This inexplicably anti-Communist ranting at FSTDT got me thinking of one pretty crucial detail that the Intelligent Design movement wanted to push:

You must first of all present the information of both sides, and let the young people exercise their critical thinking skills. Let them make up their own minds!

This has always been the stated goal of the Intelligent Design proponentsists. “Teach all sides of the issue!” “Teach critical thinking!”

The only problem is that the ID crowd doesn’t seem to have any idea how the hell they’re going to accomplish this goal. Getting the material to textbooks does seem like a fairly sensible first step - but they never, ever, seem to get beyond that step.

Why? Because the only sensible second step isn’t what they want. They don’t want to think of the tests.

The tests taken in the course should test how well the kids understand the course material. Conventional wisdom, right? But if you just write a test that asks about all possible viewpoints, you’ve obviously failed at the teaching task. You were supposed to teach critical thinking, remember?

If you teach critical thinking skills, then the kids have to demonstrate in the tests that they’ve applied that critical thinking in their own lives. You can’t expect them to pass the course unless they’ve demonstrated that they understand what the course was supposed to be about. Learning isn’t supposed to be about mechanical memorising facts, it’s supposed to be about getting skills that can be applied in real life. You can teach the kids Intelligent Design, but if they apply their critical thinking skills, they suddenly realise that there’s just too many holes in that explanation and that the theory of evolution explains all that stuff. People don’t go to school to study useless things, they want to learn things that help them survive in this world of ours.

So by all means, include “all points of view” in the textbooks, as long as you also test whether the kids have practical understanding of scientifically viable things. Teaching the history of the science is very important, because this way you get to see the solutions that failed. If the kids can explain, in their own words, why Intelligent Design is a failure and why the theory of evolution makes much more sense, then the schools have succeeded.