad word in the UK. Heck as in rhymes with  deck by the way....

Oh? - i thought you couldn't say heck here - maybe I was thinking of #### ..? you get a lot of x's if you say that word ( rhymes with 'Dingly Dell'  )

so Heck! Heck! Heck!

Flipping Heck!

Sugar!

Crikey!

Fiddlesticks!

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,12:03   

Quote
Ideas and evidence in science

1) Students should be taught:
...
b. how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence [for example, Darwin's theory of evolution]
...


Although it could be misused, when i was being taught evolution in high school, creationism was occasionally referred to as an example of misrepresentation of scientific evidence. Since i did my gcse's fairly recently ('99), the bacterial flagellum was discussed both as an example of how molecular evolution is misunderstood (ie the 'take away one part' argument, although ID and IC were not named), and how just because we don't know something doesn't mean we never will.

Do you have any links to examples of how current schools have been teaching creationsim/ID, or how the new legislation will help them? I will then be certainly writing to my MP and whoever else can think of.

I have recently been worried to learn as well there are several AIG ministeries in the UK, I think i might have to pop along to their talk at Liverpool university.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,13:09   

Quote
do you have any links to examples of how current schools have been teaching creationsim/ID, or how the new legislation will help them?

This is pretty disturbing.

Quote
Legislation lays down that independent schools can go their own way in many things - they do not have to abide by the national curriculum

Do will know if this will apply to the new schools Tony Blair is proposing?

Quote
for children at ACE schools the literal interpretation of Genesis permeates everything they are taught. ... Tom Price has five children at the school, and loves that they are being taught that the six-day creation story is a fact


Im surprised Richard Dawkins didn't made a bigger deal out of this in his program.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,13:25   

This thread seems as though it is asking 2 different questions.
1 on ID/creationism.
and
1 on selection.

Dean, I believe we will disagree on a lot of things. But at least I reckon we could have a civil and reasonable (hopefully interesting to-boot) conversation about it.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,14:56   

Hi Steve,

one of the ways that the US and the UK differ is that they have a constitution that says that the state should not be involved in endorsing or suppressing the religion or beliefs of it's citizens.

One of the prongs of the 'Lemon test' for this is whether an action leads to the 'entanglement' of the state in faith issues. This acts a protection agains the teaching of religious doctrine as science.



In the UK we don't have this. We do however pride ourselve on a sensible attitude to things.

The issue of teaching Creationism in science in UK state schools doesn't arise as a constitutional issue - the entanglement is there already, and if faith schools of any and all types are to be encouraged - this will only get deeper.

Allowing schools to set their own admission policies, and to select by 'faith' or 'church attendance' or 'ethos' of the parents - and handing over control of the school and its curriculum to a wealthy evangelical as in the case of Emmanuel College in Gateshead and similar 'city acadamies':


City schools could be front for evangelicals

Quote
Education ministers have pledged to create up to 200 City Academies. The scheme involves private sponsors contributing £2 million to the establishment of new state schools, run in partnership with the local education authority. Originally blue chip businesses were expected to back them, but in fact over 40 per cent of the sponsors for the Academies due to open over the next two years are either faith-based charities, Church of England figures or well-known evangelicals.

Among the forthcoming projects is the Grace Academy, due to open in Solihull this year with another to come in Coventry: its sponsor is the car dealer and born-again Christian Bob Edmiston, founder of the evangelical broadcasting organisation Christian Vision.

He has reportedly dismissed evolution as a theory that 'came from one guy called Darwin', and project spokesman Steve Chase has said the Coventry school will teach creationism: 'What we've said is we will teach evolution - because it is a theory still, unless someone has found the missing link and proofs to put it to bed once and for all - and creationism, in the appropriate subjects.

'Certainly evolution is usually taught in science and creationism usually in RE, but that would not exclude a closer look at comparative theories of the origins of the world in either subject.'

