Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Bryan Leonard Testimony: Shaping and Molding His Students

A statement issued yesterday by Robert DiSilvestro, a Professor of Human Nutrition, and Glen R. Needham, an Associate Professor of Entomology at Ohio State University -- both members of Bryan Leonard's dissertation committee have made a big issue out of the fact that those who question the composition of the committee and have expressed concern about the ethical basis of his research have not read his dissertation.

However, it is not impossible to find out about Leonard's research. A transcript of his testimony at the Kansas science hearings last May has been available on-line for some time now.

Here's an excerpt of Leonard describing his research of intelligent design attorney John Calvert [RSR has broken long responses into paragraphs to make them easier to read]:

John Calvert: And in your high school you're teaching 10th grade biology?

Bryan Leonard: Yes, I am.

JC: Teaching it how?

BL: Well, the way in which I teach it is similar in a way in which basically we wrote the lesson plan that was-- that-- that serves as the curriculum mono lesson, entitled Critical Analysis of Evolution. So that particular lesson plan, I was the original drafter, however I had a number of people who were involved in generation, shaping and the molding of that particular lesson. Went through an extensive peer review process. And the way in which I teach evolution in my high school biology class is that I teach the scientific information, or in other words, the scientific interpretations both supporting and challenging macroevolution.

JC: How long have you been doing it?

BL: I've been doing it for about-- I think this is probably about my fifth year. About five or six years now.

[Skipping ahead in the transcript –RSR]

JC: You might touch on what were the goals of-- of this product, and does that lead into your power point?

BL: Yeah, it could. Basically the-- the-- the goal of this lesson simply was to help students' knowledge of macroevolution, so that was basically the main goal of our particular lesson. Again, what type of things can we as educators, what type of things we as drafters of this lesson, how can we actually and sincerely put our students in a better position to learn evolution.

So as you see here-- I'm going to have to walk. I'm a school teacher, so standing right here pointing is kind of difficult. But as you see here, goal number one with the critical analysis of evolution lesson, as well as my goal as an educator is to increase the students' knowledge of macroevolution. And you'll see here I have the word "students" in red, and the reason why I have it in red is because what-- as you're looking at that you're focusing on that red word. So that's one thing, hey, we need to focus on our students.

What type of things are students going to gain most of all as a result of implementing this lesson, so throughout the power point presentation you will see the word "students" in red to-- more so to try and-- a kind of constant reminder in our mind, hey, we want to focus on the students. You know, how we can put our students in the best position to learn macroevolution. So how-- how-- how can we actually increase students' knowledge of evolution. All right. Go back. Go back. Okay. Find out what students are most interested in and teach towards their interests. Teach towards their interests.

Yes. I asked my students in my dissertation study here, question: Which of the following would be more interesting to you-- rather, for you to learn, number one, scientific interpretation supporting macroevolution only. Number two, scientific supporting and challenging macroevolution. So I posed this question actually before I got to the evolution unit, just curious. Again, we wanted to teach towards their interests.

[Skipping ahead in the transcript again –RSR]

So what is my job as an educator? My job as an educator is actually trying to shape and mold and put my students in the best position to perform well on a test. Okay. You know, we have a set of assessments and various assessments there, so basically a-- I just want them basically to do well on the tests, as well as, of course, a number of other things, which I'll talk about a little later.

Next. Teaching contradicting evidence -- I'm sorry, information and multiple points of view [If RSR believed in Freudian analysis, we’d be tempted to call that a Freudian slip]suggests supporting and challenging, help students stimulate more complete understanding and critical thinking. In this particular book by Rophy (sp),[transcriber’s note from the official transcript – RSR]it is talking about how you present students with information that contradicts other information, discuss, present contradicting information forces students to recognize that the issue is more complex than they thought and stimulates students to develop more complete understanding.

So, again, as educators, we want to teach towards the interests there, but also what kind of things can we do as an educator to actually help our students to develop a more complete understanding. Okay. In teaching the -- the scientific information both supporting and challenging macroevolution I believe should and will do just that.


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