21 December 2007

Texas Higher Education and Creation Research, Part 4

I'm really amazed at how little press the Institute for Creation Research is getting for its application to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master's degrees in science education.

Maybe all the reporters are busy Christmas shopping.

One of Nature's blogs, The Great Beyond, has taken notice.
On the one hand this is a totally stupid move: creationism is not a science and anyone attempting to teach science from a creationist view point is going to – at best – produce ignorant and misinformed students. On the other hand, does it really matter what name you give a degree? In the UK ‘science’ masters degrees are sometimes awarded for history courses and ‘Master of Arts’ degrees for physics.
It's not just about whether it's a Master of Science or a Master of Arts, although it certainly is gallingthat they would have the chutzpah to try for a Master of Science.

I would be just as upset if this proposal was for a Master of Arts degree in science education. It's the content, not the title, that makes this an application that should be rejected. A graduate degree in science education that revolves around creationism is a total contradiction in terms. It would undermine the credibility of every other education graduate program in Texas that teaches actual science.
Creationists are already teaching science in schools and that is the problem, not the creation (groan) of unwarranted degree titles.
Not legally in the U.S. K-12 public school system, however.

The Great Beyond author also puzzled over how quiet this story has been.

I hope this story gathers steam in the New Year, as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is slated to discuss this proposal on 24 January 2008.

The Coordinating Board's approval may be more important than I originally thought. According to a report from Texas Citizens for Science, approval from THECB would give the Institute permission to offer degrees for two years while it applies for SACS accreditation. It would also allow them to offer degrees through distance learning, according to another report.

Since the newswire is quiet, let's see what some other bloggers have to say...

Michael White at Adaptive Complexity writes:
Is it acceptable to accredit a science education program that teaches science students that they can build perpetual motion machines that violate the laws of thermodynamics? That matter is not made up of atoms, and that diseases are caused by 'humours' and not germs? Of course not, and by the same token, it is wrong to give state approval to a Master's program that teaches future science educators that the earth suddenly appeared less than 10,000 years ago, and that today's living species did not descend from a common set of ancestors.
The author of the Petunias blog tries to see humor in the situation, but fails:
Go look at the ‘Institute’s’ web site. It would actually be funny if they weren’t serious.

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