If you go
What: "Why is teaching, understanding and accepting evolution so hard?"
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Secular Hub, 3100 Downing St., Suite C, Denver
More info: bit.ly/NvWPyn
University of Colorado professor Mike Klymkowsky wants people to understand that evolution isn't inherently easy to understand, and teachers shouldn't pretend it is when talking to students.
He'll describe the difficulties of teaching evolution in a talk Wednesday as part of Darwin Day, a global celebration of science held on the birthday of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.
Klymkowsky is a professor in CU's molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and co-director of CU Teach, a math and science teacher preparation program.
During his talk, Klymkowsky will explain how most scientific ideas, including evolution, can be counterintuitive and hard to understand.
He said teachers should be aware that concepts such as evolution are not "obvious," and that they should spend more time explicitly addressing the parts of evolution that are difficult for students to grasp.
"These are really difficult ideas," he said. "You shouldn't pretend that they're simple or you can just be told them and roll over and accept them. You have to understand them, which is hard."
Klymkowsky said it's strange for students to imagine that animals such as mice and pika share a common ancestor that was neither a mouse nor a pika, but something entirely different.
It's similarly difficult to imagine that all living organisms share a common ancestor, he said.
As someone who spends time pondering how to be an effective teacher, Klymkowsky said he wants people to consider what it means to really understand a concept.
"The idea that random mutations and selection can produce meaningful design is a pretty difficult idea," he said. "People look at evolution as if it's easy, but it's probably as difficult to understand as quantum mechanics."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.