Without the theory of evolution or the periodic table: India decides to eliminate key subjects from the school curriculum for children

Themes such as democracy and diversity of political parties to care for the environment have left the school curriculum of millions of children in India, prompting warning calls from the scientific community.

Neither Darwin, nor the chemical constituents of the elements that make up the world, nor the discussion of the importance of diversity in the political ecosystem They will be among the problems that more than 130 million children aged 11 to 18 will not be able to study in India for the new school year.

The news had exploded a month ago, when it was learned that evolution would be excluded from the curriculum for class 10, which includes children aged 15 to 16. After that, thousands of people signed a petition in protest, Nature magazine recalled. . However, as the new school year began in the northern hemisphere, some noted that not only was the important biology theory missing, but the biology chapter was also removed. the periodic table, energy sources and environmental sustainability.

periodic table
The periodic table of elements, a key instrument of chemistry.

But these are not the only subjects that will be diminished, since the newly named list only considers changes for students in lower courses. Older children, meanwhile, will have reductions in the knowledge taught in subjects such as geography, mathematics – such as the Pythagorean theorem – and physics where the elimination of Michael Faraday’s contribution to explain the elements of electricity and magnetism stands out.

The importance of the year in which the content of the books is eliminated is that the said course is the last in which the knowledge related to sciences is compulsory. From then on, each student decides to specialize and follow the path of biology. On the other hand, those who opt for subjects such as economics, IT or the humanities, will not be able to access these subjects, explained Deutsche Welle.

Non-scientific subjects, such as chapters on democracy and diversity, political parties and the challenges of the liberal model, were left out, as well as a chapter on the industrial revolution.

Changes are made by National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), public entity responsible for the development of textbooks and study plans in India, and has been noticed since the printing of the back-to-school editions, which began in May.

Although NCERT did not respond to direct questions from the press, on its website they clarified that the decision was based on the fact that sometimes the content is overlapped between different school years, which in some cases were very complex or others were not relevant , referring to the “rationalization of study plans”, detailed the Quartz site. In return, they ensure that the change seeks to encourage experiential learning and creativity.

In 2018, the Indian scientific world was stunned when Higher Education Minister Satya Pal Singh demanded that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution be removed from the school curriculum because “No one has ever seen a monkey turn into a human being” Deutsche Welle called back.

This raised a wave of doubts about the weight of pseudoscientific research, just as research institutions were asking for more funds to investigate these issues, the same outlet added. During the Covid-19 pandemic, more than once scientists had to come out to deny the Hindus who claimed that cow urine could cure disease animal protected by law in India.

Men dressed as Hindu deities distribute face masks during an awareness campaign against the spread of Covid-19 in Bangalore in April 2021. Photo: AFP

“Anyone who tries to teach biology without addressing evolution is not teaching biology as we currently understand it” Jonathan Osborne, a science education researcher at Stanford University, told Nature. “It’s fundamental for biology.” The periodic table, which explains how the basic components of life combine to generate elements with very different properties from each other, “is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of chemists”.

In the same line, Mythili Ramchand science professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, told the same magazine that “everything related to water, air pollution and resource management has been eliminated . (…) I don’t see how water conservation, and air (pollution), are irrelevant to us. Even more today,” he concluded.

NCERT had announced the changes arguing they would do so to ease pressure on students in the time of Covid-19. Teachers, meanwhile, hoped the cut content would return once the health crisis passed and students would return to class. However, the textbooks arrived with the same changes as before, in addition to a statement from the state entity that they would be maintained for the next two school years.

“The idea behind the new policy is for students to ask questions” Anindita Bhadra, an evolutionary biologist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Calcutta, told Nature. But he also believes that the method used “removes content and teaches less”.

Source: Latercera

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