Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Carol Mullen, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Darlene Bruner, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Darlene Bruner, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Dana Zeidler, Ph.D.

Keywords

science curriculum, creationism, pseudoscience, science education, educational leadership

Abstract

Evolutionary theory in the scientific curricula of public education has been

scrutinized by religious societies for the better part of a century around the globe.

Although Darwin’s explanation of the mechanism of evolution—the process of natural

selection—is widely accepted by scientists in the United States and other industrialized

nations, the U.S. has lagged behind these other countries in accepting evolutionary theory

in public school curricula. The debate of what to include in textbooks and classroom

lessons is one of America’s most controversial issues. The creationist worldview of life’s

origins has been incorporated into science curriculum as a direct challenge to natural

selection and evolutionary theory, stretching the interpretation of the First Amendment

and the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution under the guise of academic

freedom. The debate has reached the U.S. Supreme Court on more than one occasion.

Each landmark case has resulted in the Court’s decision to keep public school science

courses free of theistic explanations of the origins of life or creation of species, most

specifically humankind. The battle has continued and gained momentum in recent years,

even in light of the Court’s decisions. The idea of intelligent design (ID) is the latest

attempt by creationists to explain the existence of life, and many state boards of

education and school districts throughout the country are considering the adoption of new

science curricula that include ID as an adequate alternative to evolutionary theory. In the

recent federal case

Kitzmiller v. The Dover Area School District Justice John E. Jones, III

ruled that ID was not a science at all, and instead was a religious belief violating

Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Intelligent design is considered by scientists to be pseudoscience posing as

scientific principle. The scientific perspective is that unsubstantiated pseudoscientific

principles create misconceptions and have a deleterious effect upon science education. It

is argued herein that educational leaders must play a role in preventing cases of

pseudoscience arising in public school curriculum, thus strengthening the ability of our

country to produce knowledgeable scientists.

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