This paper reviews the literature on misconceptions about evolution and the principal explanations for their origin and diffusion. Some authors (i.e., Ferrari e Chi, 1998; Mayr 1997) argue that Darwinian theory is intrinsically difficult to understand because it contains numerous abstract concepts, some of which refer to different levels of reality (e. g., gene, individual, population), and because it appeals to processes which take place within vast timescales. On the other hand, other authors (i.e., Evans, 2008) have argued the simplicity of evolutionary theory, and explain both creationists’ refusal of it and the misunderstandings of most of those who accept it, as due to some “cognitive obstacles”, that is innate or early-developing cognitive biases, namely essentialism and the teleological bias towards assuming that objects exist for some purpose or have some function. We agree with the view that evolutionary theory is intrinsically difficult, but also suggest that poor teaching may be another factor which helps account for the spread of misconceptions. To test this claim, we examined 60 third grade textbooks, some of which were published before, and some after, the introduction of the new elementary school syllabus. Although it never mentions evolution explicitly, the new syllabus offers many opportunities to deal with this issue since it includes “Earth before man” among the topics to be explored in third grade. The analysis shows that most texts (including those published before the new syllabus) sow the seeds for the development of misconceptions.

L'evoluzione delle specie nei libri di testo per la terza elementare

BERTI, ANNA EMILIA;TONEATTI, LAURA
2014

Abstract

This paper reviews the literature on misconceptions about evolution and the principal explanations for their origin and diffusion. Some authors (i.e., Ferrari e Chi, 1998; Mayr 1997) argue that Darwinian theory is intrinsically difficult to understand because it contains numerous abstract concepts, some of which refer to different levels of reality (e. g., gene, individual, population), and because it appeals to processes which take place within vast timescales. On the other hand, other authors (i.e., Evans, 2008) have argued the simplicity of evolutionary theory, and explain both creationists’ refusal of it and the misunderstandings of most of those who accept it, as due to some “cognitive obstacles”, that is innate or early-developing cognitive biases, namely essentialism and the teleological bias towards assuming that objects exist for some purpose or have some function. We agree with the view that evolutionary theory is intrinsically difficult, but also suggest that poor teaching may be another factor which helps account for the spread of misconceptions. To test this claim, we examined 60 third grade textbooks, some of which were published before, and some after, the introduction of the new elementary school syllabus. Although it never mentions evolution explicitly, the new syllabus offers many opportunities to deal with this issue since it includes “Earth before man” among the topics to be explored in third grade. The analysis shows that most texts (including those published before the new syllabus) sow the seeds for the development of misconceptions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3186551
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