It’s not everyday you’ll find Richard Dawkins agreeing with a priest who was hounded out of his job for daring to suggest creationists shouldn’t be totally ostracised. However, Dawkins and Reverend Professor Michael Reiss have both put their names to a demand that evolution should not be excluded from primary schools in the UK.
A new science curriculum for under-11s is being developed by the government, which is currently considering responses to a consultation that closed last week (consultation pdf). The British Humanist Association, which has gathered Dawkins, Reiss and 24 others to sign its letter to education minister Ed Balls, says:
We find it extraordinary that evolution and natural selection find no place in the section ‘Science – life and living things’. The theory of evolution is one of the most important ideas underlying biological science. It is a key concept that children should be introduced to at an early stage so as to ensure a firmer scientific understanding when they study it in more detail later on.
On the BBC’s Today Programme this morning Reiss said, “Evolution is really at the core of biology … we’re suggesting that we must make sure that this core aspect of science and biology is included even in primary schools.”
Many of those involved in science education where aghast when Reiss was forced from his job at the Royal Society after a media storm over comments he made at conference last year. At best, the media reports of his comments were misinterpreted (see: Creationism stir fries Reiss).