I recently emailed my MP to ask for his support in the campaign to include evolution in the primary school curriculum. I’ve emailed him a few times before, to no reply, but yesterday a somewhat curious letter arrived. It starts off pretty positive:
Let me say first of all that I support the teaching of evolution. In the modern era, the importance of science cannot be overestimated. It is critical that, from an early age, children learn the core principles of scientific thought and, more importantly, are instilled with an understanding of the way that science shapes our lives.
Great! That’s the spirit. Then there’s a quick dig at the government (he’s a Conservative):
I have a number of concerns about the Government’s proposals in general. I am concerned that the changes to the primary curriculum will lead to children learning less not more. It is also important to recognise that the move away from traditional subject areas will lead to a further erosion of standards.
Any argument with the word ‘traditional’ raises red flags with me, but whatever – I don’t know enough about the other proposals to comment. Then, though, there’s this:
It is important that children are educated to a standard where, should they wish, they can read about alternative theories and histories, thereby expanding independent thought. Given your strong views about the issue, I would recommend responding to the consultation [he gives the link]
Wait. What? ‘Alternative theories and histories’? Where did that come from? What’s an alternative history? What does this have to do with primary school curricula?
It’s probably innocuous, but is nonetheless strange. Perhaps he’s saying the education system should provide a solid grounding in fact so that children are well prepared for the ‘alternative theories’ when they’re older? It’s unclear, but it’s a touch worrying to see ‘alternative theories’ mentioned – this kind of tricksy language is more often used by advocates of intellgent design. I strongly doubt that’s the case here, and google doesn’t have any other suggestion, but I’ll keep an eye out.
Interestingly, he doesn’t actually state any explicit support for evolution in the primary school curriculum in the letter, but there’s a copy of a letter to Ed Balls in which he does. So that’s cool.