Help – my childs school is teaching creationism as a theory

Nov 12, 2012


Discussion by: Gitesh
My child started a new non-denominational school in September. I was very concerned to learn that the School will be teaching creationism as  a theory. I queried this with my child’s teacher and below is the response I received:

“Sorry that it has taken me so long to email you. I spoke to Mr <name removed> – who is the head of year 3. He confirmed that both creationism and evolution will be taught as a theory and that children will be told that it is their choice as to what they believe. Evolution won’t be taught as a subject in year 3 as it is quite complex but it may be mentioned in science – in topics such as variation. 
I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me and I can answer them or if I can’t I will forward them to Mr <name removed>. 
Best wishes,
<name removed>”

My main concern is that the skills required for scientific reasoning are undermined by teaching creationism as a theory instead of a belief system. I fully support and understand that the students brought up with this belief are free to accept this point of view.

I am trying to arrange a meeting with the head. In the meantime any thoughts on an approach or advice would be appreciated. 

34 comments on “Help – my childs school is teaching creationism as a theory

  • 1
    ANTIcarrot says:

    While you have my sympathies, before I can suggest any action, it might help if you provided some basic information.

    For example: What country do you live in?

    And no, this is not obvious from your letter – especially as this is an international website, on an international internet. I appreciate you probably want to protect your child’s privacy, but without useful information, I’m not sure you will receive useful advice.



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  • 3
    Alan4discussion says:

    @OP I spoke to Mr <name removed=””> – who is the head of year 3. He confirmed that both creationism and evolution will be taught as a theory and that children will be told that it is their choice as to what they believe. </name>

    If this this is in the UK, contact your local Council Education department at once.  They may intervene or offer advice to you and to the school.  You may also wish to contact OFSTED to send inspectors. 
    Teaching Creationism as a scientific theory is illegal! 

    Some of the new “Free Schools” are trying it on to see what they can get away with, but the position in Local (Council) Education Authority schools is crystal clear.

    Free schools will not teach creationism, says Department for Education.
    Government spokesman says the education secretary is ‘crystal clear’ that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact –
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie



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  • 4
    crookedshoes says:

    First and foremost Evolution is NOT complex at all.  It’s implications and predictions can be very complex but, evolutionary theory is simple and elegant.  It is observable and it’s predictive power has been demonstrated for over 150 years.  The theory is simply stated:
    1.  All living things over reproduce.
    2.  There is variation among the offspring.
    3.  There is competition among the offspring for limited resource.
    4.  Those that win the competition survive to reproduce and drive their genes and genetic combinations into the next generation.

    Now, I do not know how old a child is in year three, so i do not know what lessons would be appropriate to convey these 4 statements and then to reinforce the issue with examples.  I also do not know how pervasive religion is in your curriculum or your country.  I’d go far out of my way to confront a science teacher concerning the relative merits of teaching creationism in a science setting. If this is a debate class or a philosophy class it is acceptable.



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  • 5
    Simon Tuffen says:

    If this is in UK, I would also recommend contacting the National Secular Society. They should be able to advise you on how to deal with this or contact the authorities on your behalf.



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  • 6
    Daniel Williams says:

    ” Evolution won’t be taught as a subject in year 3 as it is quite complex”

    I’m sorry my eldest is in year 2 (Well group 3 really as we live in the Netherlands, they start a year earlier. But it compares to year 2 in the UK) and she understands evolution. 

    I wouldn’t stand for it. No matter what they say and I would go so far as to pull my kids out of school if they insisted on teaching creationism. 



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  • 7
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    Creationism is not a scientific theory, so their statements are false.

    It seems they do not understand the meaning of words. A colloquial theory does not mean the same as a scientific theory. To equate creationism and evolution as both ‘theories’ is deeply mistaken. This should be brought to their attention. I really hope pointing out this error can help.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/S
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_

    It may be an innocent mistake. It can be corrected. This semantic confusion causes a lot of needless problem. People mistake the certitude of scientific theories by confusing the meaning of the word. Many people think scientific laws are more certain, or that an idea graduates to a law after it has been proven. If it is an innocent mistake, I hope pointing this out can force them to either change or expose their harmful ignorance and agenda in a way authorities can crack down.

    As a colloquial theory is just a guess, why teach a guess in schools?



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  • 8
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    I understood evolution as a tiny child. It’s intuitive. I learned it from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. There are neat little animations and everything. Evolution is for children. To assert it is too complex is anti-intellectualism, which of all things does not belong in schools.