All British schools must teach evolution as part of the science curriculum. But the Department for Education and Skills allows the teaching of creationism alongside it in RE classes.


... wil clearly lead to the teaching of creationism and ID in science classes.

... spot the doublespeak there by the way....

Blairs white paper, School 'Independance and selection' - and the opportunities for Evangelicals to teach ID as science are intimately linked in the UK.

It would be nice if we could have clear cut 'Dover' cases - but we don't - we have a parliamentary system. If you are concerned about this the time to do it is now. Once the system is in place it will be to late for the kids involved, and undoing the damage will bew far harder than putting an end to it in the first place....

Incidentally all state-funded schools are required to teach the National Curriculum ... but these proposed 'independant schools' are allowed freedom to decide how they want to do it.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,15:19   

.. Emmanuel College has to a bit careful about 'toeing the line' on teaching the National Curriculum. But I'm sure some of our American friends can see the true intention behind these fine sounding words in its approach to teaching science:

http://www.angelfire.com/nb/lt/docs/EmColl.pdf

Quote
Science

Emmanuel College has been established "to the glory of God" and, from its very
name, seeks to present the Curriculum in its widest sense in terms of a Christian
viewpoint. In many ways, the World View which places as an absolute priority the
rights of the individual to choose between what is and what is not acceptable is so
prevalent in our culture that any attempt to challenge it is seen as reactionary,
sinister or risible. Emmanuel seeks to make this very challenge.
In this context, Science is intrinsically bound up within the culture in which it exists
and approaching the Curriculum from a Christian perspective offers an opportunity to
re-evaluate the implications of contemporary World Views upon scientific study. The
ultimate aim will therefore be to give a positive perspective of God's purposes in
creation and, equally importantly, to make us better scientists.

The humanistic scientific heritage

The "modern" approach to Science, originally put forward by Francis Bacon (1561 -
1626), relies upon the logic that experience generates theory that can be tested by
repeatable experiment, the results of which modify or confirm the original theory
and/or lead to further experimentation. In this light, the best scientists are the ones
who ask the right questions rather than those who generate the right answers.
Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, a 'tentative theory' often soon becomes
elevated into a 'law' around which a faith system emerges and sceptical thought is
inhibited. Boyle wrote a book called 'The Sceptical Chymist' in which he argued that
science was fundamentally about continuing to ask questions rather than simply
accepting the uncritical emergence of such 'laws'.
The 'anti scientific scientists', on the other hand, believe in the capacity of the human
mind to understand the whole of Creation and have created a 'faith system' in tune
more with humanism than with true academic scientific questioning. We seek to
distinguish between this 'scientism' and objective scientific enquiry.

The Biblical Christian perspective

All Christian thought stems from the Truths presented within the Bible and there is a
clear message throughout its pages from the first to the last page. From this source,
we read of several key Truths:

The Universe was created from nothing by God;

The Creator is separate from His Creation but is intrinsically bound up with its
support and ongoing workings;

Humanity is the crowning glory of this Creation and, although made of the same
physical substance, has been uniquely made in God's image and enlivened by His
very breath. Mankind has similarly been given a unique stewardship over the rest of
Creation;

Humanity knows the difference between good and evil but the Creation is fallen from
its original perfection and
Christ is God the Son who came to earth to lead us back to God and who died to
atone for our sin. Through Him alone can we be redeemed.


Therefore, through the eyes of the Biblical Christian, Science becomes the vehicle
and the vocabulary in which the reality of God's Creation can be explored, explained
and exalted. The study of Science is not an end in itself but an academic meditation;a glimpse into the rational and powerful hand of the Almighty.
Science becomes a
privilege insofar as the full depths of reality are left open for us to glance into, aware
that, whilst we can develop an understanding of many things, the ultimate Truths of
Creation remain something which lie only in the mind of the Creator Himself.
And that is enough; for Science must never be exalted to the position of a god itself.

