Colin Purrington Makes Case for Early Evolution Education on Newsweek.com
by Michael Lott
Colin Purrington, associate professor of Biology, argues in an article on Newsweek.com that while children are naturally curious about "where things come from" at early ages, adults are reluctant to explain the concept of evolution to them. Whether because of religious objections or concerns about the complexity of the theory, "I think a lot of people believe that if we can get evolution taught well in high school, we should just be happy with that," says Purrington.
Conversely, Charles Darwin (whose seminal On the Origin of Species was published 150 years ago), was far more worried about the effect his work would have on the religiosity of adults. He used his own children to help him with his experiements, recognizing their natural scientific observational abilities.
Advocates of early evolution education argue that children today shouldn't be shielded from the theory—that they are both capable of understanding it and deserve to be given the opportunity to learn. Some progress has been made in the area. Britain has recently made evolution a mandatory part of educational curricula for all ages, and the article profiles a curriculum for fourth graders being tested in the United States.
Purrington maintains the Axis of Evo blog, which he describes as "mixing commentary and silly projects to help people get over their innate and learned fears of evolution." Watch: Purrington throws a 200th birthday party for Darwin.