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It is not uncommon, that some teachers or schools introduce pseudo-science, like creationism, as a part of curriculum.

Given that it is hard to change school quickly, how to deal with such situation?

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Comments Removed -- Please let's refrain from carrying on conversation in comments. Please feel free to use the chat room or other forum to conduct such discussion. Thanks. –  Robert Cartaino Apr 25 '11 at 15:19
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Can you provide a definition of "pseudo-science?" Science is based on empirical and testable phenomena. Creationism is a historical claim, just as Darwinism is. Neither can be reproduced in a lab or empirically tested. Consider the claim "Plato existed." It is a historical claim, not a scientific one, but you would not call it "pseudo-science." It is in a completely different field of study. –  j.rightly Jul 13 '11 at 16:29
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The theory of evolution offers testable predictions. –  drxzcl Jul 13 '11 at 23:03
    
@j.rightly def: "Any body of knowledge purported to be scientific or supported by science but which fails to comply with the scientific method." Wiktionary –  David Sep 1 '11 at 7:09
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@j.rightly I'll start with the confirmation that I am Christian, but I am also a scientist. A scientific theory is one that has a lot of evidence backing it up, otherwise it would be referred to as a hypothesis. Creationism and evolution theory are VERY different in terms of empirical evidence - although it is true we cannot actually see evolution occur-just like we can't see the plates moving hence the title "Theory of Plate Tectonics" which is also an accepted, but less controversial theory. We can't see the process of either fully for different reasons, but both are backed by evidence. –  balanced mama Nov 8 '12 at 3:12
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4 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Everything ofcourse depends on the sort of pseudo-science and the amount of it your child is exposed to. If it is something that bothers you and keeps coming back. I would definitely talk about this with the teacher, the principal, etc. But when it's really part of the curriculum, it gets political fast and there probably isn't a lot you can change about it in the short run.

But regardless if you are able to change something about it: Talk to your child about it. Make this a learning experience for him/her to develop their own critical thinking skills. What does your child think himself? Does he/she believe the teacher? What would be a way to prove the teacher is right? What would prove him wrong? When should he believe an authority figure, when not?

Also it's good to consider that your own influence as a parent, on norms, values and ways of thinking, is far greater than the influence of a single teacher, or even a school.

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+1 for critical thinking skills. With today's media, being critical is more important than ever. And that needs to be learned. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 22 '11 at 19:52
    
Richard Dawkins, an outspoken biologist and firm atheist, famously wrote a letter to his daughters imploring them to use their rational thinking to determine whether what they were being taught was a scientific fact based on evidence, opinion or falsehood. No prizes for guessing why, but I think he was on to something: rationalresponders.com/… –  JBRWilkinson Aug 2 '11 at 19:02
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Probably the best guides to this topic come from the National Center for Science Education.

In brief, the best approach seems to be to first contact the teacher (in writing) and ask about any materials presented in class that had to do with the pseudoscience. Do not engage them in any kind of debate, just ask (nicely) what they presented and whether you can see the materials. After that, depending on their response, contact (in writing) their supervisor with your concerns.

Dale McGowan, who edited Parenting Beyond Belief, has a series of blog posts about this exact topic, starting here.

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You can write a letter to an administrator asking to remove your child from a particular unit of study and see if that can happen if you feel just begin open and having open conversations with your child about it isn't enough.

However, I would be extremely cautious before taking such an extreme route because such a choice will:

  1. Single your child out in a way he/she won't really be able to explain
  2. Wind up labeling you as the "fanatic" which will make it harder to have good conversations with the teacher because it builds walls and
  3. Most importantly, shelters your child from learning how to think through and deal with differences - an incredibly important social skill and skill for independence.

I would personally go with philosodad and Tim h. but thought this option should be included because it does exist in most public schools at least and offers the school feedback as to how strongly you feel if you choose to use this option. It is a middle of the road option to pulling your child out of the school and switching schools because of it.

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There's nothing wrong with teaching children Truth. If the teacher proposes creation science with a basis of fact, then it's not going to harm your child. Same goes for evolution.

The problem comes in when the teacher begins to tell their students blatant lies about one topic or another. There are plenty of evolution lies taught in the textbooks, you should be more concerned about these.

There are numerous very accomplished scientists that have gone from evolutionists to creationists based on the evidence that they've found. If that's the way that the evidence points, why would you fight it?

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I have deleted the comments. Comments are not for discussion, debating, or soap-boxing. Please feel free to take this discussion to our chat. –  Beofett Aug 2 '11 at 17:56
    
Jonathon, you're not answering the question. This question is not about the perceived validity of subject "X" (creationism was merely an example). Given that these parents feel subject "X" is pseudo-science and they don't want the teacher to teach it, what should they do? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 7 '11 at 17:52
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Creationism in its purest form is not "truth" according to evidenciary science and is in fact, pseudo science. Aside from that, creationism was only used as an example not the all encompasing question here. I am Christian and fully believe in an all-powerful God, but I wouldn't want my child's teacher telling her that it was honest science because it isn't. –  balanced mama Jul 10 '12 at 2:40
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"If the teacher proposes creation science with a basis of fact, then it's not going to harm your child." Harm is perhaps a strong word, but it's certainly not scientific education. –  DA01 Jul 10 '12 at 4:53
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"If the teacher proposes creation science with a basis of fact" ... he should publish in a Peer Reviewed journal and wait for his Nobel Prize. –  TRiG Mar 14 '13 at 14:42
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