I may be just a kid, but I am smart enough to realize that New York State loves using the concept of evolution to test their students. They may not say “evolution” outright but in my mind “change over time” = evolution. Even the teachers know that on the ELA tests, there is bound to be at least one “change over time” question. On some of our practice tests, the whole essay is targeted to the character’s “change throughout the story.” I assume that even if NYS doesn’t realize they’re using evolution-related concepts in their major tests, they know they are using an awesome idea! Technically, they are testing students, teachers, schools and entire districts on how to comprehend evolution. They might as well have given students David Sloan Wilson’s “Evolution for Everyone” and asked for the change over time from the book. NYS, even not fully understanding evolution, knows that it is a simple way to test students. Some of the questions on the test actually said “a change over time.” This is sort of a good thing, though, because the teachers whose jobs are on the line know what to work on and what to expect. I wonder if the state read “Evolution for Everyone,” if they would then see that their test is aimed towards evolution. They really should attend an evolutionary conference. I don’t exactly know who the state is, but whoever writes the questions loves evolution – perhaps without really knowing it. And even though they love it, the state should know what evolution really is and what it does for the world. In Dan Kruger’s talk during the “evolution in education” workshop at NEEPS, I learned that although many citizens are interested in evolution, very few actually understand what it is they are interested in. Honestly, we should just hand out “Evolution for Everyone” to the world and we evolutionists would be all set. That would solve the love but non-understanding of the amazing evolution. Maybe next time the testing time rolls around, someone from the state will have read David Sloan Wilson’s outstanding book and will fully understand their own questions!
NEW! Evolutionary Tidbit of the Moment
In seemingly unrelated languages from every corner of the globe, the word corresponding to "mother" contains a sound like /ma/, as in "amma," "mama," or "ima." Father words tend to have the /pa/ or /ba/ sound, like "appa," "abba," "baba," or "papa." A discarded hypothesis held that the words for "mother" and "father" had remained largely unchanged from a proto-language from which all modern languages evolved.
The currently favored explanation is that these are the first sounds infants are able to make, with /m/ being slightly easier (and thus developing sooner) than /p/ or /b/, explaining why the primary caretaker (usually the mother) tends to be referred to by words which sound like "mama" in languages all the world over.