Darwin vs. Darwin

The Incoherent "Science" of the National Science Teaching Association


In 1944, the American Council of Science Teachers and the American Science Teachers Association merged to become the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). With a membership of about 55,000 (not limited to science teachers), NSTA is the world's largest science education advocacy organization. An affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with an annual budget of over $26 million, it employs about 100 full-time staff at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. In 2019, it changed its name to the National Science Teaching Association, as this "better reflects the numerous stakeholders in the K–16 science teaching community."

Its mission is "to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all." It holds conferences, offers professional development, publishes journals and position statements, and lobbies Congress on science education-related legislation and other issues.

Reason for Surveillance:

To be sure, a forum for teachers to collaborate could—and perhaps in some ways does—benefit science education, but the NSTA is undermining excellence in education on two fronts. First, it has diluted its mission by adding political-correctness advocacy to its docket. Among its 38 position statements are missives on "Gender Equity in Science Education," "Multicultural Science Education," and "Poverty," as if those have anything to do with the empirical sciences, and its longwinded statement on "Climate Science" doubles down on the "overwhelming scientific consensus" while psychologizing alternative positions as "cognitive biases" related to "one's faith, family, and personal emotional experiences."

Second, regarding evolution, it has contorted the very meaning of critical thinking into its exact opposite. Efforts to "'teach the controversy' or present 'strengths and weaknesses of evolution'" amount to "twisting and abusing core pedagogical principles" and "open[ing] science classroom doors to non-science."

So gender equity and multiculturalism are "science," but weighing the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory is "non-science." Got that?

Most Recent Offense:

In subsequent editions of The Origin, Darwin himself responded carefully to his critics and added, "I look with confidence to the future, to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality." Attorney Herman Bouma thought Darwin had provided us with a good example of respectful engagement with criticism, and so he submitted a proposal to speak on that topic at the NSTA 2019 national conference. His talk was approved months in advance and scheduled for 8:00 am on April 14, the final day of the conference.

At about 7:40 am, as Bouma was setting up his equipment, three NSTA officials came in and said his presentation had been cancelled. Someone had contacted the NSTA the prior evening, he was told, whereupon NSTA officials had consulted the website for his nonprofit, the National Association for Objectivity in Science, and deemed it "fake science." Beyond relating those details, they were "not at liberty" to discuss the cancellation. The officials then moved to the door to prevent anyone from entering, and four security guards arrived to ensure that Bouma left the room. An older gentleman, unaccustomed to being manhandled, Bouma was flabbergasted. "It was like the Darwinian Gestapo," he said.

He requested a follow-up meeting, but NSTA executive director David Evans said no, noting, "We firmly oppose advising teachers to 'teach the controversy' regarding evolution by natural selection, as there is no scientific controversy."

So now, Darwin's theory is "science," but Darwin's engagement with criticism is "non-science." And with presumably straight faces, they call this "excellence and innovation." This double-minded activism is an Orwellian innovation that science would be better off without.

 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #51, Winter 2019 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo51/darwin-vs-darwin


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