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experts comment on MORI poll on the teaching of creationism in schools

The poll of primary and secondary school teachers found that nearly half disagree with the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in science lessons in England and Wales, rising to two out of three among teachers who specialise in science.

Prof Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, said:

“Creationism, as an alternative to the evolution of species, has long been thoroughly discredited by rigorous analysis of data. Of course, if a pupil raises it as a hypothesis then a brief discussion as to why creationism is wrong might be appropriate as part of an education in intellectual integrity and rational thought. But it would undermine any educational system to purposefully teach discredited ideas which are now only perpetuated through ignorance or flawed thinking – one might as well teach astrology, flat earthism, alchemy or a geocentric universe.”

Phil Willis MP, Chair of Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee, said:

“I very much welcome the MORI findings. The teaching of creationism or intelligent design which is completely unsupportable as a scientific theory has no place in a science curriculum.

“At a time when the teaching of science has never had a more significant rationale in our schools and to our nation it would be unforgivable to see valuable teaching time taken up teaching what amounts to a belief system.

“Whilst pupils should never have their views or questions dismissed without reason – there are ample opportunities elsewhere in the curriculum to discuss belief rather than scientific theory. Science teachers should simply explain why evidence is crucial to good scientific practice.”

Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London, said:

“This Mori poll, showing that the majority of teachers of science do not support the teaching of creationism but do support discussing it, just proves that science teachers in the UK have a good deal of common sense. I’m glad that they feel sufficiently confident in their science to be able to engage young people’s views as they are raised.”

Prof Michael Reiss, Professor of Science Education, University of London, said:

“School science lessons provide wonderful opportunities for students of all ages to be introduced to scientific thinking about the origins of the universe and evolution of life. At the same time, some students have creationist beliefs. The task of those who teach science is then to teach the science but to treat such students with respect. Good science teaching may therefore involve discussing creationism or Intelligent Design without presenting such ideas to students as if they were supported by science.”

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