This week in Australia, information and legislative statements have come forward about the teaching of creationism alongside the theory of evolution in homeschool curriculums of Christian parents.
In the article linked above, a Sydney-based newspaper expands on the Home Education Support and Action Network’s recent statement on the homeschool teaching of creationism. The Network has stated that it would not be taught as “scientific theory” but that they would “provide information” about creationism within their curriculum, alongside their teachings about evolution. Parents have been quoted saying that they only taught evolution (and alongside of it, creationism) because it was what the NSW (North South Wales) curriculum laid out for them to do.
It is made explicitly clear by the author of the article that the Network has a very strong Christian bias, as many of its members are Christian. On top of that, they were receiving information and testimonies almost exclusively from the Christian parents that homeschool their children, rather than homeschooling parents that practice any other religion or that do not actively observe one religion or the other. The article omits any such dialogue that may or may not have transpired. Even further, one could insinuate that the central schooling system’s approach to teaching evolution opposed Christian’s religious values so much that they started to homeschool their children in order to have a more direct influence on shaping their beliefs. However, the article points out that there are a reported ten thousand students in the NSW region that are being homeschooled, and only 3238 that are registered with the Home Education Support Network.If that small percentage of the area’s total homeschooled constituency was the only group voicing their opinions on evolution in homeschool curriculums to a ruling body that largely shared their beliefs, it makes sense that the result would be an overall acceptance of the teaching of creationism as a supplement to that of evolution.
At the end of the article, a quote from John Kaye, an upper level official in the NSW government, expresses his concerns about the possible long term effects of the equalizing of creationism and evolution in homeschool curriculums. He talked about his fear of long term impacts on the society they live in, and on the degree to which the contrast between scientific theory and religious belief could fade.
If this is coming up in Australia, a country that historically has a shallower divide between belief in creationism and support of evolution than the United States, how long will it take for this homeschool-creationist bandwagon to travel overseas and become a hot topic in our educational world? Could this be the next Scopes trial? Is homeschooling versus mainstream schooling another demographic that needs to be examined in the studies of who understands evolution and who doesn’t, such as in “Natural History Museum Visitors’ Understanding of Evolution”?