I am a homeschool mom - planning to teach middle school life science next year. What textbooks or resources would you recommend to help a middle schooler understand evolution. I don’t want to have to get my PhD in biology to be able to know I am giving her an accurate, up to date understanding. The ID criticisms of textbooks in Icons of Evolution made it more confusing. Are those reasonable criticisms? It seems like while scientists may have moved on from where Darwin started, most textbooks haven’t. Thanks in advance!
These are good questions.
There are several educators here, and they can point out some good resources. In general, I would start with a secular biology textbook. I also recommend lesson plans from TIES: Teacher Materials | Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science. In today’s day and age, I also recommend pointing your kids to free simulations on line too.
Do textbooks have errors? Yes. They certainly do, and they are certainly out of date. But that doesn’t matter so much. The way biology works is that there are rules, but there are also exceptions to the rules. The way biology educations works is that we teach kids the history and highly simplified (i.e. missing important information) models, and slowly introduce them to the complexity and exceptions over time. Prepare you kids by telling them this up front. The textbooks don’t give the whole story. They don’t discuss how it fits with theology. They don’t explain all the complexities. It is highly simplified, but pointing them in the right direction.
Does Icons of Evolution identify any real errors? Textbooks are a moving target. Unless there are yearly updates to the Wells’ book, I’m not sure you should have any confidence that any of the quotes have relevance to books your kids will read. I do believe that at least a few of his examples were correct at the time. For example, if I recall, it does seem that some of the textbooks were presenting some misleading images of embryology. But keep in mind that textbooks are intentionally simplifying, and it may not currently be an issue.
I also recommend you discuss with your kids how it fits with their faith.
Point them to Jesus, not anti-evolutionism, as a foundation of a confident faith. https://peacefulscience.org/swamidass-confident-fatih.pdf
Introduce them to the diversity of the Church on origins, including how different people fit evolution and theology together.
Remind them that evolution is not the whole story, and scientists don’t even claim it is. So even if it is true, it does not explain everything.
Encourage them to follow Proverbs 4:7, to seek understanding first, before feeling they have to decide what they believe about this. Even if they (or your) become certain evolution is false, there is value in understanding it. If they don’t understand it, they don’t have any hope critiquing it any ways!
If you enjoy science yourself, considering learning some more. Perhaps with Friend of Science, Friend of Faith: Listening to God in His Works and Word: Davidson, Gregg: 9780825445415: Amazon.com: Books by @davidson or the GAE by @swamidass. Teach them the things you get excited about too.
Finally, come here and ask your questions. We are here to help you any way we can.