Teaching kids about Darwin's theory

Whether your child is learning in school, or home educated, it’s likely that they’ll be learning about Darwin and his theory of evolution. It’s also likely that you would consider this to be a valuable – essential – part of your child’s education. Incomprehensible that it would be disputed.

However, hard though it is to comprehend if you are educated in the UK, the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution is again being challenged in some countries. In India for example a junior education minister dismissed his theory in a peculiar statement about no one ‘ever witnessing an ape turning into a man’ as was reported here.

Consequently there is the possibility of it being removed from the curriculum in places like Israel and Turkey where teachers feel themselves pushed by religious pressure towards teaching biology through alternative subjects. Unimaginable in our culture here but it puts evolutionary understanding and its consequences under threat in these places.

There has always been much controversy surrounding Darwin’s theories about how mankind evolved, most particularly from religious quarters, right from the outset. It was because of this that a long time passed before he actually went ahead and published his ideas. An excellent series of programmes by Andrew Marr called ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’, shown earlier in the year illustrated the depth of the challenges; the reason behind these being a fascinating reflection of the beliefs of the times. And perhaps as important for us to understand as the theory itself.

But as the director of the Natural History Museum says here the evidence that has been collated in the museum provides a body of concise and concrete proof of the theory and the composition of life and how it has evolved. It has been intensely tested across many scientific disciplines and is now considered irrefutable law.

So he believes Darwin’s theory should always remain an essential part of any education. That it is vital for children to understand their scientific origins, if they are to go on to understand how our evolution impacts on the scientific and natural world. Their understanding will be the basis of them contributing to its perpetuation in the way they lead their lives on into the future.

You’ll find plenty of resources to help with that learning online, (this BBC site being one example)

And the Natural History Museum perhaps a good place to start.

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A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.