Mendel in the Modern Classroom
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- Smith, M.U. & Gericke, N.M. Sci & Educ (2015) 24: 151. doi:10.1007/s11191-013-9629-y
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Mendel is an icon in the history of genetics and part of our common culture and modern biology instruction. The aim of this paper is to summarize the place of Mendel in the modern biology classroom. In the present article we will identify key issues that make Mendel relevant in the classroom today. First, we recount some of the historical controversies that have relevance to modern curricular design, such as Fisher’s (Ann Sci 1:115–137, 1936/2008) claim that Mendel’s data were too good to be true. We also address questions about Mendel’s status as the father of genetics as well as questions about the sequencing of Mendel’s work in genetics instruction in relation to modern molecular genetics and evolution. Next, we present a systematic set of examples of research based approaches to the use of Mendel in the modern classroom along with criticisms of these designs and questions about the historical accuracy of the story of Mendel as presented in the typical classroom. Finally, we identify gaps in our understanding in need of further study and present a selected set of resources that, along with the references cited, should be valuable to science educators interested in further study of the story of Mendel.