Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/07/webcast_quango_teacher_farrago/

Webcast quango: One-third of UK teachers are creationists

Teachers may be silly: Gov mediacrats, sillier

By Lewis Page

Posted in Science, 7th November 2008 12:24 GMT

In a recent survey, barely half of a self-selecting sample of UK teachers who use the webcast service Teachers' TV disagreed with the idea that "creationism or intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom". Some 87.9 per cent of respondents thought that it was appropriate to discuss religious matters in science classes if pupils brought them up.

Andrew Bethell, head of Teachers' TV, commented:

“The debate on whether there is a place for the teaching of creationism in the classroom is still fierce. Although over half (50.4 per cent) of teachers either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that creationism should be given the same status as evolution, there is a significant minority who believe that it should be given equal weight.

“Perhaps most telling is the fact that, almost 9 out of 10 teachers take the pragmatic view that they should be allowed to discuss creationism or intelligent design in science, if pupils raise the question.”

The survey was carried out by emailing 10,600 people signed up to the Teachers' TV website, of whom 1,210 responded. The government-funded quango webcast channel (which also broadcasts on satellite and cable, and has a two-hour Freeview slot) believes that "95 per cent of [the respondents] are teachers and the remaining 5 per cent work in the wider education workforce".

Presumably this means that 1,149-and-a-half of the respondents identified themselves as teachers.

Anyway. UK government guidelines state that:

Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science national curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science.

Fully 29 per cent of those responding to the email survey disagreed or strongly disagreed with this, says Teachers' TV.

It's worth noting that excluding theological discussion from science classes doesn't exclude it from school. Quite apart from science, schools are legally required to teach "religious education". Parents are permitted to withdraw their kids from RE, but few do. These periods might easily be seen as the appropriate venue for kids to discuss theological matters.

"The debate on whether there is a place for the teaching of creationism in the classroom," which Mr Bethell believes still to be firecely underway, was in fact settled long ago as a matter of law. There is such a place - just not in the science classroom. Nor the maths one, or the English one, or the gym, or wherever else some kid - or teacher - might want to bring up the subject of religion. They should wait for the religion class.

It would appear, however, that of the one in ten possible teachers on the Teachers' TV spam list who could be bothered to answer, around a third either don't know about RE, think that there isn't enough of it in the timetable, or are genuine science-denying lunatics.

The Teachers' TV release is headed "nearly a third of teachers agree that creationism or intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom". All the webcasters actually know for sure, however, is that about 3 per cent of the people they spammed think that. Much though we enjoy a witchhunt against silly corduroys as much as the next man, this is thin stuff.

Teachers are sometimes untrustworthy, but media quangocrats are a lot worse.

There's more from the Guardian here, and from Teachers' TV here. ®