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  • 9
    JonPerry says:

    You are right when you say that scientific reasoning is being underminded here but you have an opportunity to turn this into an great learning opportunity for your child with a little extra tutoring at home.

    There are many tools online for teaching evolution to children, explaining how science works, and why creationism is not science. Who knows, maybe your child will feel passionate enough about the subject to speak up in class and get everyone thinking.

    Good luck



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  • 10
    QuestioningKat says:

    Are there not any secular public schools in countries outside of the US? We seem to get several parents here that are upset that religion or creationism is taught in their child’s religious school. (err, umm?)  Do parents not have a choice? In the US, a parent would simply send the kid to a public school.



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  • 11
    Reckless Monkey says:

    As a teacher I may be able to give some feedback that is of some use.  Not knowing where you are makes this a bit difficult as I do know the exact structures your country follows.  However across most countries this will be similar. 

    Schools are responsible for teaching the syllabus set out by the country.  If you are in UK, Canada, USA or Australia you can be fairly confident that if evolution is  on the syllabus it will not include Intelligent design. 

    So before your meeting get hold of the syllabus documents for primary schools (usually these can be found on line).  If you have a teacher friend ask them to help interpret (doesn’t matter what year level they all will use similar education terminology).  

    Contact the education depatment and ask for contact details in the department responsible for the science syllabus ask them if ID is allowed to be taught in schools.   At this stage I would’nt spill the beans on your teacher just say you are making an inquiry and want clarification. This will give you the departments line on this.  Now it’s likely that the teacher has either a religious agenda or has misinterpreted the syllabus (they are general documents) so teachers do have some leeway but not that much.   Essentially everything in the science syllabus will be well established science, none will be controversial.

    As a teacher and I know I am legally obliged to teach the syllabus and cannot just make up stuff.   So your argument should be  based upon the notion that by teaching Intelligent design would only confuse the students given that it is in the context of a science lesson (year 3 I’m imagining would be 7to 9 years old in most countries).  And point out the relevant sections of syllabus. 

    Now a teacher depending on country you are in who steps outside of the syllabus (in such a way as to effect the teaching of what they are legally responsible to do) could be disciplined, drop a pay scale, loose their job etc.  So you need to be fully informed as to what the teacher is meant to teach. This will let the teacher know you are serious, and this issue wont just blow over. 

    Reassure the teacher that you don’t want to cause a major upset but you feel very strongly about this (you don’t want the issue to effect the way your teacher deals with your child in future- I’m not saying they will pick on your child this is very unlikely but we do get abused by parents at times and you want to keep the lines of communication open if you can, and the relationship positive).  So don’t go in all guns blazing at first.  Hopefully they’ll realise it is not worth the stress and drop it.  However they may get defensive and paint themselves in a corner.

    Talk to the teacher explain your concerns and ask him/her to justify why they are stepping outside of the syllabus.  Then if you have no luck at that level go to the principal and express your concerns.  If you get no joy there go to the department of education as ask to speak with whoever is in charge of the science syllabus.  If none of this works pull your kid from the school.

    Good luck.



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  • 13
    Tyler Durden says:

     He confirmed that both creationism and evolution will be taught as a theory and that children will be told that it is their choice as to what they believe.

    Firstly, creationism is not a theory, it’s religion. Secondly, evolution is not a theory, it’s fact.

    Thirdly, it’s not up to children to “decide” what is fact and what is fiction, it’s actually up to the teachers to teach what is fact. Would these same teachers hedge their bets with regard to the outcome of 2+2, and then allow children to decide based upon the judgment that “it is their choice as to what they believe”? Hardly.



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  • 14
    DocWebster says:

    It’s time to get grouchy with these people.  They only have enough bravery to pull this if they think they are in the majority, as if that makes any difference about truth. At some point they will stop responding to you, it’s how they deal with unwanted ideas,  so you have to be abrasive and relentless. You’re fighting for your child’s mind here and there can be no quarter, they teach the truth or they don’t teach.



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  • 16
    Ornicar says:

    Gravity is “just a theory” ; creationism is just a hypothesis.

