Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


HAMILTON, Francis, Blanche School, 1699 Ardmore Hwy, Taft, TN 38488,

A handful of experiences helped me change into a teacher integrating evolution into many areas of my science curriculum. My second teaching year exposed me to teaching evolution to middle schoolers; a novice, I restricted “teaching” to definitions and reading from my text. I actually taught evolution for the first time (my third year) when it became a larger curriculum component. It was receive so poorly I found myself apologizing, referring to evolution as “just a theory”, which was the wrong approach. By my fifth year, two influencing events occurred. The Bible Club Sponsor's son was in my sixth grade class so I purposely moved up the evolution lecture when I discovered she would be substituting. I was initially encouraged when she told me she liked the way I handled the class, but I later realized that I did not handle it very well because I used “It's only a theory” to avoid confrontation. Also, a mother of another student sent me a video tape as a Christmas present that contained “proof” that evolution was wrong. I was the only middle school teacher to receive a copy of the tape. In my sixth year, a student wore a t-shirt to school that read “Darwin was wrong” with a picture of monkeys on it! These events were discouraging. In my seventh year groups had to defend why they put various fossils where they had to place them in a rock strata. One of the groups said that they did not believe in fossils or dinosaurs. By the time we finished the unit, they understood that fossil are evidence supporting the theory of evolution. I was able to deal with this situation more effectively due to summer development training through UT Martin's IMEGS program, which emphasized that theory does not mean a “guess” in the world of science. Now in my eighth year I feel more confident than ever because of the knowledge I have gained the past two years of summer training specifically focusing on this issue. My approach is more organized; first laying the foundation of biodiversity and similarities in organisms. We talk about how awful it would be for people to think that science is not important or dismiss the work without properly understanding it. I have come to understand that teaching evolution is not reading about it in the textbook, it is integrated throughout the curriculum.