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Evolution ChallengesIntegrating Research and Practice in Teaching and Learning about Evolution$
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Karl S. Rosengren, Sarah K. Brem, E. Margaret Evans, and Gale M. Sinatra

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730421

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730421.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 February 2020

“Two-Thousand Years of Stasis”

“Two-Thousand Years of Stasis”

How Psychological Essentialism Impedes Evolutionary Understanding

(p.3) 1 “Two-Thousand Years of Stasis”
Evolution Challenges

Susan A. Gelman

Marjorie Rhodes

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how psychological essentialism poses a set of conceptual obstacles to a full grasp of evolutionary theory for ordinary (non-expert) children and adults. Specifically, this chapter describes five essentialist assumptions that are common in everyday thought and are inconsistent with evolutionary theory, including: assumption of category stability and immutability, assumption that category boundaries are strict and impermeable, failure to understand within-category variability, by either denying its existence or treating it as ‘noise’, treating causes as inhering in individuals rather than resulting from population-level forces, and viewing categories as progressing toward an ideal state. Some of these obstacles impede acceptance of evolutionary theory; others impede understanding evolutionary theory. The chapter concludes with speculations about implications for science education.

Keywords:   essentialism, understanding evolution, accepting evolution, categories & concepts, science education

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