On occasion, teachers find themselves on the receiving end of questions about the inclusion of evolution in the curriculum. Students may bring up challenges in class. Parents may object to their child learning about evolution. School administrators or other teachers may fail to support teachers in their efforts to teach evolution. Community members may present intentional challenges to individual teachers, to school districts, or even to statewide entities by attempting to influence science education standards or by changing legislation.
The Understanding Evolution website focuses on the science of evolutionary biology, not the controversy in the public arena relating to evolution. If you are a teacher facing significant challenges to teaching evolution because of any of the objections described above, you can contact the National Center for Science Education or learn about the law and your rights on their website.
All teachers, even those in communities thoroughly supportive of teaching evolution, should keep in mind that some students perceive evolution to be incompatible with religious faith. Although many religious views are compatible with evolutionary theory and although many religious organizations support the teaching of evolution, students may be unaware of these facts. The perception of a clash between science and students’ beliefs can cause discomfort in class. To make these students more comfortable, you can help them understand that evolution, like all of science, seeks to explain natural things through natural causes. It need not be considered incompatible with their faith because science does not rely on, and cannot evaluate or test, supernatural explanations. At the same time, your teaching should reflect the fact that evolution is the only scientifically valid and accepted theory that accounts for our observations of the biological world. Alternative “theories” that have been proposed for insertion into the science curriculum have not been supported by valid science.
For more resources on the controversy in the public arena relating to evolution, visit our page of FAQs on this topic.