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Evolution and the Controversy: Existential and Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Newall, Emma; (2021) Evolution and the Controversy: Existential and Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Doctoral thesis (Ed.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The teaching of evolution has been consistently associated with controversy and has been the source of a great deal of debate and research in the science education community across the world. Much of the relevant research scholarship has highlighted the significance of religious belief in this debate. However, little research has looked at affective responses to evolutionary concepts that may in turn explain the rejection of the scientific explanation by some people, irrespective of whether or not they have a religious faith. In this thesis I propose that the concepts presented by evolution can be perceived as potentially disturbing to all; ideas about change, uncertainty, absence of purpose or plan, extinction and struggle, as well as challenges to identity arising from the emphasis on our place in the natural world alongside other animals. Drawing on a psychoanalytical theoretical framework, I have used Free Association (FA) in narrative interviewing to examine novice educators’ unconscious and conscious emotional responses to evolutionary concepts. My findings suggest that for many, the ideas inherent in evolution reveal disturbing existential questions, irrespective of whether they have a faith or not. I propose that the role of existential concern, its impact on our relationship with the natural world, and our emotional response to evolution have not been fully appreciated. I suggest affective and existential issues require greater examination in the context of teaching and learning about evolution and that this research highlights the importance of dialogue and trust in the classroom.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ed.D
Title: Evolution and the Controversy: Existential and Psychoanalytic Perspectives
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129572
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