In a recent Reports of the National Center for Science Education (PDF), historian Adam Laats, author of Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America's Culture Wars (2010), writes about the necessity of science educators to understand Creationist culture.
Americans do not get it. Nearly half of US adults believe that humans were created as is, less than 10,000 years ago (Newport 2012). Those of us who care about evolution education must confront a sobering truth: evolution education does not work. Yet since long before the days of John Scopes, most of us have simply offered more of the same.
Laats says that evolution education fails to convince creationists.
Granted, the special purpose of evolution education is not to convince creationists. Evolution education in general succeed with many students as it should. If a student is objective and intellectually curious, they will learn evolution's principles and contemplate the theory's implications, and perhaps if they do not start down a path towards a profession in the sciences, then they may--more probably--remain curious about the new discoveries and developments in the field as they encounter it in future years through popular science writing and documentaries.
But for this education to be utterly ineffective fro such a huge percentage of Americans is a significant problem.
Laat proposes that evolution science educators need to better understand creationist culture, because evidence of evolution isn't sufficient to convince creationists.
Evolution education should never become an exercise in religious conversion, but it is high time for scientists and teachers to notice that not even religious missionaries engage in the naive and blinkered missionary approach still so common among evolution educators.
In particular, Laat stresses rightly that too many evolution educators assume creationists are ignorant about evolution; in fact, they often are not. They simply reject the evidence.
Read the article here: Reports of the National Center for Science Education (PDF), pages 3–6.
Ian Tattersall discusses Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins with Will Harcourt-Smith
50,000 years ago - merely a blip in evolutionary time - our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their own precursors had been doing for millions of years. Yet something about our species separated it from the pack, and led to its survival while the rest became extinct. So just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become Masters of the Planet? Curator Emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, Ian Tattersall takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special. Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long term evolutionary refinement. Instead it emerged quickly, shocking their world and changing it forever. Tattersall discusses our ancestors' precarious path to dominance with Will Harcourt-Smith, his colleague at the American Museum of Natural History and a noted teacher and scientist.