What IS going on in Scotland? According to the Sunday Herald, the Scottish Qualifications Authority -- which sets the curricula for non-degree further education -- is seriously considering making intelligent design taught on a par with evolutionary science.
""The Sunday Herald has learned that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is considering provision for the theory as part of a review of the science course curriculum.
Intelligent design (ID) is one of a wide range of theories of origin currently taught as part of the Religious, Moral and Philosophy Studies (RMPS) SQA course, but could be moved elsewhere as part of the review. A spokesman for the SQA said: "It happens to sit in RMPS just now. If and when it does becomes part of the curriculum for science, which it may well do as part of this review, then that's where it could sit.""
Whut? Nobody just decides to do that - ID is a religious idea, creationism warmed up with no added science, as a recent court case in the US has comprehensively shown. Even in America, ID's natural home and the place where it's politically acceptable to be a science-denying religious bigot, it's getting nowhere (they recently asked all the Republican candidates for the presidency whether they believed in evolution. Three didn't. Imagine that in the UK). And now Scotland, the home of the Enlightenment, demonstrably the place where rationalism first swept superstition and supernatural nonsense out of power, is "reviewing" it? Someone somewhere has an agenda.
Deep strangeness. I do wonder if there's any connection with the recent appointment of Dr Janet Brown, who is an engineer/physicist who spent eighteen years in the US. It is a fascinating and informative fact that what support ID has among the intelligent is focussed among engineers, lawyers and mathematicians (not, you'll note, biologists) - and we could spent a happy few hours mulling that over. Or it could be that someone with a lot of money is leaning on the SQA - it's also a fascinating and informative fact that deeply conservative businessmen tend to like ID and wish to promote it.
Whatever, it isn't based on the science of ID. ID has no science.
That's not the only oddness one finds when looking through the website of the SQA with a skeptical eye. For example, there's the DIVA initiative, which is (and I quote), a "world class digtital collaboration to help young Scots". One trusts that development of a world class digtital spelling checker is high on the agenda.
And what is DIVA? Well...
"The trail blazer for the DIVA approach was a three year Memorandum of Understanding signed with Microsoft in 2004, which has enabled a publicly shared plan for incorporating elements of Microsoft courseware, resources and certifications into SQA framework in areas such as PC Passport. The approach trialled with Microsoft has led to the definition of a generic engagement and partnership framework which is now being applied to other world leading ICT and digital media vendors."
That's right - your state educational body is now building its vocational standards around Microsoft. It's not just Microsoft, of course - that wouldn't adequately reflect the rich, diverse world of IT or give students the range of experiences necessary to make good judgements when it comes to technology. No, as well as Microsoft there's CompTIA (no relation), Apple, Oracle, Cisco and Macromedia - all who won on a competitive tendering basis (well, you see, SQA has to be profitable. You think education's some sort of charity?).
They all get the chance to partake in "the development of new awards in ICT and digital media and expansion of existing awards, the inclusion of new learner support materials from industry into all levels of ICT and digital media education, the professional development opportunities for Scottish teachers and lecturers to train in the latest technologies and courses, and the development of learning pathways for new career opportunities in ICT and digital media industries, in line with the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF)."
Lovely. Oracle, Microsoft, Apple: couldn't think of better hands guiding our next generation of IT professionals.