An adjunct community college professor had a bit of a problem when it came time to teach evolution, according to certain sources:

Student Bryan Jaden Walker wrote on his blog, … that the professor “glossed over the scientific explanation very quickly (less than 20 seconds), then explained Creationism for about five minutes (5,000-year-old Earth, no evolution, etc).”

“Evolution was not taught at all in his class,” Weis said. “When he hit that unit, instead of discussing it himself he had a single slide that had both creationism and evolution. When I spoke up and asked him about it, he claimed there was no evidence for either, but they are just different world views.”


Walker complained to the Oklahoma City Community college director of science, Sonya Williams, and was put off by her (shall we presume that Sonya Williams is a creationist?).

Apparently, there was an internal investigation with no real outcome.

“We checked it out and admonished the professor to please follow curriculum protocols,” [OCCC spokesperson] Jordan said. “We give latitude. You’re allowed to teach however you want, but you do have to teach what’s on the syllabus, and that seems like what happened.”

The prof claims that Walker’s claims are inaccurate, even though it appears that other students have complained previously. In any event, Talkington essentially confesses to being a creationist who is teaching creationism:

“I simply acknowledged that there are other schools of thought. I did not teach creationism. I did not promote one view over another. I did not mention God or Christianity. I stayed within the bounds of what the college allows.”

Ooops. “I did not promote one view over the other”????? He did not promote Science over Creationism in a science class? And this was OK with Sonya Williams and the rest of them?

Sorry, but no.

Talkington claims that he is being repressed.

This particular college have earned an “F” rating in the past from the Fordham Foundation and the National Center for Science Education for their lousy treatment of science.

NOTE: Apparently the original newspaper article on which this blog post was based (silly me, relying on a news paper for information) was very flawed. vhutchison of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education has made a comment below giving some clarification.

But maybe the slack jawed yahoos who live in Oklahoma like this. There is some evidence:

Talkington, who is not teaching anywhere right now and doesn’t know if he will return to the classroom, said he thinks the case was blown out of proportion.

He said many students loved his class, pointing to students who rated him positively on websites such as RateMyProfessors.com.

Several on the site commented that Talkington was the best professor they’d had.

Talkington wouldn’t comment on his views.

“People are looking to debate this issue anyway,” he said. “I want to stay out of that debate.”

He enjoyed his tenure at OCCC, he said.

“I enjoyed what I did and enjoyed my interaction with the students. I’m disappointed that one student took it to that level of animosity.”

Source.

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    August 9, 2010

    “Talkington claims that he is being repressed.”

    Now we see the injustice inherent in the system. :)

    I’m willing to believe that the director of science sympathizes with this “teacher”, but it could be that she’s in over her head and was simply trying to ward off a firestorm of bad publicity for her department. I’ve had admins who don’t want to ever rock the boat on things, even when the vessel should have been torpedoed.

  2. #2 CherryBomb
    August 9, 2010

    Realizing that you are smarter than your professor, and actually KNOWING this is true, is almost as good as sex.

  3. #3 Doug
    August 9, 2010

    How in the world can you teach biology without talking about evolution? It’s like trying to teach meteorology without talking about air.

  4. #4 Larian LeQuella
    August 9, 2010

    He said many students loved his class, pointing to students who rated him positively on websites such as RateMyProfessors.com.

    Well, considering the depth of that professor’s intellect, I supose you can walk in on any test cold, and get an easy A. I figure that the majority of students at OCCC are lazy and unfit for a real education if that is their attitude.

    Bryan, I wish you the best of luck getting out of that craptastic school and someplace where there is at least a hint of reality.

  5. #5 vhutchison
    August 9, 2010

    (1)The article in The Oklahoman, to which this post refers, is not bad overall for this very conservative newspaper. For the entire article go here: http://www.newsok.com/article/3483388 .

    (2) The college did not get an F from Fordham Foundation and NCSE, the State did, primarily because the State teaching standards do not mention the word ‘evolution,’ for political reasons. Also the ratings were for public elementary and secondary schools, not colleges! If the Oklahoma standards are really analyzed, the principles of evolution are there and, if followed, students are taught the principles of evolution. Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE, http://www.oklascience.org ) offers a teachers’ workshop each year in the teaching of evolution where the state teaching standards are used to demonstrate that evolutionary principles are required in public schools. The Fordham Foundation and NCSE apparently only looked for the word ‘evolution.’

