Evolution and the Structure of Worldview Change

  • David E. Long
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 4)


As we know, as life changes ideology and worldview can change, although many times not. Receptivity toward evolution can follow suit. Respective of the recent move in science educational research to consider worldview, this chapter illustrates stark examples of students’ worlds in flux, and the terms by which conceptions of science change. I present three case studies that show how ideology and commitment toward evolution changes when one’s worldview is rearranged by the contingency of social life. In each of these cases, it was by dramatic upheaval or constant tension outside of the influence of science education. For two students, moving one’s position toward evolution required quite dramatic ontological shifts. For a third, maintaining an inclusivist view requires negotiating diametrically opposed perspectives within their immediate social life.

Reshaping ontology is neither easily done nor almost certainly quickly or instrumentally “taught.” In fact, it makes better phenomenological sense to think and talk of how evolution can become reasonable to a person. In the careful retelling of these three case studies, the often painful contingency of student lives shows how this happens, along with its social costs. Using Anne Swidler’s sociological model of “strategies of action,” I detail how the structured possibilities of our cultural lives to a great degree determine the parameters of possibility for social action and understanding that we often see for ourselves. Moving conceptual change theories of science education along to a more nuanced position, this chapter articulates the social and relational changes that are in play as students develop their understanding of science. Worldview change, and the reformulation of concepts that may come along with them are not value free, nor are they free of social effect.


Religious Practice Liberal Theist Biology Class Biology Major Ontological Position 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Middle, Secondary, Reading and Deaf EducationValdosta State UniversityValdostaUSA

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