The implications for an approach to the study of Science

We follow in the footsteps of Newton and Einstein who, in studying Science, were
conscious of the exploration of the Creation and hoped to gain insight into the mind
of the Creator. As such the study was conducted with a sense of awe, wonder, trust
and respect. The placing of humans within the context of Creation means that any
interpretation or understanding will be limited by the extent of our senses and
intellect - a bit like the limitations placed on the approach to absolute zero and the
speed of light. It will also be important for ethical and moral issues to be explored
using Biblical Absolutes as the best starting point.


... very slippery indeed as Hannibal lecter would say - notice that Newton and Einstein are okay - but Darwin doesn't get a mention.

This was an inner-city school handed over to an evangelical used car salesman for a pittance. They immediately kicked out the difficult kids (having a 'special learning need' makes you difficult in their eyes) - and don't treat the one they have left very well.

Hey presto! their results improve and Tony Blair loves them. When questioned about the dubious nature of their teaching, and state money beinused to indoctinate kids Tony Blair says something vague about 'encouraging diversity'.

Handing over school control and power of admissions to individuals like this is the way ID and Creationism will be taught in British Schools with the taxpayers money -

if we allow it to happen that is...

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,15:21   

Dean,
I cannot give an answer yet. I will need to investigate further. Had too many drinks to read critically ATM.

IMO though. Within state education. Every child should have the same basic primary education opportunity.

At the end of the last year of primary school children should be tested.

In secondary education I believe students should be educated according to ability/talent.

I would like to see education capital used to its best effect. I dislike the disproportionate amount of money spent on disruptive pupils, that IMO could be spent on normal and exceptional kids.

Yes I agree, initially help should be given to dissadvantged children. But only so much. Not let them become a fiscal black-hole that saps a hude % of cash away from mainstream students.

It is not fair if a large portion of the budget is spent on the small fraction of problem makers.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,23:53   

Hi Steve..

I don't think the debate in the UK is on the basis of selection by ability.

In fact this is specifically ruled out by the Labour Party, who have to a certain extent wrtten this into law. The new leader of the Conservative party have committed them to the same principle.

As for disruptive kids - id you give up on them at any age when they are still at school, society ends up playing a far greater price for the rest of their lifetimes.

Remember it costs more to keep someone in jail than it does to send them to Eton. Huge amounts of government money are being spent to teach adults how to read and write at the moment (without a lot of success). Adults who can't read or use numbers are almost unemployable nowadays. Far better to address the issue when the kids are still at school.

Don't get the impression I'm a big softie - I've worked on compulsory programmes to get young adults like this to get their lives back on track - It's hard work believe me, and sometimes you just want to strangle them.

Existing programs are working - and combined with social measures like ASBO's, and the new pressure on people on invalidity benefit to get work; and for people generally to realise that they have responsiblities as well as rights; show that there is a determination to address these issues. We have an active 'Surestart' programme in Hastings (as do many deprived areas  - which aims to get parents to bring there kids up properly before they even attend school. Thats about the best use of money I can think of in an area like this.

Anyway I digress. I think we can rally around the flag of 'keeping creationism and ID out of schools'.
The battleground in the UK is the new goverment White Paper - which promotes the creation of new 'Faith Schools' which can be handed over to wealthy evangelicals who can then take charge of the school curriculum, free from the control of their local authority.

One approach to this would be to mandate in much more specific terms what children should and shouldn't be taught in science classes; through the National Curriculum. Another would be to stop the process altogether. In many people opinion it is built on a faulty premise anyway.

The media in the UK seem to prefer to relate this as a power struggle between Blair and the rest of the Labour party, without focusing on the issues involved. I don't think they are the alert to the danger to science education. Since most people in the media are humanities graduates who don't understand or care anyway -perhaps this is not suprising.

My local MP, Michael J Foster is a devout Christian; but he's against the proposals. Good for him I say.

What is your MP's position on this matter?

