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Re: birds and dinosaurs

Hi All

Here in Australia I've yet to see what misconceptions my kids' textbooks contain as they're all still in Primary school (K-7 here) and textbooks aren't usually the resource employed.

My eldest daughter is learning about dinosaurs in year 1 - it's the current Theme - and last night I explained to her that small, flying dinosaurs were still alive and well, but we call them "birds".

She thought that was pretty cool and didn't express any concerns over our local dinosaur population of corvids at the time, but this morning she did look a bit nervously at a noisy raven in a tree. I'm wondering what her teacher's reaction will be when my daughter "corrects" her for saying dinosaurs are all extinct.


evelyn sobielski wrote:

--- David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at>

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books are horribly out of date.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.

In Germany, schoolbooks are approved on a state (not country) basis, except those for the last years of the most prestigious highschool branch which are up to each individual school's discretion (which is for example where the fact that 'shrooms and bactera are not plants is on the curriculum; on a country-wide average about 45% advance to that level). But altogether it's about the same as in Austria. We already had one education minister who's an evo-denier, in Hesse, but she got the boot recently (though not for that particular reason).

In a test in late 2007, it was found that biology
textbooks have on average 1 severe error each 5 pages.
But few of these were fundamental misrepresentations
(insofar as that they did not stick out and could be
corrected by an alert teacher in-class).



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