Respectful Insolence

How did I miss this contest?

Sorry I’m a bit late on this. (Yes, I know that Tara and John pimped this contest nearly a month ago, but somehow it slipped by me to mention it myself; that is, until Skepchick reminded me of it as I caught up on my blog reading over the weekend.

If you’ve read my Medicine and Evolution series, you’ll know I’d be interested in this contest. From the Alliance for Science, it is an essay contest for high school students. The topic is Why would I want my doctor to have studied evolution? They’re asking for an essay of 1,000 words or less, and the due date is March 31. Official rules are here.

First prize for students is $300 and a subscription to Seed Magazine, and the first prize for teachers includes $250 for laboratory equipment plus some interesting teaching materials on evolution–plus the subscription to Seed Magazine.

This is a great way to try to get those future pre-meds before they even enter college. Evolutionary theory is becoming more and more important in medicine, the claims of evolution-ignorant physicians like Dr. David Cook and Dr. Michael Egnor not withstanding, and this needs to be communicated.

My main concern is that, sadly, in all too many parts of the country, science teachers could get into serious trouble for having their classes participate in this contest, which makes me wonder just how many entries this contest will get. I hope I’m wrong, but I can imagine what would happen if a teacher in the Bible belt tried to get his or her class to enter the contest.

Comments

  1. #1 Infophile
    March 5, 2007

    I went to school in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, a pretty well-off and not-too-religious area. Despite this, my freshman biology teacher made a point of mentioning that she wouldn’t be teaching evolution because “other teachers had gotten in trouble for it.” I’m not sure if other teachers had actually gotten in trouble for it (if they had, they shouldn’t have), or it might have been that she didn’t believe in it herself.

    Granted, if she didn’t, it’s hard to see how she could have become a biology teacher, but maybe she just got all her instruction before the importance of evolution to biology was fully appreciated.

  2. #2 Katie
    March 5, 2007

    You went to school with teachers who were educated before 1859? *scowl*

    My 9th grade biology teacher thought the tornado-in-a-junkyard analogy was a good argument. How and why she became a biology teacher is a total mystery to me, and the class was horrendous, nothing but rote memorization, no connections and no overarching concepts. (This was in about 1997, but it was also in Redneckville, Ohio.) Who was it that said biology without evolution is stamp collecting?

    I’m actually not sure how my interest in biology survived my education.

  3. #3 Infophile
    March 5, 2007

    Maybe she slept through those parts of classes. Or, more likely, she just didn’t have the backbone to teach good science or didn’t believe it herself. One other teacher at that school actually taught evolution as accepted fact with no complaints or trouble, so the school wasn’t actually doing anything wrong in this matter, just that one teacher.

  4. #4 Andy
    March 5, 2007

    If the contest was open to Canadian students and was worth more money I’d enter myself.

    Noteworthy: “Why would I want my doctor to have *studied* evolution?”

    Notice that it is “have studied” and not “believe in” evolution. It’s hard to imagine that a doctor could have made it through high school, undergrad, and med school, without ever having studied evolution in one way or another. I bet Dr. Cook et al have studied evolution; from what I remember it only caused him to become disillusioned with his professors (or something like that).

    I think a better way of wording the topic would be: “Why would I want my doctor to *understand* the theory of evolution and its implications?”

    Heck, why stop at doctors? Everyone short of the retarded should know and understand this stuff, it’s far too important.

  5. #5 natural cynic
    March 6, 2007

    Everyone short of the retarded should know and understand this stuff[evolution]

    So politicians are off the hook?

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