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,01:21   

Quote




Posts: 143
Joined: Dec. 2005
 Posted: Jan. 25 2006,05:53    

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Steve..

I don't think the debate in the UK is on the basis of selection by ability.

In fact this is specifically ruled out by the Labour Party, who have to a certain extent wrtten this into law. The new leader of the Conservative party have committed them to the same principle.

I do not know about this. Have you any links?
Who can't select by ability?
Is it all state schools or some? Does it include private and public schools? How about Universities? I will do a search later. Got to get ready for work soon and should be able to check while there.

Quote

As for disruptive kids - id you give up on them at any age when they are still at school, society ends up playing a far greater price for the rest of their lifetimes.

Agreed.

Quote

Remember it costs more to keep someone in jail than it does to send them to Eton.

Now that is bizzare. I agree but don't understand why. It costs about £30K/year to atend Eton, it has fantastic facilities 24Hr accomodation and the kids are fed. Do you have any idea why a prison is so much more expensive/year?

Quote

Huge amounts of government money are being spent to teach adults how to read and write at the moment (without a lot of success). Adults who can't read or use numbers are almost unemployable nowadays. Far better to address the issue when the kids are still at school.

Don't get the impression I'm a big softie - I've worked on compulsory programmes to get young adults like this to get their lives back on track - It's hard work believe me, and sometimes you just want to strangle them.

That is another thing I don't understand. If somebody is unemployable and on benefits, why can't the benefits depend on atending and reaching certain levels of training.

Why should unemployment benefit be eligible to people who desire and choose to be unemployed?


Quote

Existing programs are working - and combined with social measures like ASBO's, and the new pressure on people on invalidity benefit to get work; and for people generally to realise that they have responsiblities as well as rights; show that there is a determination to address these issues. We have an active 'Surestart' programme in Hastings (as do many deprived areas  - which aims to get parents to bring there kids up properly before they even attend school. Thats about the best use of money I can think of in an area like this.

The culture of rights gets me wound up. I agree that people have rights but they should come with accepting responsibilities.

Quote

Anyway I digress. I think we can rally around the flag of 'keeping creationism and ID out of schools'.
The battleground in the UK is the new goverment White Paper - which promotes the creation of new 'Faith Schools' which can be handed over to wealthy evangelicals who can then take charge of the school curriculum, free from the control of their local authority.

"keeping creationism and ID out of schools."
Agreed, providing we are both talking about keeping it from being taught as fact or in science classes.

It could have a place in political, historical or religious classes.

When you say these schools will be free from local council control. Do you also mean free from national standards or inspection?

Quote

One approach to this would be to mandate in much more specific terms what children should and shouldn't be taught in science classes; through the National Curriculum. Another would be to stop the process altogether. In many people opinion it is built on a faulty premise anyway.

Would it not be simpler to just concentrate on what should be taught. The shouldn't list seems complicated. Very long and leaves a loophole to people claiming "that isn't on the shouldn't list".

Quote

The media in the UK seem to prefer to relate this as a power struggle between Blair and the rest of the Labour party, without focusing on the issues involved. I don't think they are the alert to the danger to science education. Since most people in the media are humanities graduates who don't understand or care anyway -perhaps this is not suprising.


UK media sucks. Look at which are our most popular newspapers. The BBC has also dumbed down, they used to provide class news, documentary, hitorical and science programmes. Now they seem to be mainly concentrating on  viewing figures.


Quote


My local MP, Michael J Foster is a devout Christian; but he's against the proposals. Good for him I say.

What is your MP's position on this matter?  


I am not even sure who my MP is. I have only recently moved to Windsor (Berks). But looking at the way this town is run it's pretty unlikely to have elected a ludicrous MP. I will find out and write to him/her though.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,04:00   

Quote
It costs about £30K/year to atend Eton, it has fantastic facilities 24Hr accomodation and the kids are fed. Do you have any idea why a prison is so much more expensive/year?

