revealed to me that I had no idea how science worked.” One day one of his thesis advisers asked him what hypothesis he was testing with his research. Strode gave her an answer, and she replied, “No. Those are your predictions. What are your hypotheses?” He reformulated his answer, and she said, “No, you’re still giving me predictions. You don’t know what hypotheses are, do you?”
“That was almost the deal breaker for me,” Strode recalled. “I almost walked home and quit because I thought, ‘What am I doing—and what have I done for eight years as a high school teacher—having no idea that science is a hypothesis-based form of inquiry?’”
Strode finished his doctorate and moved to Boulder to teach high school with a whole new outlook. He realized that many of the lab activities he had done in his first eight years of teaching were canned experiments where the outcome was obvious; if students did not get the right answer, they were worried. He started designing activities where the data were messy and the outcome was unknown. He realized that his students were smart enough to learn about statistics, so he taught them about confidence intervals and the analysis of variance.
He also was asked to co-author a book called Why Evolution Works and Creationism Fails (Young and Strode, 2009). “That forced me to realize that I wasn’t doing as good a job as I could teaching evolutionary theory in the classroom.” He began teaching evolution every day so that the subject was woven throughout the curriculum and was not confined to a single unit at the end.
To avoid the problems he experienced, said Strode, teachers need preparation courses on both evolutionary science and on avoiding denialism, whether the subject is evolution, climate change, vaccination, or any other controversial subject. They also need to understand how science works and how that relates to the teaching of evolution. The solution, he said, starts “with kids understanding how science works and teachers understanding how science works and teaching teachers in a more effective way.”
Betty Carvellas, who taught science for 39 years at the middle and high school levels and who served as a member of the authoring committee of Science, Evolution, and Creationism (National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, 2008), taught her students that they do not necessarily need to “believe” in evolution, but they do need to understand the scientific evidence demonstrating that evolution is a fact. She would not have been comfortable saying this early in her career, but when she did become comfortable doing so, it allowed her to do two things. It