Should Teachers Aim for Student Belief?: The Case of Evolution

The Evolution/Creationism-Intelligent Design controversy has bedeviled public school science education in the United States for nearly two centuries. On the scientific merits, the issue should have been resolved long ago. The fact that it hasn’t suggests that more is at stake than the scientific merits of the opposing views. In this talk I briefly review the history, argue that the controversy is best seen not just in scientific but also in broadly cultural terms, and that the educational issue is best resolved by focusing on student belief: what exactly should science teachers expect their students to believe? Along the way more general questions about the aims of education will be addressed.