Apparently it costs about £600 a week to keep someone in prison, which works out as £31200 a year so comparable to Eton. Although apparently this is still value for money.

http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/prisonValue.php

I dont know about most prisons but the prison near where i grew up was exactly like a center parcs, and our school and many local sports teams used to use their gym and other facilities as there were a lot better than we had. So this may account for some of the costs.

My MP is a liberal democrat so he already is against Tony Blairs plans, but im sure they wouldn't mind one more reason to reject them.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,07:01   

Quote
I do not know about this. Have you any links?
Who can't select by ability?


Discussed at PM's questions today for example - and we're talking schools - up to sixteen, not colleges or university.
The few remaining Grammar schools, mainly in Kent, are allowed to continue their practices.

Prison costs so much because of the costs of security, and the high staff/prisoner ratios required. I have a cousin who has been in a number of prisons (for drug dealing) - and he doesn't describe them as centre parcs. He did learn to drive a JCB in one which has allowed him to get a proper job and has kept him out of trouble (as far as i know!;)

Quote

"Huge amounts of government money are being spent to teach adults how to read and write at the moment (without a lot of success). Adults who can't read or use numbers are almost unemployable nowadays. Far better to address the issue when the kids are still at school.

Don't get the impression I'm a big softie - I've worked on compulsory programmes to get young adults like this to get their lives back on track - It's hard work believe me, and sometimes you just want to strangle them."


That is another thing I don't understand. If somebody is unemployable and on benefits, why can't the benefits depend on atending and reaching certain levels of training.

Why should unemployment benefit be eligible to people who desire and choose to be unemployed?


I ran the 'New Deal program' in Hastings up to last year - when we were closed down. This required unemployed adults to undergo compulsory training, and undertake community work; or lose benefits.  To cut a long story short -despite years of success - our funding was withdrawn - it obviously costs to provide the training, and 'Jobcentre Plus' were no longer willing to pay (they are being hit by Gordon Brown cuts to the civil service - but find it easier to cut funding to charities like the one I worked for).
So ironically now I'm unemployed, and there are no longer any decent programmes in place to get the long-term unemployed back to work...

I agree with you about tightening up the currriculum and ''specifying what should be excluded' (actually a daft idea of 'Larry's' - it would be better to stop schools falling into the hands of evangelicals in the first place.

Read through some of the links I gave to find out more - I wouldn't want you to depend entirely on my interpretation.

If you want to find out who your elected representative are - type in your postcode here:

http://www.writetothem.com/

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,07:06   

Wow - looks like you have a black, slightly rebellious, conservative MP:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/adam_afriyie/windsor

... don't see many of those...

worth a letter - especially if you stick to the 'good teaching of science' line. Won't change conservative policy but might set him thinking...

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,07:20   

Hey Dean,
My M.P. is Adam Afriyie (Con.).
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/adam_afriyie/windsor

I intend to write to him eventually. First I want to do more research. Both into him and the ID movement.

I have doubts that many people in the UK would believe what we have concerns about. Without evidence, a warning about Christian fundamentalists plotting to get creation taught as science sounds incredible.

They would probably believe we were the sort of people who sound alarms about space alien activity.

  
guthrie



Posts: 696
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,07:23   

It seems that Dean is making a lot of my argumetns for me, and he seems to know a lot more about the jobs system than myself.  (Not too surprising, since its a couple of years since I last claimed benefits and I've never had anything else to do with it other than that.)

But anyway, I would like to suggest with regards to a curriculum- you can I think dictate from the centre the broad guidelines for what can be taught in a class.  This is what should be done with ID/ creationism, which are not sciences, therefore belong only in RE or sociology or suchlike, as has been pointed out above.  

