Tennessee Legislators Offer Advice on How to Teach "Critical Thinking" in Public School Science Classes


Is this what Tennessee legislators think is controversial?

The House and Senate of Tennessee passed legislation that offers their guidance to the Volunteer State's public school science teachers on how to teach science. In the just passed bill [PDF], the legislators find:

(1) An important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to becoming intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens;
(2) The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy….

Hmmm. What kind of scientific controversy might concern the solons of Tennessee? Are they perhaps worried that high school biology teachers might skimp in their presentations about the RNA world hypothesis for the origin of life on earth?

And why are the legislators particularly concerned about the development of critical thinking skills in science classrooms? Surely such skills could be usefully encouraged in history and political science classes too. Applying such critical thinking to politics might suggest that Tennessee legislators are not really all that worried about the paucity of critical thinking in public school science classes. In fact, critical thinking suggests that the legislators are really concerned about smuggling anti-science views (a.k.a. fundamentalist Christian dogma) into science classrooms.

Tennessee's governor could still veto this bill.

Go here for my column, "Evolution in the Blackboard Jungle," for my solution to this "controversy."