Effort to End Creationism in Welsh Schools

This appears at the website WalesOnline, which refers to itself as “as Wales’ premier outlet for breaking news.” They’re located in Cardiff, the Welsh capital. Their headline is Sir David Attenborough calls for Welsh Government to ban teaching religion as science. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Leading experts and scientists are calling on the Welsh Government to ban the teaching of creationism as science. The 46 scientists and educators, including Sir David Attenborough, want to ensure that students are taught evolution at primary school and to explicitly ban the teaching of creationism as science in all Welsh state schools.

We didn’t know there was a problem in Welsh schools. Hey — perhaps those 46 people would also contact some American school systems — especially in Louisiana and Tennessee, both of which have enacted a version of the Discovery Institute’s creationist Academic Freedom bill.

That’s unlikely to happen, so let’s get back to the news story. WalesOnline says:

The Welsh Government’s draft national curriculum does not teach children evolution until ages 14 and 15 and, at present, allows creationism and pseudoscience to be taught as science in all schools. This is not the case in England where evolution is taught at primary level and schools are forbidden from teaching creationism as scientific fact.

Creationists probably regard Wales as paradise compared to England. The news story then quotes from a letter that was sent to the Welsh government, the signers of which include Sir David Attenborough, Humanists UK and its President Professor Alice Roberts, the British Science Association, the Association for Science Education, and the Campaign for Science and Engineering. Here’s a bit of it:

As scientists and educators we believe that good science teaching is vital to the education and development of all children, wherever they live in the UK. … Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. It is a fundamental concept that describes and explains the development of the diversity of life on the planet. Pupils should be introduced to it early – certainly at primary level – as it underpins so much else. What’s more, without an explicit ban on teaching creationism, intelligent design, and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, such teaching may begin to creep into the school curriculum, when it is vital children in Wales are not exposed to pseudoscientific doctrines masquerading as science.

Hey, that’s great! We’d love to see the reaction of ol’ Hambo. Maybe we will. Anyway, here’s one more excerpt from WalesOnline:

Darwin’s theory of evolution is well established scientific fact and is as widely accepted as gravity as being correct. At the moment some independent faith schools in Wales do teach creationism as an alternative to evolution. They will not be affected by any potential ban as they are not a state school.

That seems fair. There’s lots more to the story, but you’ve got the general idea. The usual suspects will undoubtedly have something to say about this “Darwinist bullying.” We look forward to it.

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15 responses to “Effort to End Creationism in Welsh Schools

  1. As I understand (though I may be misinformed), the effort here is to head off the potential of ‘teaching’ creationism in Welsh state schools following introduction of proposed new educational standards. The new standards have some sloppy drafting rather than an intent to introduce creationism in the science curriculum. As far as I know, any ‘teaching’ of creationism in science classes in Wales at present is only in private religious schools, not in the public sector.

  2. Creationists are very much a minority in most parts of the UK, with the exception of parts of the Scottish Highlands, and of Northern Ireland. So as far as I know, there is no particular problem in Wales (although I expect there are the usual incidents of creationist organisations trying to infiltrate).

    England requires teaching of evolution as part of the primary curriculum, and has clear language in the government’s education guidelines saying that creationism and intelligent design are not science and should not be taught as such. This is what we are asking Wales to do as well.

    I say “we”. Scan down the list of individual signing. I am proud to be among them, and see myself in very distinguished company

  3. Of course, if by some mischance creationism were to worm its way into the Welsh science curriculum, brace yourself for legions of leek-waving droolers shouting “Nid wyf yn berthynas mwnci!”

  4. @Megalonyx
    Interesting. I assume that the word “mwnci” is pronunced very much like its English equivalent, we means that this is one Wlesh sentence which an English speaker can easily understand.

  5. Perhaps a native English speaker – this non-native one understands zilch.

  6. @ TomS: Strictly speaking, “monkey” is a loan word in English

    I am not a Welsh speaker, though my late grandmother-in-law was from Brecon and Welsh was her first language. My favourite Welsh term: old Welsh word for oven is a “popty”, and the modern Welsh term for a ‘microwave oven’ is a “popty ping”

  7. @ FrankB: That’s how native Welsh speakers like to keep it. To be fair, I found a not dissimilar attitude while working for a Dutch company, in which all my Dutch colleagues spoke perfectly fluent English but frowned on my floundering attempts to learn a little to speak a little Nederlands. “No, no,” they would tell me, “we like to speak among ourselves sometimes without you understanding!” 🙂

  8. @ FrankB: As a linguist, I’ve always enjoyed etymology, but never found a trail for “fiets”. I do enjoy “bromfiets”, as a nice descriptor for a “fiets” that goes “brom”. It’s even more fun in Afrikaans as “bromponie”, tho’.

  9. A friend of mine came from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, and spoke fluent Duch. He recalls a couple of times when he overheard people speaking Dutch, and saying things that they would not have said had they known that they were being understood.

  10. Slightly off topic, but it might interest you guys how YE creationists react to David Gelernter’s recent “conversion”. It also nicely highlights the tension between YE creationism and ID.


  11. Michael Fugate

    Thanks for the laugh hans435. My favorite is this piece of “critical thinking” by the author in reply to a comment: “The reason why evolution is the sole theory of origins at secular universities is simply because it’s a religion, as Gelernter points out.” So non-religious (i.e. secular) universities teach evolution because evolution is a religion. And no doubt religious universities like Bob Jones and Liberty teach young earth creationism because it is science and secular.

  12. @Michael Fugate
    How is that many religious universities, in the US and throughout the world, teach evolutionary biology?

  13. Michael Fugate

    I think Ham could tell you – their faith is compromised.

  14. @SMC: the Dutch Wikipedia lemma on “fiets” has a paragraph on its etymology. Conclusion: it’s unclear where the word comes from, ie we Dutch ourselves don’t know either.
    If you like “bromfiets” you might like “snorfiets” as well. One meaning of “snorren” is quietly “brommen”.

    @TomS: “saying things that they would not …..”
    Eh yes, that’s a bad Dutch habit. It’s also one reason the Dutch themselves like to learn minority languages. And because we Dutch are at least as hypocrite as anyone we are greatly annoyed when other people in our company speak a language we don’t understand.

    “….. throughout the world …..”
    In The Netherlands they have to because it’s mandatory. Schools who refuse to teach evolution theory run a considerable risk of losing financial state support. And the curriculum is determined by professionals appointed by government.

  15. @Hans: ah, verily a gem of creacrap. Take this:

    “the evidentialist approach of the ID movement does not often bear much fruit”
    Well, in itself that’s correct. However as an argument for Young Earth Creacrap this implies that Cserhati and Carter don’t give a [bleep!] about evidence. That’s in itself unsurprising, but they openly admitting it does surprise me.