Evolution and the Public School System

In my government class today, we were discussing court cases having to do with the Bill of Rights, particularly the freedom of religion. Two cases that caught my attention were Epperson v Arkansas (1968) and Edwards v Aguillard (1987), both of which had to do with the teaching of evolution in schools. For those of you who don’t know about these court cases, Epperson v Arkansas was over a law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools, while Edwads v Aguillard dealt with a law stating that if a school teaches evolution, then they also need to teach creation science. In both cases, the laws in question were ruled as unconstitutional. (For more information on these cases click here and here)

This got me interested in learning more about the stance public schools are taking with teaching evolution. In my research, I learned that thanks to Epperson v Arkansas, a state cannot ban the teaching of evolution. They also cannot require that creation science be taught for an equal amount of time that evolution has been taught. The judge in a 1982 district court case known as McLean v Arkansas wrote that creation science “…cannot properly describe the methodology used as scientific, if they start with a conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation.” This statement points out an important fact: they started with a conclusion, not a hypothesis, and despite many scientific discoveries resulting in eveidence disproving that we are here because a supreme being put us here.

According to a study done in 2014 by Pew Research Center, “roughly six-in-ten US adults say that humans have evolved over time… but only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural process.” It goes on to say “a quarter of US adults say evolution was guided buy a supreme being.” And although there’s no prove to say that it was, who’s to say that it wasn’t? After all, there’s no evidence to say that it wasn’t.

If I had to be completely honest, I’d have to say I have no idea what I believe when it comes to evolution. Why? Because I was never really taught much about it. My school barely touched on the subject. I have to do a lot more research before I can establish an opinion, but I can tell you now that I believe that evolution should be taught in public schools. In 2002, a study showed that 83% of Americans also believe this. A study done by Live Science showed that “only 28 percent of high school biology teachers followed the National Research Council and National Academy of Science recommendations on teaching evolution.”

Should schools be teaching students more about evolution and allowing them to decide where they stand on the matter, or are we doing just fine as it is? I’d love to hear what you think.

Nomophobia

Before I even start this article, I want to ask you, dear reader, what you are reading this on. Your computer? Your phone? Your tablet? Maybe even your watch? How much time exactly do you spend glued to your screen, no matter what device it is? Odds are, a lot. According to an article by The Huffington Post, people spend an “average of five hours a day” on their phones. That’s about one third of the time people are awake! I, myself, am guilty of being on my phone most of the time. And unless you don’t have a phone, it’s more than likely that you are, too.

We are slaves to our phones, our technology. When was the last time you went anywhere without taking your beloved cell phone with you? I know people that even bring their cellphones to the bathroom with them. They literally cannot be a moment without them. We have a fear of being without our phones, a fear Scientific American calls “nomophobia.” According to this same article, being without a phone can cause “feelings of anxiety” in some people. And these days, it’s easy to see why. After all, we feel like we need to use our phones for everything. To-do lists, planners, clocks, timers, reading, learning, fun, dating, communicating. Whatever we feel we need to do, there’s an app for it.

According to a study done by researchers for The Huffington Post, people check their phones “an average of 85 times a day.” At first, I couldn’t believe this. That number seemed way too large. Then I thought about it. I’m a high school senior going to a large school. I nearly collide with people every day, because they are too busy staring at their phones to look where they’re going. Even I have been guilty of doing this at times and every time I catch myself I nearly die from embarassment. 

At school, I feel so bad for the teachers who are constantly having to tell their students to put their phones away, and even worse for the teachers who have completely given up on telling them to put their phones away. You tell a student to give you their phone nowadays and they’ll laugh at you. Tell them again, and they’ll tell you that they’d rather go to the principal’s office and get a detention than give you their phone.

I was once sitting in English class when a girl asked a question. The teacher was happy to answer this question, as teachers often are. After all, teachers want us to learn. But you could tell how unhappy the teacher was when, while this teacher was in the middle of answering her question, the girl took out her phone and started scrolling through what I could only assume were her messages.

Why are we so glued to our phones? Why are we at a point where there is such a thing as nomophobia? Can the people of our society even survive a day without their phones anymore? Please tell me what you think in the comments below. 

And while you’re at it, go for a walk. No phone, no earbuds, just the fresh air and the sounds of the outdoors. Unplug for once.