…well for Biology at any rate.
It has been announced by the powers that be (they being the current Labour Government under the cyclops… Gordon Brown) that from september 2011 it will be a legal requirement for all state-owned primary schools to teach the basics of Darwinian Evolution.
This is, needless to say; a fantastic advance for science education in the UK, and I must admit to having trouble remembering what if any science I studied at my C of E primary schools… but I still hold some reservations about this great announcement.
Firstly, why are private/public schools exempt from this? Surely science, being the search for fact and mechanisms within the universe, should be taught to everyone at primary and lower secondary, and those who want to study it beyond? More to the point, why should private/publics be allowed to add a non-scientific bias to their teaching and instill stupification (Religious “schools” I am looking at you) in those most likely to lead our nation in the future?
Secondly, what controls are going to be placed on the curriculum at the state schools? and how are Ofstead going to guard against the “teach the controversy” imbiciles that plague the modern world?
But I shall not dwell on these worrying questions, but shall move on to another great “Huzzah” moment for biology, indeed for medicine – Stem Cell Research is at long last starting to be sanctioned, and hopefully the trend towards pro-science governance will continue long into the future… I dare say if it reverses I will be emigrating as soon as I can!
Also a little bit of Palaeo for the rock-hounds out there that do read this blog, either here on wordpress, or on Facebook or Windoze Live Space… Friday’s copy of The Times ran an article about Paul Sereno’s work on Mesozoic African Crocodilians after his team published some post-expedition papers.
Their expedition found a total of four new species from present day Niger and Morocco, the crocs were found in strata ~100Ma (The Albian Stage of the Early Cretaceous) and include forms varied and wonderful, from “Pancake Croc” (Laganosuchus thaumastos) that was supposedly an ambush piscivore (fish eater), lying open mouthed for hours or days until an unsupecting fish swam into it’s jaws, to “Boar Croc” (Kaprosuchus saharicus); a 20 foot long obligate carnivore whose comparative anatomy suggests it could literally bowl over its prey before dispatching it with its one metre long jaws.
Here’s the link to the Times article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/biology_evolution/article6923503.ece
and an old, but related National Geographic article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/supercroc/sereno-text/1