The most recent was the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act carried by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City. Each has ultimately been defeated mainly due to pressure exerted by the science departments of the major universities in Oklahoma. It is hard for me to understand why, since I believe the adage, “Truth does not fear investigation,” to be reasonable.
It makes me wonder what the opposition is afraid of if evolution theory is supposed to be a “scientific fact.” All the bill is designed to do is allow teachers in Oklahoma to provide information about empirical scientific studies that may question some evolutionist assumptions. Providing our students in our public schools with scientific information verified by credentialed scientists is not teaching religion. It is providing students the opportunity to see broader issues that go beyond what they read in their textbooks. Real education should be about teaching kids how to think through information presented to them, rather than just regurgitate “true or false” or fill-in-the-blank answers.
This has been a big problem with “No Child Left Behind.” Teachers have been forced to teach how to pass proficiency tests, rather than learning how to think and learn what the information means and how it can be applied in coming to reasonable conclusions.
I experience this in my college class rooms.
I often find that my students can read answers to a question from their text, but when I ask, “What does it mean?” trying to get them to think about what they just read, I get blank stares. Most of these students are products of Oklahoma public schools. They are intimidated when asked to “think outside the box,” or to use their own faculties to reason to a new realization.
Our kids are at times taught to question American history through revisionism, the Bible through open-mindedness, politician’s motives through skepticism, and yet Darwinism is not to be questioned in Oklahoma public school classrooms. Why not?
Innovation is the product of investigation. Nothing should be off-limits.
One major example is “junk DNA.” For years, it has been thought to be leftover from past evolutionary progress and no longer needed. This evolutionist assumption limited research. Now that some scientists decided to think outside the box, it turns out that so-called junk (noncoding) DNA impacts embryonic development in the reproductive tract, the central nervous system, DNA repair and is crucial in preventing heart disease and cancer.
This leads to one of two discoveries:
What is in the box is false, or what is in the box is true. That leads to progress. Our public schools need to be producing students for our university science schools who question everything and follow their investigative studies to wherever they might lead, unhindered by any form of predetermined bias. Maybe that is what our university professors are afraid of: students who can think for themselves and who need to be guided, but not indoctrinated.
Kern, husband of state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is pastor of Olivet Baptist Church and adjunct professor at Mid-America Christian University.
expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and
elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.