Thursday, April 15, 2010

Teacher Resigns in Connecticut

A school teacher in Connecticut, Mark Tangarone, has resigned his position, effective at the end of the year, rather than retire in two years, as was his plan. Why, you ask? As Patricia Gay writes in the Weston Forum:
Mr. Tangarone, a 17-year veteran of the Weston school system, claims that a program he wanted to teach about Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln was rejected by the school administration because it involved teaching evolution — the scientific theory that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor.

“I find it hard to believe that in this day and age that a teacher such as myself can be ordered to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s work and the theory of evolution,” he said.
The response of the school administrator, Mark Ribbens, is astounding:
“While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life. I could anticipate that a number of our parents might object to this topic as part of a TAG project, and further, parents who would object if evolution was part of a presentation by a student to students who do not participate in the TAG program.”
Philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life? If it is a scientifically satisfactory explanation for the diversity of life, and it is being taught as science, what difference does it make how philosophically unsatisfactory it is? Is that how we are to treat all scientific disciplines? There are, doubtless, those who would treat modern astronomy's explanation of the origins of the cosmos as "philosophically unsatisfactory." Should we not teach it on that basis? Should we not teach modern geology? It conflicts with flood geology, which many people find philosophically satisfactory, even if it has no scientific merit.

Those who let philosophical predilections hijack their duty to teach good science have no business in the education field and should step down or, as in the case of Don McLeroy, be voted out of office.

Hat tip to BioLogos.

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  1. Good philosophy has everything to do with how and what we teach.

    Without proper philosophical underpinnings, there is no way to really understand what we learn from the physical sciences.

    Science without philosophy is meaningless.

  2. Yes but if we decline to teach something that is one of the cornerstones of the biological sciences because we might have philosophical disagreements with it, we do nobody any favors and compromise our integrity as scientists and teachers.