Can controversy over origins be taught under the GCSE Specifications?
New GCSE Specifications emphasise that students must understand how science works, to help them engage with and challenge the science they meet in everyday life. Students need to adopt a critical, questioning frame of mind, understanding how science impacts society and their lives. Origins are not exempt from this emphasis, though the degree to which discussion of alternatives to evolution is required differs between examination boards. Table 1 below summarises the specific aspects of origins which are mentioned by different boards. For annotated extracts from the new GCSE Specifications, click on the Examination Board names at the top of each column.
Older GCSE specifications, most of which are still being taught through the 2006/07 school year, also present legitimate opportunities to teach the current scientific controversy over origins. Table 2 below summarises the teaching about biological evolution found in these GCSE specifications. For comparison, the Scottish Standard Grade has been included in Table 2. More details on education in Scotland can be found elsewhere on this website.
Evolution by natural selection...has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong.
Robert B. Laughlin, A Different Universe (New York: Basic Books, 2005)