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Why Teaching Human Evolution Can Inspire Student Interest in Science

Why Teaching Human Evolution Can Inspire Student Interest in Science

The National Center for Science Education is dedicated to encouraging student interest in science, and in a guest blog post, Lauren Saville, the owner and creator of Primate Tales, elaborates on why teaching human evolution is important to encouraging interest.

Saville argues against the politics that make teaching evolution in the classroom a difficult decision.

"To skip or minimize discussion of human evolution...is to miss an opportunity to engage students. From an early age we wonder where we come from; evolution explains that for us,” she writes.

As more and more people try to pique student-interest in science, Saville argues that teaching the science behind evolution is one of the first ways. It’s an initial push, she says.

"Tapping into our inherent curiosity about our history and origins is a great way to get students excited about science. Who does not want to know why we do the things we do and look the way we do? Learning about our own evolution helps students feel connected to science.”

"It can be cool to watch chemistry experiments but they may not relate directly to our own lives. Many students would never picture themselves as a ‘typical' scientist who wears a white lab coat and works in a lab all day.”

Debunking these myths about science, such as that a scientist has to wear a lab coat and work in a lab, is a crucial way to get all students, particularly women and minorities, into the field.

As we try to get a wider variety of students into STEM fields, this becomes an important thing to consider. We need to find different ways to teach students that “doing science” includes a spectrum of activities.

”...human evolution is instantly relatable, and shows students who are interested in science but don’t realize that spending your days out in the field digging up fossils or observing our primate relatives in the wild are examples of 'doing science,’” Saville says.

"Teaching human evolution is too important to avoid for fear of the controversy surrounding it. I have seen the moment in which a student begins to comprehend the bigger picture of where we come from, and it is amazing to behold. We need to give students more opportunities for moments like this that can shift their perspective and open up a whole new way of thinking.”

Read the full post.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

7/21/2016

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