Written by James Wallin
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Topics: Education

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

image for Alarm over rise in teaching of flat-earth theory in schools as "alternative to intelligence"
The Earth - Flat?

The Spoof! can exclusively reveal that dozens of schools are using flat-earth theory teaching materials condemned by the government as "not appropriate to support the science curriculum, and, well, stupid."

The packs promote the view that there is sufficient evidence that the earth is "if not flat, then at least a bit squished", and the group behind them say that at least 59 schools are using the material as "a useful classroom resource".

A teacher at one of the schools said that it intended to use the DVDs and accompanying worksheets to present flat-earth theory as an alternative to intelligent thinking. Nye Eve, head of chemistry at Merthyr Tydfill High School, said: "Just because it takes a different angle to mainstream intelligent thinking doesn't make it any less valid. I think it's very relevant to have an alternative to intelligence."

The teaching pack, which includes two DVDs and a manual, was sent to the head of science at all secondary schools in the country on September 18 by the group Truth in Theoretical Science (T.I.T.S). The enclosed feedback postcard was returned by 89 schools. As well as 59 positive responses, 15 were negative or dismissive and 15 were found to be have been sent to pig farms by mistake.

"We are not attacking the teaching of intelligent ideas," said Stu Pidass, a member of T.I.T.S. "We are just saying that daft and infantile ideas should also have a place in the curriculum."
The DVDs were produced in America and feature figures linked to the Discovery Institute of Controversial Knowledge in Seattle (D.I.C.K.S), a think-tank that has made concerted efforts to promote flat-earth theory and insert it in to high school science lessons in the US. Last year a judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled that D.I.C.K.S theory could not be taught in science lessons. "Flat-earth theory is a moronic view, a mere relabelling of stupidity, and not a scientific theory," he wrote in his judgement, which also also supported Chinese burns and elastic band twanging as reasonable response to these theories.

It is not clear exactly how many schools are using the T.I.T.S material, or how it is being used, but the government is clearly worried. Labour MP Gordon T Gopher, a minister in the Education and Skills department wrote: "These people are clearly in desperate need of a girlfriend and we should do everything we can to provide regular sex for them to avoid this kind of nonsense being foisted on our schools."

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