Education or Indoctrination?
Analysis of Textbooks in Alabama

III. Selected Statements from Current Science Textbooks

D. Elementary Science

Destinations in Science, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1995.

Not a good "hands-on" series. There is so much marketing fluff that the science core could easily get lost.

I,F "And in another million years, like these we'll be extinct, my dears!" (Grade II, p. A5)

F "Humans are members of the group of animals known as primates, which also includes monkeys and apes. One of the most useful physical adaptations primates have is their thumbs." (Grade IV, p. A46) This quote is part of a fifteen page section dealing with human adaptations. A large adaptation such as a thumb is strictly a naturalistic, evolutionary concept.

F "After the earth began to take form, it was hundreds of millions of years before the first life evolved. About 3,500 million years ago the first cells appeared. Millions of years later fungi and algae evolved. Then organisms such as jellyfish and sponges appeared." (Grade VI, p. E33)

F "During the Cenozoic Era... Some animals, such as the wooly mammoth, became extinct. Insects and flowering plants continued to be abundant. During this era, the first humans appeared." (Grade VI, p. E35)

Discover the Wonder, Scott, Foresman and Company, 1996.

An uninspiring series, weak on "hands-on", and heavy on distracting supplementary materials.

F,E "Life evolved in the ocean during Precambrian time.... The Paleozoic Era began when the first complex animals appeared about 570 million years ago... Fish were the first vertebrates - animals with backbones - to evolve... But two other types of vertebrates that evolved during the Mesozoic Era - birds and mammals - survived... But as the mammals continued to evolve, almost all began giving birth to live babies...By the middle of the Cenozoic Era, temperatures warmed. The first tigers and apes appeared, along with rodents. Near the end of the era humans evolved." (Grade VI, pp. C14-C19) The 570 million years for the start of the Cambrian is incorrect. Thanks to zircon dating, "... virtually everyone agrees that the Cambrian started almost exactly 543 Million years ago." (Evolution's Big Bang, Time, December 4, 1995, p. 70)

Discovery Works, Silver Burdett Ginn, Inc., 1996.

Much science is lost in the fluff. Weak with respect to "hands-on" and science processes.

F "Your Family Tree" This is the title for a section comparing humans with a bird, wolf, dolphin, and bat. The section concludes with the statement: "You have a larger family than you probably realized!" (Grade VI, p. D66)

P "Suppose that you've discovered evidence that the imaginary organism gagaga evolved from a three-toed organism to a hooved organism. 'Create' fossil evidence for how this might have occurred." (Grade VI, p. D79) This exercise forces student to "create" data to fit a preconceived idea. Students are thus expected to practice a process which is the exact opposite of the correct process for developing ideas out of existing data.

Science Anytime, Harcourt Brace, 1995.

Another commercial set of "fluff" books with space devoted to items like aboriginal stories instead of science. Does not meet the Course of Study standards for "hands-on" and science processes.

F Chart with following statements: First fish evolve...First land plants evolve...First forests evolve...First insects, sharks and amphibians evolve...First cone-bearing plants evolve...First dinosaurs and mammals evolve...first birds evolve...First flowering plants evolve...Modern humans evolve." (Grade IV, pp. D70 - D71)

F "The first ancestor of the horse evolved about 50 million years ago." (Grade IV, p. D75)

F "How do scientists know that organisms change over time?" (Grade IV, p. D75) This statement would not be objectionable if it read, "Why do scientists assume that organisms change over time?"

F "But the organisms that are so familiar to us are really just the 'latest model' of earlier organisms." (Grade VI, p. B66)

F "Over million of years, thousands of species have evolved into the modern species of today." (Grade VI, p. 74)

Science for Life and Living, BSCS, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1992.

This is a K-6 program that attempts to integrate science, technology, and health. In this program the teacher is a facilitator, and the major goal is to teach group skills. The scientific content is minimal. The one major concept that is stressed is "change". This program is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Educational Philosophy "Students practice communication techniques that help them express their feelings and opinions assertively." (Implementation Guide, p. 2.47)

Educational Philosophy "What the Teacher Does...Encourages the students to work together without direct instruction from the teacher." (Implementation Guide, p. BLM IG-18)

Educational Philosophy "The philosophy of evaluation in Science for Life and Living goes hand in hand with the program's philosophy of learning: students construct their knowledge and skills over time. Therefore, it is important that students have bench marks over time from which to measure what they understand or do not understand, can or cannot do, without the sense of passing or failing." (Implementation Guide, p. 2.48)

I "Understanding that everyone has feelings and that one's feelings are okay leads to self-acceptance. In this lesson, children will make masks to show different feelings, and they will act out those feelings. Then, children will consider some ways to deal with feelings they do not like." (Teacher's Edition, Awareness of Myself and My World, level K, p.55) This does not belong in a science class. It could open up emotional areas a classroom teacher is not equipped to deal with.

Science Place, Scholastic Inc., 1995.

One of the best elementary programs of the traditional type. The texts are interesting, readable, and have excellent illustrations. Strong supplementary reading materials are included. However, the evolution section in the Grade 5 text assumes and teaches naturalistic origins as fact. It also engages students in what amounts to fantasy and science fiction.

P "Choose two small wetland inhabitants - a duck and a turtle, or a dragonfly and a water rat - and imagine they have each evolved into a species that can survive in the new environment. Describe each new species, and add the animals to your drawing." (Grade 5, p. 54) This is an exercise in fantasy. It gives students the impression that the progress of evolution is predictable - very bad science.

P "Your team of scientists has been hired by a movie studio. The studio is making a science fiction film that takes place one million years in the future. Your team's job is to select a community of organisms and redesign them to show how they might change in the next one million years." (Grade 5, p. 58) Again, bad science.

P "Work with your team to design a community of future organisms. List all the features that will have changed on these organisms over the next million years. Explain why they will have changed." (Grade 5, p.62) In the text students are taught that evolution proceeds because of chance mutations and are not designed. Yet here they are expected to use intelligent design to evolve their organisms. You cannot have it both ways.

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Copyright © 1995 Norris Anderson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 12.22.95