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Creationism in Ontario.

Creationism in Ontario

Some scientists, and maybe ordinary pedestrians too, maybelieve that religiously motivated interference in the teaching of science is a feature of life in the American South, the so-called Bible Belt. That is where the famous court cases have come from (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana). "It doesn't happen only in the deep south,' says John R. Percy of the University of Toronto. He was surprised to find such attitudes politically powerful in Ontario as he worked with the provincial Ministry of Education on a revision of the school science curriculum.

In fact, astronomy almost got left out of the Ontario sciencecurriculum, Percy says, until some Ontario astronomers noticed and objected. Such an omission had actually happened in the United States, Kenneth Brecher of Boston University pointed out in a talk that followed Percy's. According to Brecher, astronomy was the most widely taught science in U.S. high schools in the late 19th century. But around the turn of the century an influential committee of educators, formed to recommend revisions of the science curriculum, didn't include a single astronomer, and so astronomy got left out. Brecher is now working on a nationwide project to reemphasize astronomy in U.S. schools.

Recently in Ontario, astronomy was also threatened, but wassaved by the efforts of a number of astronomers. However, as they worked with the Education Ministry to prepare a curriculum, the astronomers were surprised and dismayed by some of the changes in the material requested by ministry officials. In a unit on the solar system, officials wanted them to avoid the scare word "evolution.' It was relatively easy, Percy says, to replace "evolution' with "development' or some similar word. Requests to omit the age of the sun or to present the theory of supernovas as if it were very uncertain, he says, were more troubling.
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Author:Thomsen, Dietrick E.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 11, 1987
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