    (3) The regular full-time faculty at Oklahoma City Community College is well-trained and supports the teaching of evolution. The teacher involved in this item was a temporary adjunct that only taught part-time. He was obviously not properly vetted when hired. The faculty and admin at OCCC have learned their lesson and, hopefully, this will serve as a warning to other schools when hiring temporary faculty.

  6. #6 cgauthier
    August 9, 2010

    But maybe the slack jawed yahoos who live in Oklahoma like this.

    As an Oklahoman, I’m sorry to say you’re right. This place feels like a zombie movie, people stumbling about and into things and each other, drooling and spouting pious gibberish. I feel that way and I was raised here. How anyone less experienced can walk off the plane here and fight the urge not to book another one out, immediately, is beyond me.

  7. #7 Omega Centauri
    August 9, 2010

    Surprising, I feel sympathy for Talkington -despite despising creationists in general. It sounds like a case of letting his mental weakness get the better of him for five minutes, and getting canned because of it. I’d hate to think that any teacher is 5 minutes of indiscretion away from being let go. Now, if he was told to quit, and kept it up, that is a different case.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2010

    Omega, I see your point, but a biology teacher teaching an intro biology class does not gloss evolution and put creationism on ANY kind of footing as a matter of indiscretion. That is roughly like a surgeon using a can opener instead of a scalpel for the initial incision. Or a fire fighter using gasoline instead of water to put out a fire. Or a … well, you get the point.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2010

    vhutchison, thanks for the clarifications!

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2010

    Piltdown, I’m pretty sure that if I was in charge of a school and I had a teacher say that, there would be some retraining, and possibly replacement.

    The teacher is an authority figure to the students. To me, there is very little difference between a teacher wearing a cross while teaching evolution, a teacher rolling his or her eyes while teaching evolution, a teacher saying that ID is an alternative theory and here’s a URL to check it out, and a teacher saying s/he is mandated to teach this and it’s “ok to not believe it.”

    A teacher who did any of those things out of ignorance can be retrained. A teacher who does any of these things thoughtfully should not be in the classroom.

    Our teacher went over the chapter on evolution and we went over the questions and answers, but we were never tested on evolution questions in that class.

    A simple way to handle the situation without causing a fuss.

    Well, that’s different. If the teacher goes over the stuff in the book and never tests the students o the material, that teacher should be fired summarily and not given a good recommendation.

  11. #11 dean
    August 9, 2010

    Piltdown man, your teacher sucked as much as the clown who was the subject of this story. he (or she) gives the same message: evolution is a joke, and there is no reason to spend the time understanding it (that’s backed up by the lack of testing). the difference is in presentation only, not message.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2010

    Potential trouble from parents (or students) is not a reason to define or change contents or pedagogy. In fact, it is simply unprofessional to do so. This has nothing to do with indoctrination. The only indoctrination going on here is that coming from home and church regarding replacing science and scholarship with religion.

    Greg, you cannot fire a teacher for stating that evolution is not an absolute undeniable, infallible fact. If you do, then I hope you have a good lawyer. Teaching evolution is one thing, but teaching it as absolute fact with no alternatives is completely different.

    Yes, I understand that you are asking teachers to “teach the controversy” … and yes, you are quite wrong on this ethically, morally, professionally and …. wait for it …. legally. You lost that battle in Dover.

    You live up to your name, Piltdown man.

  13. #13 westie
    August 9, 2010

    Simple enough and the teacher, the school, and the state will never know the difference as long as the students who do this keep their mouth closed until after school.

    Oh brilliant.

  14. #14 Anne H
    August 10, 2010

    @Piltdown Man

    Evolution is a fact and a theory

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

  15. #15 MacTurk
    August 10, 2010

    To Piltdown man, a couple of points.
    First, if you are a creationist, can I congratulate you on your heroic maintenance of ignorance in the face of all the evidence?
    Second, given that you have chosen to name yourself after a quickly rooted-out hoax in the field of anthropology, is this some Freudian acknowledgment of the hoax you are trying to perpetuate?

