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Walter Bradley on Just “Memorizing Stuff” in Biology Education


As we’ve already noted, Texas recently concluded its science standards streamlining process — and adopted language that supports critical thinking about evolution.

At the November Board meeting, Center for Science & Culture Fellow Walter Bradley testified on the importance of inquiry-based science education. Dr. Bradley’s testimony is especially powerful because he discusses his own background and how just “memorizing stuff” – the opposite of critical inquiry — initially turned him off from biology.

I thought I would share this with you. He starts speaking at -3:07:05. You can click on the image at the top to go there and see and hear all of his comments. Excerpt:

In reviewing the proposed streamlining, one of the concerns that I had in looking at the things that were being dropped out were things that primarily had to do with critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving. I found that problematic for a very personal reason.

When I was in tenth grade I took biology. Biology in those days was taught as sort of a, memorize a zillion details. I memorized all the details and I made a 99 percentile on my biology achievement test and I got invited to go to three different colleges for a summer program.

And I thought, all I could imagine was just memorizing stuff all summer. I ended up not going, I just took a construction job and worked.

The point I’m trying to make here is when you teach science without providing, I think, opportunity for people to see the magic of the scientific method, the discovery opportunities, the conundrums that we have, and to see this is something that we have that’s a very active…it’s not a set of facts to be memorized. It really is a process to be understood.

Exactly. Bradley’s testimony on the biology TEKS was important, but not limited in its interest to the lead up to the Education Board’s vote. Take a few minutes to learn about his decades of experience in science and to hear his exposé on the origin of life!

Sarah Chaffee

Now a teacher, Sarah Chaffee served as Program Officer in Education and Public Policy at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. She earned her B.A. in Government. During college she interned at Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office and for Prison Fellowship Ministries. Before coming to Discovery, she worked for a private land trust with holdings in the Southwest.



biologyBoard of EducationCenter for Science & Cultureeducationevolutionhigh schoolTEKSTexas State Board of Education