Bio teacher defends evolution lessons

Evolution — the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth — has seldom been taught without controversy. Because it is part of the state-mandated curriculum and students must demonstrate their understanding of the concept on the end of course exam, all students are required to learn about it. Biology teacher Angela Feldbush tells her students every year that they cannot skip the section when they tell her evolution conflicts with their religious viewpoint.

“We don’t opt out of learning about science,” Feldbush said. “I’m not trying to teach them anything that’s contradictory to their religion, but if they have religious concerns they can talk to their own priest or minister. I’m only here to talk about science.”

Evolution is a big part of biology, but not everyone subscribes to the idea. For example, some Christians believe that the universe and living organisms originate from a divine creator, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution.

Some argue that if evolution is part of the curriculum, then creationism also should be taught, but Feldbush disagrees.

“Creationism is a religious belief,” she said. “You can’t teach a belief. You either believe or you don’t believe, but we’re not here to teach religion in any form. We’re only here to teach science.”

Senior Diana Sheedy says the school should also teach creationism to to show students what other people think.

“I think that they should teach creationism too,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of public policy that with religion that’s hard to talk about as well but if they offer one side. I think that they should offer different sides and let the students understand it themselves.”

The National Science Teachers Association says that “if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy they need.” Feldbush says in order to understand biology, students need to learn evolution.

“Evolution is really the central thread that holds all of biology together,” she said. “Without understanding evolution, you can’t understand how organisms relate to one another, how organisms change over time, how people got to be the way they are, and so if you don’t understand evolution there are just so many other aspects of biology that you’ll never completely understand.”

By Evy Guerra