I knew they were here

I have met young earth creationists in New Zealand, but they have seemed to be few and far between. New Zealand is a secular society and religious people tend to be moderate, bar the kooks on Queen Street on Friday and Saturday nights. Evolution is the principle that ties all of biology together. Insert Dobzshansky's famous quote here. Thus, it should be taught in biology, and as such it is in New Zealand.

The science curriculum is grouped into several strands linking to the major areas of science. Biology is called "the living world" strand under which the following descriptions is provided:

The living world strand is about living things and how they interact with each other and the environment. Students develop an understanding of the diversity of life and life processes, of where and how life has evolved, of evolution as the link between life processes and ecology, and of the impact of humans on all forms of life. As a result, they are able to make more informed decisions about significant biological issues. The emphasis is on the biology of New Zealand, including the sustainability of New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora and distinctive ecosystems
Furthermore, from level 1--8 (ages 11 to 18) students are taught evolution as evidenced by the achievements and aims of the living world strand. We should expect then that all students who attend state school in New Zealand are exposed to, and taught the basic principles of evolutionary biology.

It turns out that this is not true. Two recent posts (here and here) by Allison Campbell from Wiakato University highlighted two examples of state funded school discarding evolution from their teaching in favour of creationism. The two schools in question are Westminster Christian School and Ponatahi Christian School. Westminster has a pdf of their prospectus that outlines how they have replaced the word 'evolution' with 'creation' and also have a special course called Creation Studies where they seem to go through the days of creation presumably in a literal sense and brainwashing the kids. Ponatahi, on the other hand, has an entire section on their website dedicated to evolution/creation.

I have very little to say on this other than I find these two examples really disgraceful. It makes a mockery of science and how it should be presented to students. The creationist/ID lot love claiming that presenting the "alternative" ideas and letting kids decide for themselves is exactly in the spirit of science. However, when you imply that accepting evolution you are essentially rejecting god and resigning yourself to an eternity of torture. This is mental child abuse and should be stamped out. What I find worse is that these are state funded schools and they are blatantly misteaching those kids. My taxes pay for that and I don;t think it is OK.


alison said...

State-funded, but 'special character'... for some reason this acts as a 'get out of jail free' card when it comes to curriculum.

Jarrod said...

It is quite strange that it is an acceptable 'get out of jail free'. According to Ponatahi's own website the NZ government pays the teachers full salaries. Apparently the MoE is supposed to perform reviews. I have read the reviews on ERO and they are lacking any significant comment on the schools' disregard for the curriculum.
Is this legitimate from a legal perspective?

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