Evolution: How Mr. Bertoch Teaches This Challenging Topic

Evolution for homeschoolers

Evolution is a challenging topic to teach in any setting. This is even more true when the audience being targeted is homeschooled families. The dichotomy within the homeschool community around the topic of evolution and creationism is strong and fierce.

On the one hand, there is a group that strongly advocates that creationism should be taught in science. I will call these individuals “creationists.” Please know that I do not do this in a derogatory manner. Indeed, I put myself in the category of one who believes in a creator.

On the other hand, there are the evolutionists, who fiercely advocate that only evolution should be taught in a science class. Again, please do not think I am using the term evolutionist in a derogatory way, as I have always taught science this way throughout my career, and believe that the topic is important to understand, as I will explain toward the bottom of this post.

My Original Intent
When I wrote the HandsomeScienceTeacher curricula, my original intent was to teach evolution and not mention creationism at all. Right up until the moment I recorded this video in fact. Throughout the past year, as I have worked on developing these courses, there has never really been any doubt in my mind that I would not incorporate creationism into my instruction, because again that is how I have always taught it in the past.

Then, I called A Slight Audible
Remember, that the videos that accompany each unit are not scripted. I simply turn on the camera and teach from my heart. It was perhaps five seconds before I hit the record button, that I mentally called this audible, and decided that instead of excluding creationism from the discussion, I would take a slightly different approach.

I decided that a better way to address evolution would be to proceed with my original plan in teaching the theory in its entirety, such that I am still true to the science. Since that is my job as a science teacher.

But, instead of ardently insisting that this theory must be accepted as absolute, I would instead use the tension between the two sides of this debate within homeschool communities to create a unit around the importance of being objective.

Keep in mind that this idea flashed through my head in an instant and that I then hit the record button and did my best to achieve this goal. With very little time to really give thought to how my phrasing should be articulted within the video.

And that fact can lead to me offending some. For this, I truly apologize. Know that the effort was sincerely felt, even if the delivery wasn’t perfect.

Objectivity is really important in science, and the truth is, that on this issue both sides can sometimes lack objectivity. Both the evolutionists and the creationists are sometimes less than willing to consider anything outside of their own views. Evolutionists state that evolution is an absolute fact, that definitely occurred. So strongly are these convictions felt that they typically cannot see their own lack of objectivity. This unwillingness to consider anything outside of evolution in order to explain the diversity of life on Earth is a problem that runs counter to how science is supposed to be done.

They will insist they are objective, but when asked whether they would consider any other explanation for life, they state that there is no need to, because all the evidence points to evolution. Know that I am generalizing. Not all evolutionists are guilty of this lack of objectivity. But, many are.

Creationists are sometimes also guilty of this. I don’t mean in terms of faith, because faith stands outside of science, and I certainly do not judge someone’s religious beliefs. Rather, I simply mean that some creationists struggle to separate religion and science into separate camps. To see that one can both adhere to their faith, while also using the principles and practices of science to discover processes that can enhance their faith.

Though I will say that I tend to see more open-mindedness among creationists than I do in circles of evolutionists. This is often because believing in creationism does not necessitate precluding someone from also believing in evolution. Many who believe in a creator also accept the theory of evolution.

The objectivity granted to those who do not need evolution to be true but who are willing to accept it, if evidence can be found to support it, tends to allow for a more honest examination of the data.

Objectivity Is Important In Science
Whether you conclude that evolution occurred, or whether you look at the evidence and conclude that it did not occur isn’t the point. Both of these conclusions are valid, so long as you remain objective throughout your exploration of the topic. It isn’t my purpose to tell you which side of this debate you should fall on. My purpose is only to present the evidence for and against the theory, and then allow you to draw your own conclusions.

It’s Okay If We Don’t Agree With Each Other
What matters isn’t that intelligent people agree with each other. What matters is only that these individuals are able to remain objective as they make up their minds.

By focusing this unit on objectivity, my hope is that I can fully teach evolution, without insisting that it be accepted as absolutely factual. Students who complete this unit will walk away with a full understanding of the science behind evolution. However, they will be given the opportunity to use their own objectivity to draw conclusions about whether or not they believe the theory being taught.

My Presentation Is Not Perfect
I think where I perhaps failed to achieve my goal is that my own biases (against the theory of evolution) come out a little too strongly. I apologize for this. In attempting to show countervailing evidence of evolution (to be fair to both sides), my own concerns about evolution’s validity come through more strongly than I had intended. My plea to the learner is that you ignore my bias. Your job is not to believe me. The views expressed are simply my opinions, which were shared in an effort to show that there are alternative views. Your job is to learn about the theory of evolution. To attempt to remain objective. To examine all the evidence, and then to make up your own mind about it. I respect anyone who disagrees with me. So long as you drew your conclusions objectively.

Why Should I Want My Child To Understand Evolution?
Evolution is a fundamental principle within biology. It represents a theme that touches on many other aspects of science. Not understanding the science behind evolution will leave your student at a disadvantage.

Evolution Doesn’t Have To Harm Your Child’s Faith
I am a good teacher. It used to bother me that I utilized this talent to teach evolution so effectively. However, I quickly learned that studying evolution doesn’t harm a child’s faith. Faith runs deep. Moreover, most children are able to hold both evolution and faith in different parts of their minds and understand that mankind’s goal is comprehension. Science and faith both seek truth. They just seek it in different ways. Eventually, science and faith will merge as both arrive at the truth. Evolution represents our current understanding from a scientific perspective. I have found that students grasp the role that science plays, how it is always changing and advancing. In my experience, understanding the current theories of science doesn’t cause students to let go of the truths they learn through their individual faiths.

Children Who Understand Evolution Can Debate It
A child who understands the theory of evolution is in a much stronger position to debate it in a meaningful way. A lack of understanding of this topic leads to a debater being dismissed quickly. If however, your child can show that they understand the theory in depth, then someone debating them will have no choice but to take them seriously.

Your Child Will Encounter Evolution At Some Point In Their Life
It is almost a certainty that at some point in their lives, your child is going to encounter this theory. That may occur during a time of personal faith crisis. Whether that be in a college biology class, or simply a book or online article. In those settings, the theory will be presented in very strong terms. The presenter will likely be someone who insists that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming and that only fools reject it. They will say that it isn’t a theory anymore, but an accepted fact.

Wouldn’t it be better to prepare your child for this virtually inevitable moment? Not just with the knowledge of your faith, but also with a solid foundation in science. So that when this occurs, they are already familiar with all aspects of the theory, and can already identify the potential lack of objectivity on the part of the article, book, or college professor. Then, in their minds, instead of being surprised by the evidence being presented for the theory of evolution, they will instead be prepared, and already established in their views. With a solid footing for debating why they take the views and positions that they do.

Following Is The Video That Goes Along With This Unit

Take a moment and watch the video, and then decide for yourself whether or not this unit is appropriate for your student. You are the parent, and ultimately the call is yours.

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