    Curious meerkats would like to know.

  16. #16 Ray Ingles
    August 10, 2010

    Piltdown Man, I have a question that I’ve asked creationists before, and never gotten a good answer. I’m hoping you can help me out.

    Finding oil is a very high-stakes issue for oil companies. Trillions of dollars are riding on it. When they look for the most likely spots to drill, do they use Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?

    If the Earth is only 6,000 years old, where did the oil come from? If created in the ground, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it did form from plankton, but 10,000 times faster than any chemist thinks it could in those conditions? A young Earth and a Flood would imply some interesting questions to ask, some extremely valuable research programs to start. How come nobody’s actually pursuing such research programs?

    Why don’t creationists put together an investment fund, venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If “Flood geology” is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Why is no one doing this?

  17. #17 Nagisa
    August 10, 2010

    I took Intro to Biology (for majors) twice. The first was at Liberty University. Evolution was covered. Ironically, creationism was not (that was a separate pass/fail class–rather a joke since you only needed to show up for multiple-choice exams, but I assume it wasn’t a real course for accreditation purposes). Perhaps they teach it in courses meant for non-majors/non-honor students–I wouldn’t know.

    It was, of course, understood that the professor and university did not really believe in evolution, but he nevertheless taught the book (which was a regular, mainstream college textbook). It was kind of tragic watching the professor, as I could tell he was struggling between what the evidence indicated and his beliefs (such as admitting that, yes species can change into other species as in this certain example but nonetheless…). I majored in English so while essays by Gould and other scientists about evolution were assigned reading in Advanced Expository Writing it didn’t elsewise come up. Apart from the evolution of languages in various linguistic courses, which was not questioned there.

    I later re-took the course at Montgomery College because once, quite frankly, was not enough for me to truly grasp the the complexities of cellular respiration. While the professor was a Christian, he stated up front that evolution was a fact and there would be no debate in the course from those who object. I suppose he would describe himself as a theistic evolution, but the topic never really came up. A similar situation happened in the Astronomy course I took.

    To be honest, I don’t think the religious beliefs of the professor matter that much though. I learned more about evolution by reading various journal articles for fun than I did by reading Cambell’s Biology. I’m a firm believer that no one can teach you anything–you have to learn it for yourself. Curiosity is the best teacher and guide.

  18. #18 Alex McKenna
    August 10, 2010

    Yes Piltdown – there will always be stupid people who like to be told what to beleive. Flat earthers. People who are told music is irreligious, and art, and even dancing, and believe what they are told by the local witch-doctor. People should cover the faces, heads, Kill animals the cruel way. Burn witches. Tell people they are possessed by spirits. People who choose not to think for themselves, basically.
    The evidence for evolution grows every day. Being a doubter is healthy of course, but when the evidence is overwhelming for something, it becomes as factual as anything CAN be.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    August 10, 2010

    We believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old based on geneology.

    Yeah but, you are supposed to use geOLOGY for that not geNEOLOGY.

  20. #20 MarioneTTe
    August 10, 2010

    How were Peppered Moths fake? They showed the general idea of what evolution is: those individuals in a species most fit to survive are more likely to pass on their genetic material.

    Peppered Moths showed that quite well, as the white-base moths were more common until the soot blanketed their habitats, at which point the gray-based moths became more populous.

    The reason behind this? Until the soot began to cover everything, the gray-based moths were easier to see by birds, but after, the white-based moths were.

    Evolution is quite a bit more complex than that, but going in to the full depth of it is quite beyond the scope of a single comment, let along a single blog post or even a single textbook.

    As for Piltdown Man? The only people I see discussing that any more are those who believe in creationism. Those who study evolution have brushed it off as a hoax long ago.

    As for transitional fossils, every fossil is transitional. You and I are transitional. Evolution does not stop, and we Humans — homo sapians — are not the end-point of evolution. The Humans in 10,000 years will be as different from us as we are from the Humans of 10,000 years’ past. Dolphins and octopi are becoming significantly smarter with each passing generation, as are other species (including various types of simians). Who is to say that, in 10,000 years, our descendants won’t be having a beer with the descendants of a modern-day dolphin and octopus?

