On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

20th April 2012 at 01:00

This week: Tennessee

Try saying the word Tennessee to yourself. Tennesseeeee. It throws up mental images of the deepest of the US's Deep South, doesn't it? Its conservative heartlands. And for those with an interest in educational history, it should also make you think of the landmark Scopes Monkey trial of 1925, when the state became the subject of international attention after teacher John Scopes was taken to court, accused of breaking the law by teaching Darwinism.

Jump forward 87 years and the Volunteer State is back in the headlines for almost exactly the same reason: it has just passed a law that allows its science teachers to express scepticism toward "scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and global warming".

To be clear, this means that science educators in Tennessee will now be allowed to tell their charges not just that Charles Darwin was wrong, but also, if they so wish, that the sun goes around the earth.

Cue more national and international attention earlier this week. Just what are those crazy, southern hicks up to now, the world seemed to be asking.

Consider yourself banished to the Naughty Step, Tennessee, for allowing science and RE teaching to become blurred, and also for not learning the lessons of history - that such antics can reinforce some of the Deep South's most pejorative stereotypes. Y'all.

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