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Re: birds and dinosaurs



In fact, in my experience K-12 biology textbooks are by far the most
out of touch with the current state of their respective science, and
it's for the simple reason that modern biology is always never out in
the absence of evolutionary theory, but textbook makers don't want to
embrace this due to fears of upsetting non-scientific parents.

That's certainly not the whole reason. In Austria, evolution is taken for granted, and there's much less choice in the school system (so you can't escape having biology lessons, and you probably can't escape learning about evolution) -- but schoolbooks are written by teachers, so the books never know more than the teachers do. In other words, the books are horribly out of date. I remember having a biology book that had a classification of "the animals" in the front and one of "the plants" at the back. Kingdom "plants", subkingdom "nucleus-less plants (bacteria)", subkingdom "nucleated plants"... we're talking late 90s here. (I forgot whether *Euglena* was classified as an animal or a plant, har har, but probably as a plant along with, say, *Chlamydomonas*.) And in the early 00s, I helped my little sister learning for a biology exam... her book depicted what it called an annelid and mentioned the fact that, remarkably for an annelid, it had jointed limbs. It was a frigging beetle larva. I kid you not. Approved by the Ministry for Education like all schoolbooks.


The biological sciences have one of the strongest pedagological tools available in that they have a unified explanatory framework within which the entire field can be made sense of. No need to memorize non-connected facts without a context

It goes without saying that this is precisely how it's done in Austria. Evolution, including mid-20th-century remedial paleontology, is in the curriculum and the books, but only in the 4th and the 8th ( = last) year of the more prestigious highschool branch. In other words, all the facts come first, and the explanation comes afterwards. (If there's still time left.)