News came out this weekend that the theory of evolution is to be included in primary school science lessons for the first time. As of April this wasn’t the case, and the change is down to a successful campaign and a lot of hard work by the British Humanist Association – huge congrats to them for getting this through.
I left school knowing what vaguely what evolution was, but with no understanding of how it underpins all of biology. Now I don’t understand how you can teach biology without it. I remember GCSE biology just being a bunch of disparate facts about animals and plants. The closest we got to evolution was having it drilled into us that a) camels have large feet, as they’re adapted to the deserts, and b) polar bears have clear fur, the relevance of which is still a mystery1. These two facts were all we needed for the exam, so I duly wrote them down and paid no more attention. My science teacher obviously noticed this problem, and at the end of our final year gave a friend a copy of The Selfish Gene. Looking back, that was a pretty awesome thing to do. I didn’t find that book until three years later.
Hopefully these developments will see evolution built more fundamentally into the textbooks, and not just as another thing to learn.