Now, such an approach could easily still leave the local schools to teach within the guidelines how they wanted.  However, I believe that one of the problems with teaching these days can be the unhealthy interest the gvt takes in how things are done.  Instead of leaving councils etc to manage their local area, the gvt insists on lots of notices on how to do things, or in other words, they have a tendency to micromanage.  Remember also that the tendency for over 30 years now has been to centralise control.  Local councils arent worth much nowadays, indeed, I have a book written by David Blunkett when he was in Sheffield, about how the gvt of the day was taking away local freedom and responsibility.  Blair et al are just continuing this.  

Its a bit like the problem in the USA- if they leave everything up to the local school boards, many of them will mandate creationism/ ID.  If they take it out their hands, it gives central gvt one more thing to mess up, as well as leaving it open to charges of taking away said localness.  

Dean- with regards to programs to get the lon term unemployed back to work, have they done real cost benefit analyses between the money spent getting someone back to work, and the money saved by cutting the program?

And wouldnt it be great if we could get some more people doing science this way?

Oh yes, a more political point- my understanding of why the BBC is making more rubbish popular guff is because certain people wanted it to stop making quality stuff watched by less people.  Remember also the massive cuts and general hollowing out and privatisation of much of the Beeb, as well as the continuous attacks by Murdoch et al, and you can see there is only one way certain people want it to go- privatisation.  Which I personally would oppose.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,13:55   

I am having trouble in deciding how to compose a letter to my MP.

Thoughts so far:
Inform him about the ID movement with a copy of the wedge document.
Point out where the funding is coming from.
Provide evidence of comments such as that televangelist made about Dover (was it Pat something?).
Atempt to give him doccumentation about the Dover trial and Judge Jones' decision.

Anybody else got any ideas.

My main concern is that it all sounds so unbelievable we will look like cranks.

Some advice/help from the pro-science USA crowd would be also apreciated. You lot have the most experience after-all.

  
SimonHeffer



Posts: 1
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,01:43   

There's a BBC Horizon program 'War on Science' tonight on BBC One at 2100GMT.
It includes a rather worrying survey, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4648598.stm for details.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,02:26   

Well it doesnt sound too unbelievable any more, thats pretty worrying.

Quote
was it Pat something?


Its Pat robertson, if you go to this link it has a video about the dover case which includes a clip of what he said. Wikipedia also has a great list of quotes. I think its important we let everyone know the kind of people that support creationism in America.

Does anyone know what percentage of the population are religious? I know on the census it was pretty high but in polls i thought it only came to about 20%.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,03:18   

Quote (SimonHeffer @ Jan. 26 2006,07:43)
There's a BBC Horizon program 'War on Science' tonight on BBC One at 2100GMT.
It includes a rather worrying survey, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4648598.stm for details.

I fully intend to watch that.

I didn't manage to spot how the poll was conducted though, so I am taking those figures with a pinch of salt.

I just cannot believe that 40% of the British public would have a clue about ID. Nobody else in my family or who I work with, has any idea what is going on in the USA with the ID shenanigans. When I have tried to explain their eyes glaze over.

To be fair, would you have imagined these activities going on?

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,03:35   

Chris Hyland,
I followed your link. #### shame the discussion was closed.

Reading the first page of comments was very disheartening. As was the BBC story. Do journalists never do any work?

Once more my opinion of the BBC sinks a notch.

I am starting to think that ID should be taught. Taught for exactly what it is. Evidence such as the Wedge strategy and the various relabling of old products should be headline news.

  
guthrie



Posts: 696
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,03:37   

WEll, ID in the UK isnt a big thing, and they have been keeping their heads down.  I wouldnt be losing sleep over it, but it would be helpful to nip it in the bud.  

I understand there is a creationism museum in Portsmouth or nearby.  I cant remember quite where I read about it.  

