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Monkeys, Hedgehogs and Foxes

Anne Dalke's picture

As part of our discussion, y'day, on what/why/how to teach evolution to elementary, middle and high school students, I shared a final project made by a student in this class a number of years ago. It's called "My Great Grand-daddy was a Monkey." Enjoy (or, Hope, correct)!

Also, as part of our discussion of how "large" the scope of a K-12 science classroom should be--how much historical, cultural, social context should be provided?--as well as to organize some of our observations about how different brains make sense of things, I mentioned
* a great essay by Anne Fausto-Sterling, "Science Matters, Culture Matters," which argues powerfully for the need to contextual science teaching in human cultural interests; and

* a line coined by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: "the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing," which has been picked up by lots of folks, but

* most notably (@ least for our purposes!) by the great paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote a book called The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities, in which he uses the habits of these two different animals to evoke a classic dichotomy between persistence and agility of thought.



rachelr's picture

Honoring tradition

I was raised somewhat religious, attended Catholic church, CCD, was an alter server, and received first communion. Eventually I stopped going to church but I eventually attended a Catholic high school (for the education). Being in Seattle we had a very diverse student body, religion being a piece of that diversity. In our required religion classes we spoke openly about other religions, beliefs, and ideals. I am in no way a creationist, but I can see the draw to the idea of a higher power up there making choices. I am in three biology classes this semester, all talking about Darwin and evolution in parts of them, and it has made me stop to think about all of the millions of small things in our bodies and environments that have to happen correctly (or well enough) in order for us to work. How much trial and error does the randomness of nature and evolution need? I want to hear about the evolutionary changes in species that caused them to fail or to become extinct naturally. It would make my head hurt a whole lot less to just decide that God was sitting up in heaven, had some divine inspiration, and whipped out working models of all of life on Earth.

While I believe in evolution and that everyone should learn a story or two of evolution, I also think that it is incredibly important to honor beliefs and traditions. Belief and traditions are the foundations of human identity and have been around for thousands of thousands of years. I want Native Americans to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and continue to pass down the culture of spirits and a Mother Earth. I want God to tell Noah to fill up an arc with animals, and I want Allah to have created the Earth and given the gift of rain. Evolution, as we have discussed for three weeks, is about diversity, and diversity fosters new possibilities and perhaps allows us to check off a few more un-truths. 

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