Creationism school wants to offer master’s degrees

December 15, 2007

If the venerable, old and wrong Institute for Creation Research hoped to sneak through their request to grant graduate science degrees in creationism, they are disappointed this morning. The Dallas Morning News exposed their plans on the front page: “Creation college seeks state’s OK; Dallas school plans master’s in science education, fueling debate over teaching evolution.”

To be more accurate, the headline should have said “fueling debate over teaching creationism,” since that’s where the controversy lies.

Also see the story in the Austin American-Statesman. (Update 12/19/2007 — see these posts, too: Lack of resources; Bending science to keep religion rigid.)

Steve Benson cartoon from 2004, creationists Cartoon by Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic, 2004; via Panda’s Thumb

It’s scary to think people can be granted a degree in lying to innocent children, and that it would be counted as a factor in favor of their teaching, instead of as a problem to be overcome like a bad background report.

But ICR was granting degrees in California. They hope to expand their sales in Texas, closer to the Bible Belt’s buckle.

A state advisory group gave its approval Friday; now the final say rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which will consider the request next month.

How will the state’s serious higher education institutions respond? What should Texas education officials do? It’s a difficult question, really. Generally states allow any institution that gets accreditation to grant degrees. ICR was denied accreditation in California, but set up a separate accrediting company for Bible colleges and religiously affiliated schools. When the U.S. Department of Education authorized that accrediting association as acceptable for Pell Grant and Stafford Grant purposes, California’s ability to stop the madness was limited. Texas allows degrees for colleges that teach chiropractic medicine, and there are probably several other degree granting programs that would raise eyebrows of rational people, were they better known.

“It just seems odd to license an organization to offer a degree in science when they’re not teaching science,” Mr. [Dan] Quinn [of the Texas Freedom Network] said.

“What we’re seeing here is another example of how Texas is becoming the central state in efforts by creationists to undermine science education, especially the teaching of evolution.”

A group of educators and officials from the state Coordinating Board visited the campus in November and met with faculty members. The group found that the institute offered a standard science education curriculum that would prepare them to take state licensure exams, said Glenda Barron, an associate commissioner of the board.

Dr. Barron said the program was held to the same standards that any other college would have to meet.

“The master’s in science education, we see those frequently,” she said. “What’s different – and what’s got everybody’s attention – is the name of the institution.”

No, it’s not the name of the institution that worries us — it’s their history of defending buncombe, hoaxes and falsehoods as science, detracting from the education of science in a major way.

Science education in the U.S. is under assault. ICR is asking Texas to surrender the nation’s future and accept the ICR’s white flag of ignorance as the state’s own. It is unclear to me whether the state may refuse to do that, though it would be the moral thing to do to refuse.

See also:

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The Story of Stuff

December 15, 2007

How many different lesson plans can you get from this video? How about from this video with the add-ons?

Vodpod videos no longer available. from

posted with vodpod
You can see a higher quality version at Will Brehm’s “Story of Stuff” website.

The site offers a lot. E-mail updates on issues, cheap DVDs of the movie ($10.00 each for the first 10, $9.00 each for the next 10 . . . you may want to get a copy for each social studies classroom), background stories to the movie, story of Annie Leonard, background sheets, lists of organizations working on the issues and reading lists and more. I found no lesson plans, but you can surely cobble one together for an hour class, with 20 minutes taken up by the film. Plus you can download the movie, for free.

Go noodle around the site: There are lots of possibilities for student projects, student discussions, in-class exercises, homework, and fun.

This movie details, quickly and with good humor, the economics of recycling, the economics of waste disposal, and the economics of production. This provides a great gateway to talk about civics and government, and how to make things happen like garbage collection and recycling; a gateway to talk about economics, especially the various flows of money and goods; a gateway to talk about geography and how we have used our land and rivers to bury and carry waste; and how we use natural resources generally.

This would also be a good video for Boy Scout merit badge classes for the Citizenship in the Community and Citizenship in the Nation badges.

Contrasted with most of the industrial grade video I’ve seen for economics classes, this is fantastic. It’s better than any of the sometimes ambitious, but ultimately dull productions from the Federal Reserve Banks (are you listening, Richard Fisher? Hire Will Brehm’s group). (No offense, Osgood — yours is the best of that lot.)

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., probably has political objections to the movie, claiming it leans left, which indicates it’s in the mainstream. If you’re using any other supplemental material in your classes, this just balances it out.

Screen capture from the film, “Story of Stuff”

How a carnival should be done: 4 Stone Hearth

December 15, 2007

By now you should have learned this is not a place from which to get clockwork notes about blog carnivals to read. Sometimes I look at a carnival, and finding not much to interest me, I assume in all hubris that you won’t find much there, either. More often I get bogged down doing other things and just forget to note some.

I post about carnivals here when I think there is good material.

So, I gotta tell you: Run see the current 4 Stone Hearth, posted at remote central. It’s #29, and it’s a doozey.

4 Stone hearth image, 12-2007, dolmen in snow

For your geography classes, make a note here of Britain’s pyramid, “the inside story.” Didn’t know Britain had a pyramid?

See what I mean? How can you ignore stuff like that?

There are posts about volcanoes, posts about excavating shell mounds and prehistoric garbage dumps (no, Mr. Dembski, no Pebbles cereal boxes), your standard skeleton moving fees story, polyandrous sex and sexual dimorphism among human ancestors, and a couple of notes about the flooding of the Black Sea (“Noah’s flood”) and what that did to human civilization. And a bunch of other stuff.
This isn’t a kids’ carnival in any way. For your geography and history students, there is a lot of material in this one carnival about prehistory, material that simply will not be in the textbooks (but probably should be).

Great stuff. It’ll take a while to wade through all of it, and you will find material that will excite your students in class.

The next Four Stone Hearth is set for December 19th, at The Greenbelt.

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