    Out of respect for all religions, that all must be respected otherwise it is blasphemy, ask those kind people to teach the controversy. All the controversy :

    Babylonian Creation Myth : http://www.cresourcei.org/enum
    Korean Creation Myth : http://www.meta-religion.com/W
    Navajo Creation Myth : http://www.lapahie.com/Creatio
    Norse Creation Myth : http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/crea
    Creation Myth from India : http://library.thinkquest.org/
    Comanche Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Chinese Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Chelan Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Pima Creation Myth : http://www.aaanativearts.com/a
    Mayan Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Miwok Creation Myth : http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/c
    Salish Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Australian Aboriginal Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Hopi Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Tahitian Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Yokut Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Egyptian Creation Myths : http://www.aldokkan.com/religi
    African – Mande, Yoruba Creation Myths : http://dickinsg.intrasun.tcnj….
    Micmac Creation Myth : http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony
    Lakota Creation Myth : http://www.indianlegend.com/la
    Maori Creation Myth : http://www.laits.utexas.edu/do
    Christian & Jewish Creation Myth : http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goert
    Aztec Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Digueno Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Apache Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    African Creation Myths : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Hungarian Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Iroquois Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Inuit Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Huron Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg
    Hawaiian Creation Myth : http://www.dreamscape.com/morg

    And let children choose…

    Source : http://www.magictails.com/crea



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  • 18
    sundiver says:

    Whenever I get into the Creation-Evolution debate with one of my fundie co-workers I trot out the argument that if we teach the biblical creation myth we also have to teach ALL the creation myths. Of course, I’m always told that the biblical story is TRUE. It’s a bit like having a discussion with a wall….



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  • 19
    Rational says:

    This has not been my experience or that of my wife with Catholic primary schools in the UK.  All those we have come in contact with, either as pupils, parents of pupils or teaching staff members, actively push a creationist view of the world.  They do it from morning to close of school.  The painting classes were portraits of Jesus.  The sciences classes were pure creationist nonsense, being spouted as fact to 6 to 11 year olds.  Even at lunch more nonsense, they’re asked to thank the Lord for the food.  During Sports they pray for success.  It went on and on.  All of this is in direct opposition to the National Curriculum, but the Offstead reports commended these terrible schools.



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  • 20
    virag.padalkar says:

    Hi Gitesh,
    Your country will really help the forum in identifying sociological environment and suggesting a response. In the US, there was a very famous case along similar lines in Pennsylvania where parents got together and sued the board for teaching creationism couched as “Intelligent Design”. You can get more details on the case @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K… or by googling it.   

    I myself am based in India where the majority of the people follow a religion called Hinduism. Since this religion has no conceptual opposition to the theory of evolution (it has different problems which we need not go into here), it is not a big hindrance to the teaching of evolution; but perhaps you may be referring to a school run by a Christian organisation a.k.a a convent school (as it is locally referred to). 

    Either ways, perhaps you may want to discuss this with like-minded rational parents and start a common platform where you can oppose this decision. 



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  • 21
    aleksandra says:

    I was also outraged when I heard that my 8 years old son is going to have a subject in 4th grade called Religions.  (We live in Macedonia, mostly Orthodox Christian and partly Muslim society) It was no smaller torn in my eye to see that the school books instead of being filled with science and useful information, they are filled with “explanations” about the church holidays. I was determined not to let that slide. But had no idea where to direct my request. I had no support from the other parents, since they are all Orthodox Christians by tradition, and I was accused of brain washing my child. But, than I started reading Christopher Hitchens’ book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and realized that all I had to do was teach my son how to think for himself, not to believe everything he hears or reads and to question everything. So this Religion class might even turn out to be a good thing for him in a sense that he would know what nonsense religions are.  



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  • 23
    Just a kid says:

    Since it’s not a C of E school, I’m disgusted. I’d bet my bottom dollar that they don’t teach Scientology as a theory, and, in my view, Creationism is just as credible.



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  • Thanks to everyone for your comments.  I live in the UK, and it is a state funded, non-selective school, with close ties to the local CofE church.  Year 3 in the UK is for 7 and 8 year olds.
    Here is how it worked out:

    My son’s teacher is a NQT (newly qualified teacher) so assuming she had misunderstood the issue, my wife followed up with the head of year asking for a meeting.  He replied cc’ing in the Deputy Head (who is also the Head of Curriculum) so that we could all find a suitable date to meet.  By this point my wife and I were  getting very worried, as really we had just expected a simple email to reassure us that creationism was NOT going to be equated with evolution, rather than more and more senior people being brought in!

    My wife happened to catch the Deputy Head at a school meeting (where they made it clear that critical thinking was a cornerstone of their teaching methods), and asked him face-to-face.  He made it clear that the Bible creation story is taught simply as a story, with no reference to it being a valid alternative to evolution. Phew!

