Schools teach evolution because it is the basis for biological life. The same way that geology, biology and all courses are taught, people need a fundamental grasp of the way the world works in order to comprehend it. The earth and its formation, the pattern and order of the fossil record, the newest findings in archeology and anthropology, all touch upon how plant and animal species were created.
Also of great importance today, is the record of climate change historically, so science can map and model how earth has been impacted by animals, changing regions that have gone from swampy to ice age, and more. Learning the impact of something like agriculture over tens of thousands of years builds a comprehensible guide to the past and the future.
Therefore, it is of crucial importance that children (and some adults) learn to examine the evidence, think critically and make their own judgments about correct choices for critical information and knowledge. For example, in the field of epidemiology, which studies world wide patterns of illness, knowing the evolution of the microbes and virus is imperative. The vectors in pandemics and the incubation period tells people how to go about containing and eradicating dangerous pathogens. In labs, basic knowledge evolution is absolutely understood so that cures can be sought.
There is much debate and controversy about the “theory” of evolution. This is mostly due to a simple misunderstanding that people have about scientific theory. In science a theory is a hardy and vital on-going view of what the science has supported so far. In the general population, however, the word theory means something akin to “just a guess.”
The theory of gravity, for example, would just be one of many guesses as to why we do not float about in the air. But a theory is a much more established set of rules, or natural laws then that, in the sciences. Perhaps in the mind of the lay person, the theory of evolution should become referred to as one of natural law, as it commonly is for gravity and motion.
It is important for students to not only learn the fundamental facts of being members of the animal kingdom, because our belonging to the creation has never been of greater importance to the survival of the human species. Human dependence upon bio-diversity depends upon humans seeing themselves as vital, reciprocal organisms that need to protect other organisms, as all are related.
Those who object to knowing humans are primates, need to also examine any discomfort with being so. It implies that humans think they are somehow less special just because we share common ancestors and DNA. However, that humans belong to the planet matters, so that they can do a better job of learning all of nature’s laws, such as no trash, waste, or toxins, and how to protect our earth lungs, circulatory systems and other inter-related life systems.
When all of these things are examined together, they help students learn the wonder and critical thinking skills necessary to master the ability of learning itself. It also lets students view the grandeur of the creation from a very privileged belonging.