    Evolution is fact. The theory, scientific theory, is the exact method of how it works. It is the same as how gravity is a fact, but the theory of gravity is how it works.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    August 10, 2010

    Humans are not any different right now than they were the day Adam was made over 6500 years ago.

    I agree. If Adam is, say, the ice man they pulled out of the alps a few years back. He’s almost that old.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    August 10, 2010

    I doubt if Adam will ever be found. his bones have all but rooted by now

    I think they rooted too! See:

    http://gregladen.com/wordpress/wp-content/pdf/Laden_Wrangham_Roots.pdf

    The alps? He lived in what would be known as the Iraq/Iran area today. You need to read more.

    Read this: http://tinyurl.com/38mbt4

    Now that you mention that adam’s remains were on the ark, this is all coming together….

  23. #23 Nagisa
    August 11, 2010

    “Octopi getting smarter every generation? Okay. How is that evolution? When you see an octopus develop the ability to crawl out of the water, grow feathers and fly around let me know. That’s evolution.”

    See Lenski’s E. coli long-term evolution experiment…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

  24. #24 MacTurk
    August 11, 2010

    “We believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old based on geneology”, he said. So let us just ignore the evidence from Carbon Dating, Dendrochronology, Geology, Zircons, Palaeontology, etc(possibly because we cannot understand it), and let us rely on Geneology?

    Basically, “we” will ignore everything that Science has to say about the age of the Universe(about 13.5 billion years), the galaxy we live in(younger), and the planet we live on(4.5 billion years), and instead, rely on a series of “X begat Y, who begat Z…”? And you think this is logical or sustainable? You wonder why educated people do not take you seriously? It is because it is impossible to take any of this seriously. I would not accept this level of evidence or argument from a nine-year old child.

    “When you see an octopus develop the ability to crawl out of the water, grow feathers and fly around, let me know. That is evolution”. No, that is not evolution, that is just stupid. It is basically the silly “crocoduck” argument put forward by Ray Comfort and other charlatans.

    “It is widely believed the Garden of Eden was in modern-day Iraq”. Really? Widely believed by which reality-challenged idiots? It was widely believed that little green men lived on Mars. We now know that this is not true. It is widely believed that a lottery ticket is a good investment. Anyone with any knowledge of probability theory/statistics knows this is not true. Saying that something is widely believed proves nothing.

    Piltdown man was a fake, and was proved to be a fake by other scientists. Are you willing to submit your sky god myth to the same degree of rigorous analysis?

    And evolution is a fact. The Theory of Evolution, like the Theory of Gravity or The Theory of Plate Tectonics simply means that it is the highest level of construct in that field. A scientific theory (also called an empirical theory) comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena(with thanks to wikipedia). Alternatively, a scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing.

    While any Theory can be disproved by facts, none can be disproved by appeals to the authority of one minor tribe’s multi-authored victory propaganda. Present facts and we can argue. Present idiocy, and you will get no respect at all.

  25. #25 DuWayne
    August 11, 2010

    I suppose it was Satan who put the vestigial legs in whale blubber too? What other evidence was planted by the devil?

    I am genuinely curious.

    (Although I am mostly in it for the amusement factor. GF and I are getting quite the chuckle out of your rhetoric)

  26. #26 DuWayne
    August 11, 2010

    Were you perchance homeschooled?

  27. #27 BrianX
    August 11, 2010

    PDM:

    Are you a blinkered idiot, or just a troll?

  28. #28 MacTurk
    August 12, 2010

    To Piltdown man who says “No evolution is not a fact. If it is, prove it”. The onus is on you to disprove it, and you are not doing very well. When there is a scientific Theory, highest level of construct in a given field of knowledge, etc, etc, be it the Theory of Gravity, Germ Theory, Sex Theory or Evolution, which has been tested again and again, the onus is on you to provide facts and replicable results which will give a grounding to you alternative theory. So far, all you have given the world is a series of unsupported assertions. And please note that continuous repetition does make your unsupported statements any more valid.

