INTEGRATE Clarification

I am hoping that people involved with the BioLogos INTEGRATE program could make a clarification on an ambiguous description of the INTEGRATE program.

I understand the program to be designed for teachers in Christian schools. Other people read that as the program being designed for Christian teachers in public schools. The worry some people have is that BioLogos is trying to introduce religion into public schools.

What is the position of people at BioLogos as it relates to the INTEGRATE program and public schools?

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Certainly I don’t speak for BioLogos, but My impression is that as stated, it is for homeschooling and Christian schools, who have a real gap in their curriculum, not for public schools who generally have a wealth of good basic science textbooks.
However, if a Christian student is struggling with the standard texts, I see that it might be helpful as a resource. And a minefield for the teacher to walk through.

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Thanks, @T_aquaticus, for pointing out this potential source of confusion. I updated the description to say, “Designed for home educators and teachers at Christian schools, …” Better?

Because it is explicitly Christian, much of INTEGRATE is not appropriate for use in a public school science classroom (though many of the straight-up science activities would be).

That said, INTEGRATE could be a resource for Christian parents to use with their public school students. It could also be used in a religion course or in a faith-based after-school program.

There are many teachers in public schools who don’t teach evolution because they don’t feel competent to address the concerns of their religious students. These teachers could refer families to INTEGRATE when such concerns arise. Also, many Christian public school teachers may feel uncertain about how evolution fits with their own faith, and may be hesitant to teach it for personal reasons. They might choose to use INTEGRATE for their own edification, even if they aren’t able to use many of the activities in class.

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Perfect. Thanks for taking the time to clear up any confusion and for sharing your thoughts on how INTEGRATE intersects with public schools.

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When I was public school our teachers talked openly about their faith. Had a Muslim , Christian, and atheist teachers in high school that was open about their faith and often brought up parts of it that overlapped with whatever we was studying.

But I guess that’s different from what we was actually studying.

Obviously Kathryn (the expert!) has already spoken here, but yes, for further clarification for those who might stumble upon this later, this resource is designed to be alongside a regular biology textbook for those involved in Christian schooling, so they can ensure they have good science along with their observations about God’s creations!

For that reason, we don’t like to call it curriculum, because it technically is not meant to stand on its own in a school setting. But we like the term flexible because it can be used in lots of different ways–we used some of the content as devotionals at our staff meetings (back when we were meeting in real life), and could also see it being adapted by churches for small group studies, etc… So there are lots of ways to apply it. But it is certainly not meant to inject Christianity into the public school sphere.

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It kinda sounds not good to me to say that since atheism is introduced at schools. I dont know about the US but here i had many teachers who were trying to influence us with atheistic literature etc etc. They played a big role ln my atheism back in those years. I guess i could have reported them to the principal back then but i dont think there would be any consequences

Ps. I dont want to start a debate nor provoke something. We also had some other teachers who tried to push opinions on us back then. Im just sharing my thoughts

Why, is Patrick throwing a fit somewhere on the internet?

We aren’t marketing INTEGRATE to public school teachers.

But I take issue with the idea that a Christian public school teacher is forbidden to use parts of the curriculum in an appropriate way just because it is an explicitly Christian resource. Many of the lessons intentionally counter science denial that runs rampant in Christian circles by showing students science. Many of the lab activities are taken from “secular” science education websites like HHMI Biointeractive. Some of the discussion activities (like for GMOs, prenatal testing, DNA testing, CRISPR, race and genetics, effects of global warming on the world’s poor) center around general society-level bioethics and the readings and videos come from mainstream journalism sources or non-sectarian non-profits. The science parts are just science, not some modified Christian version of science. A public school teacher could certainly make use of those lesson plans. Obviously they can’t do devotionals or ask some of the explicitly Christian discussion questions, but teachers are trained to adapt materials to their teaching context. No competent teacher I know walks into a class and just reads an instructor guide. All of the student handouts are provided in the form of editable google docs that teachers can adapt as they see fit to their classroom. I guess the real question is do people trust Christian public school teachers to use a variety of resources appropriately in their public school context. I know some people do not. I don’t think it’s BioLogos’ problem that people can imagine a scenario in which our curriculum could be used in an inappropriate way in a public school.

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There is also something to be said for teachers at public schools adapting their way of teaching to the local culture so that it is more successful at teaching the content to the students. Of course, considerable caution is needed so that minority students are not alienated or railroaded in the process also. Obviously there are a lot of minefields to be navigated when doing something like this.

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At the high school level, I agree with your sentiments. Teachers should make science more approachable while also teaching students how to use critical thinking and the scientific method. At the undergrad or grad school level you do need to learn that science doesn’t bend and distort in order to comport with your beliefs and feelings, but that lesson probably wouldn’t work well in high school classrooms.

I also agree with others that it isn’t a bad idea for public school teachers to be prepared for questions about science and faith while also respecting the borders between church and state. Simple statements would probably cover a lot of ground, such as . . .

“There are lots of Christians who are also scientists and a lot of them accept evolution. I would suggest discussing these matters with your parents or with your pastor at church. Our work in this class is to understand what the theory of evolution states, and no student is expected to believe it is true.”

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I might add “necessarily” in there somewhere.

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