    However, they will teach the creation story next term, just before Easter, and we will definitely be keeping a close eye on how it is being presented.  Thanks for all the links and information everyone has posted here, we will refer the school to the appropriate information should it become necessary to do so.

    I especially appreciate the links to all the other creation stories from around the world and will be sharing these with my children, so they can appreciate that there are several stories from non-Christian cultures.  I may share these with the school too, in case they are interested in giving their students a whole world view. I believe there is an anthropological value in these stories, so they should be preserved… but certainly not taught as fact. 

    In related news, I was very pleased to see this today:

    The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a “comprehensive and coherent scientific theory”.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/educ



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  • 25
    HempStar says:

    talk to ur kid urself. i plan to whn mine ask me about it. ive already told 2 of my kids that went to church school(only cuz they didnt qualify for public school yet) that jesus is a story alot of people believe hes god butdaddy studies real life and i explained how stars created all of us even the man jesus. my two oldest now aree in reg school and its not a problem. the two oldest are 8 and 6 and they very well understand that life evolves from less equiped creatures and my 6 yr old now watches the planets and stars with me. dont let the school brain wash ur kid. inform them 1st of science and real life and let them know why school tells this story. idk man it worked for me.



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  • 26
    Doubletime says:

    Hard Core creationism is wrong even according to the bible actuallly. Since the hebrejc word ” day ” is not strictly used for a 24 hour period. So there is no reason to hold on to some mad belief that the earth is merely about 10 000 years older or less since that is not condoned by scientists or even supported by the bible itself.

    Even if there is indeed a god that created the universe/earth/life(And i do believe in that ) it still would not be a scientific theory, but more of a historic event as per the definition of ” theory ” ( Eventhough i dissagree abiogenesis/darwinian evolution/Big bang as true and definetly not equal in validity to  the theory of gravity even if true and i don’t believe that) So it should not be taught as a ” theory ” but if true it should still be taught as a historical event.

     



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  • Interesting point you make. I live in the UK where the majority of schools are secular. The issue here is one of access, those who live in small rural villages often find that the only choice available at key stage 1 is the village church school, and this brings in all kinds of issues for most people as these schools always teach Christianity as “fact” rather than fiction. I found the best thing to do was teach my children not to believe anything they hear, but to question everything. My kids both survived and are now healthy Atheist’s…



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  • 28
    Bruvvamoff says:

    I fail to see how Evolution can possibly more complex than the supernatural.
    But as stated by many of your responses so far, I would contact the legal authorities of your country as it sounds to me like thay are overstepping some boundaries.



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  • 29
    HarrieM says:

    Makes sense to me. First creatonism than the rest. But the indoctrination in year 3, will block the children from learnig the rest with an open mind.



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  • 31
    DaveScheau says:

    “My main concern is that the skills required for scientific reasoning are undermined by teaching creationism as a theory instead of a belief system.” I would like to point out the ignorance in that statement considering that the Bible is actually scientifically advanced and always has been. Until recently, It has always been thought that this is a geocentric universe and that the earth is flat, however, the Bible has contradicted these theories; Job 26:10 “He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
    At the boundary of light and darkness”. In the 1800s, the discovery was made that blood is necessary for life, however this has been written in the Bible thousands and thousands of years ago. Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of a creature is in the blood”. Only two of many many examples of how the Bible is NOT just a belief system. It seems these days that with the new theories and twists that people are creating in the name of science, that science is actually the belief system.



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  • 32
    KcbBerlin says:

    Surely offering Creation Theory is bringing religion into school curriculum? At least very borderline to me. This is the very mentality, and tactic which leads creationists to claim “belief” in evolution is a religion. Create an equivalence for both in, or both out. Sounds alarming to me. How old is year 3 ?



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  • 33
    Guptanator says:

    Wow that is outrageous! These schools are raping science like no tomorrow! I would understand maybe just a wee bit if they didn’t teach evolutionary theory but to teach creationism is ludicrous! There are churches for one reason and school for another. Church and reason is an oxymoron so I apologize by putting those two words so close together.



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  • 34
    Dr Finer says:

    Does your child learn in math that 1+1=3 and also 1+1=2 and leave it to the child to make their own mind up? I would suggest you remove your child from that school as quickly as possible. If you are in the UK, report them to OFSTED as I am sure it is illegal.



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