As for writing to your MP, also emphasise the science of it, or lack of, and how religion and science are separate etc etc etc.  Then talk about the importance of evolution in biology and how the UK is bidding to be a biotech leader etc etc, so obviously ID would be a step backwards.  You could request that they make sure the national curriculum concentrates on the science, as decided by eminent scientists in their field, thus ID would be non science therefore should not be taught.  And direct him to talkorigins and basic evolutionary biology textbooks, because ultimately he might get interested enough to do his own digging.

  
guthrie



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,04:03   

Stephen, I can understand the BBC closing comments, since firstly, they have limited space to post them and time to deal with any problems, as well as each story having its own lifetime.  Furthermore, that is not a proper "forum" really.  SO, I have no problem with them closing it.  However I do agree that the BBC often takes too much of a "he said, she said"  "Equal time" approach to the story.  

As for journalists, I am not alone in thinking that very few of them do "real" work because it costs money, time etc etc and may annoy some people.  Plus its not what sells volumes of papers, the Sun is proof of that.  

If you want other forums in the UK, try the Guardians forum.
Also my local newspaper, "The Scotsman", has had 2 columnists scathingly mention ID, (And they were pretty well written columns as well actually, proper pieces of journalism) and one guest column from a biologist who also slated it.  So all is not lost.  But science articles in newspapers are notoriously iffy.  Some good, some bad, depending on whom they got to write them, and whether they are supposed to be educational or more issue of the moment grab the headline kind.

  
Chris Hyland



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,04:23   

Quote
I am starting to think that ID should be taught. Taught for exactly what it is


I agree, it is a great example of how prior bias can affect the interpretation of scientific evidence, which is something that needs to be taught. Irreducible complexity is a good example of how evolution does not work simply by incremental addition of parts and therefore a good introduction to duplication, HGT cooption etc. Also it would be useful to explain how the argument from ignorance is not a valid scientific argument, and that the 'gaps in the theory of evolution' are in fact questions which lead to new lines of scientific enquiry. I think teaching ID in this manner may actually be of some benefit to high school education, and long as the standards were stated clearly so they were not open to abuse.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,04:53   

mmm.. didn't think it would be as bad as this - although I'm sure the people that put 'Intelligent Design' were going by their interpretation of that phrase alone.


Some ideas for your letter Steve.

- Look at your MP's position on various matters - he is for freedom of choice - and against 'government interference'.

You need to appeal to his 'conservative' tendancies; patriotism; and 'taxpayers money' being spent on 'special interest groups; and possibly the fact that the conservative party is trying to re-brand itself as a modernd progressive party. Most conservatives are very wary of getting involved with the religious right - unlike their American counterparts. They very much see themselves as the 'sensible' party.

You need to throw some questions at him so he has to research the subject to give you an answer.


Keep it as simple and to the point as possible.

Explain you are interested in good science education.

Explain you have been following the debate in America - refer to the Dover decision.

Explain how although you agree with freedom of choice, you are alarmed that 'taxpayers money' could be handed over to special interest groups to promote their particular religious views, and how this can be at the expense of good science teaching for our children.

Say that Darwin is a scientist the UK should be proud of, and good science teaching is vital if we are going to maintain our position as world leaders in science and technology.

Say you understand that the Conservative Party supports the government white paper on education.

Then ask two questions:

Does this include support for the creation of new schools controlled by individuals opposed to good science teaching?

Does the Conservative Party support the teaching of Creationism and 'Intelligent Design Theory' in science classes; as opposed to RE classes?

If it is opposed - will it be asking for assurances that good science teaching will not be compromised if state schools are handed over to other groups to run?

...

that should do for now - if he comes back with a bland reply you can follow up with a few references.

If by then you find any local examples (of proposed evangelical schools) this might help attract his attention.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,05:16   

Teaching about ID as a political movement for  brighter A Level kids, or University students  might be fine in principle  -once they actually understand how evolution works  - but how many kids actually leave school without really understanding evolution? Is talk of flagellums and Dembskis mathematical constructs going to enlighten or confuse them?
There are only so many hours of teaching time - why allow time set aside for the teaching of science to be spent on defending against non-science.
How about taking up some of the RE time and explaining that Creationism and ID is a 'belief' like many others. I'm not sure that too many RE teachers would be keen on taking up their time on explaining that the Raelians believe in intelligent design, and that we were all made by space aliens.