    Thankfully I do not, nor does any educated person, rely only on Carbon dating, which is only useful in the context of a period of approximately 50,000 years. There are numerous other methods of dating the age of the Earth and the Universe. There are at least 40 radiometric methods, plus ice-cores, dendrochronology, cosmology, the geological column, etc. Carbon dating is good for making the basic point that the “Young Earth” creationist view is untenable.

    The Ginkgo(Ginkgo bilobis) is a perfect example of artificial selection by humans. It was protected by humans in China and Japan, to the extent that it has, as a species, outlived its natural rivals and predators. If there is no selection pressure, there is little evolution, as there is no need for it. The tree was and is prized for its fire-retardant properties, its nuts and leaves.

    “Peppered Moths were a fake”? Who faked them? How could they have done this? And most importantly, why? Also, some evidence for the assertion would be really welcome. Please provide references for your assertions.

    As for your assertion that evolution was invented by the devil, oh dear. You really are at the hands clamped over ears, singing “lalalalalalalala” stage are you not?

    Lastly, I wrote that “Piltdown man was a fake, and was proved to be a fake by other scientists. Are you willing to submit your sky god myth to the same degree of rigorous analysis?”. I gather from your evasive nonsense that the answer is “No”?

  29. #29 MacTurk
    August 12, 2010

    And again; OOOOPPPPPS!
    It should have been “…continuous repetition does NOT make your unsupported statements any more valid”.

  30. #30 DuWayne
    August 12, 2010

    I learned more on my own after school than I learned in school.

    Including apparently, that legs are organs which, even completely covered over by blubber – manifest only as part of the skeletal structure, are useful. I mean I suppose they might be useful one day, should the whales walk back out of the ocean, but I sincerely doubt it.

    There are things you can learn on your own that is not indoctrinaed, oops, I mean taught in school.

    I’m well aware, as I am a high school dropout and learned about evolution and many other interesting things on my own. I also became rather well versed in English, though I do have to thank my primary school teachers for some of that.

    The alternative to evolution is one of many things.

    Apparently the English language is another.

    An aside, “Satan did it,” is not really an alternative to evolution.

    By the way, creationism is taught in most Southern Baptist churches. Kids are taught to ignore evolution in textbooks.

    No…Fucking…Way!!11! Kind of like they are taught the same thing in Nazarene, United Methodist, Assemblies of God and virtually every other evangelical church in the U.S. I am fucking shocked and was completely unaware.

    Parents do know what schools are teaching their kids and will correct that child if they think the book is wrong. Remember that.

    When you know as many science educators as I do, it is absolutely impossible to forget how much religious parents try to fuck up their children’s educations. Given the changes happening in this country, I fear for their future prospects, should they fail to transcend the ignorance of their parents. As our economy becomes increasingly based on science and technology, that kind of ignorance will damn such kids – right here, right now.

    I remember all too well, all too often. Actually caring about children, I remember and I am saddened by the abusive brainwashing being foisted on innocents.

    BrainX –

    I rather assume both.

  31. #31 Stephanie Z
    August 12, 2010

    Final answer.

    Yeah, ’cause that’s how it works.

  32. #32 Greg Laden
    August 12, 2010

    I think you mean moth. Peppered moth.

  33. #33 MacTurk
    August 13, 2010

    Piltdown man said “Nevertheless … Evolution is a myth.
    Final answer”.

    That is your final response? No evidence, no facts, no answers? You have not dignified any of the people who questioned your assertions with a coherent answer.

    Your only argument is basically “It is because I say it is. I say it is because it is”.

    I have to repeat that repetition does NOT increase the the veracity of your arguments. And none of your arguments have risen above the level of a playground fight in primary school.

    They have really done a job on what is left of your brain, have they not?

    Religion as brain killer.

    I am sad, because there is a potentially useful human mind going to waste here.

    As for your comment about Southern Baptist churches “..creationism is taught in most Southern Baptist churches. Kids are taught to ignore evolution in textbooks. Parents do know what schools are teaching their kids and will correct that child if they think the book is wrong”, how wonderful. Sabotaging your own children’s future chances. And people wonder why America is sliding down the international education rankings?

    The fundy idiots do not need enemies, they screw themselves up most excellently without any outside assistance.

    Happily, the section of the American which classifies themselves as having “No Religion” is increasing all the time.

Current ye@r *