My last post was full of nice flowery language, but I think its main point got lost.
What I'm talking about is creating a new framing narrative for the presentation of life sciences in education, and then expanding that narrative into other areas of study, as well. Especially literature, law and ethics -- three areas that, along with science, have a huge impact on shaping our culture and thus, our future.
Right now, the framing narrative is one of rising progression to dominance, of the inevitability of humanity. We have been taught, through old medieval and Victorian paradigms, to see ourselves as the masters of nature, rather than just one more species. This paradigm, which predates the discovery of evolution, has nonetheless been used to interpret evolution in a kind of backwards fashion, presenting it as a ladder with ourselves at the top.
But, as any paleontologist or evolutionary biologist would tell you, the tree of life is not a ladder, it's a fractal. And a darned deep one, too. Homo sapiens are just one bifurcation of that grand quasi-self-similar pattern.
In science, the first principle is "let the data speak for itself." It is always our goal to set aside our own biases and let the evidence shape our interpretations, not the other way around. We are not always successful at this, which is why we have peer review.... but that's another story.
My main point here is that the data of the fossil record and the genetic clock both tell us that nature is a community, not a zoo; a fractal, not a ladder. Yet, we have not let the implications of this insight begin to inform the rest of our civilization's institutions. We still see and treat ourselves as the intended goal of evolution.
We get this view from our educations, and have it reinforced by our institutions. I am saying that if we are to have any hope of turning things around for ourselves and the rest of the earth community, we need to change our stories, and pronto.
Hooking kids -- and even adults -- is absolutely vital to this mission. And using paleontology as the hook -- or, I'd argue, as the foundation -- of a new educational paradigm, is what I was on about down below.
"Humane education informed by evolution" will be one of the consistent themes of this blog. I hope you will all stayed tuned and spread the word.