If you change the national curricullum to allow 'teaching ID as part of the controversy' - how far have you opened the door to schools like Emmanuel College to interpret this as they see fit?

Educating our science teachers so they can answer topical questions would be a good idea - but there are enough problems finding science teachers in the first place.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,05:51   

Dean,
Thanks for the advice on letter content.

I think you mistook the way I would like to see ID taught though. I would want it taught as we have seen it. A sham. A conspiracy to use political methods to undermine evolution and promote a more docile population. I would like their tactics to pointed out with specific examples of how they shift position, re-label old arguments, dispose of evidence and even lie under oath (all in the name of God).

If ID was taught the way I envision, it would atract precious few supporters.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,11:21   

Hi Steve,

remember that before 'teaching the controversy' - teachers have to teach basic literacy and numeracy.

12 million adults have a lower reading age, than most primary school children are expected to have at age 11.

Isn't it obvious that you have to teach evolution before you can examine the objections to it?

How would the 'challenge any controversy' idea work if you applied this to all subjects? (remember we are talking about secondary aged kids - 14 year olds -)...

What if you could find a few linguists who denied the existance of language - or some that denied the existance of a particular language?

Should all French lessons be prefaced with:

"there is contoversy about language - some people disagree with what the words mean.

.. other people don't like the French, and point out that there are syntactical flaws in their language. Before learning the language we will proceed to a thorough examination of these syntactical flaws.

Tommorow we will be examaning how unlikely it is that these complex and sophisticated cheese-eating surrender monkeys could exist, let alone have a language...

Au Revoir!"

It was fun to watch the Horizon program tonight -  and to see some of the protaganists...

Dembski really does look like that guy that plays the Banjo in 'Deliverence'.....

.. and so cool to see Dover itself and such..

but the 'fairness' of the BBC and the 'graphics and sound men' - just confused the issue rather than shining light - 5 out of 10 BBC.

Attenborough was a star as usual... if they'd handed the whole program over to him -it might have been more educational.

He'll be good for a quote here..

.. good, in fact, for a quote to your MP Steve...

he might have a few letters in his mailbag now, make sure you let him know why you're an informed voice on the subject.

... and to think I missed Celebrity BB for that!!!???

I've got this on VHS - but I'd love the PT'ers in the States to see it...

How???

  
Chippy



Posts: 2
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 27 2006,05:30   

I too want to send my MP a message about this - he is a certain David Cameron, so I'm not sure how much good i will do.

All advice on approaching 'Dave' most welcome...

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 27 2006,08:21   

MP's do take notice of what's in their postbag - especially if letters are poleitely written and  seem to come from sane constituents with legitimate concerns.

If nothing else al letter from David Cameron would prompt him (or one of his advisors) to inform himself on the subject.

I'd take the same approach as for Steve Elliot's MP.
You could tell him that Martin Rees the Astronomer Royal and president of the Royal Society is concerned about the state of teaching of Evolution in schools - and that David Attenborough is also concerned.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 01 2006,12:28   

We've just stated a forum specifiaclly to discuss ID in the UK, and in particular on keeping it out of schools.

Not much there at the moment - but it's part of the 'Just Science' site which has lot's of background on the UK situation,

Cheers
Dean

http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 01 2006,13:03   

Quote (Dean Morrison @ Feb. 01 2006,18:28)
We've just stated a forum specifiaclly to discuss ID in the UK, and in particular on keeping it out of schools.

Not much there at the moment - but it's part of the 'Just Science' site which has lot's of background on the UK situation,

Cheers
Dean

http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?

I just registered.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 02 2006,00:17   

Cheers Steve,

I've just mailed the Royal Society to ask why they haven't put out a statement in the way that the AAAS have - more info at:

http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=4

  
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