Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Student-generated 250-word essays on evolution

The assignment was: Produce a deep, philosophical, creative, mysterious, ORIGINAL, 250-word essay on the subject “Evolution, and what it means to me and to humanity in general.” The results are attached. This assignment was given to a BIOS 101 class at UNL a few years ago; essays that are included are from students who gave permission for the material to be used to improve science education. - JJ


wolframalphatester said...

Thanks for your talk tonight, Dr. Janovy. I've read a handful of these eassys tonight. I find it incredible that so many college students can reject what should be a rock solid case. If nothing in biology makes sense without evolution and everything makes sense with it, how do we help them to draw this same conclusion? As Lawrence Krauss is fond of reminding us, the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not. Maybe a more evidence based less fact-retention based approach is what is needed at all levels of education.

Finally, I really am concerned about the growing divide between the scientists and the rest of the world. If we do not have scientifically knowledgeable educators and lawmakers we seem forever doomed to walk this same path. But it also seems institutional science is happy to be as isolated from the rest of the world as the rest of the world prefers it to be. While it is true that you need not be a scientist to be scientifically literate, it just seems to me that unless we are placing very knowledgeable people in our primary and secondary schools as well as in our elected government positions then we will continue to be fighting a losing battle.

Anonymous said...

I only read a few of these, bit it amazes me how quickly so many people (not just these students in particular) jump straight into a religious arguement. Evolution is a biological concept, not a philosophical one. Understanding evolution shouldn't be something that affects your spirituality, but if you Absolutely can't separate the two in your mind, why is it so hard to integrate? If you believe in God, why can't evolution be a tool that God used (and continues to use) in order to govern the existence of his biological creations? Sure it isn't specifically mentioned in the bible, but neither are a lot of other things we have learned gravity, outer space, and the cause of bacterial infections. The bible is a philosophical guidebook telling us how to live our lives, not a textbook regarding the mechanisms Of the universe. To confuse the two leads to the conclusion that a person either doesn't understand evolution, or they don't understand what it means to be religious. Or in some cases, maybe a person really fails to understand either concept.

JJ said...

Yes, I was also a little surprised at how so many of those students claimed they could not talk about evolution at home, or started with "our family is deeply religious" or something to that effect. I also believe we're fighting a losing battle in our attempts to make the American public scientifically literate (see some of the recent comments from elected officials in the South).