(COVINGTON, La.) – Throughout the week and culminating on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, Don Midkiff’s Biology classes held mock trials in the band room at St. Paul’s School over whether or not Creationism or Evolution should be taught in schools.
“The students did an incredible job showing the reality of today’s educational system,” said Midkiff, who served as judge in the trial. “It’s a great activity, and the students seem to really love it.”
For the past three years, students in Midkiff’s class have had the opportunity to work on the trial for two weeks. Once the time comes to begin the trial, they take their sides and serve as lawyers for their cause.
“Court procedures were followed. It was very coherent; both sides did extensive research, and, all in all, it was a very educational experience,” said Yehia Elkersh, who presented the opening and closing statements for the Creationist side. “Both (our opening and closing statements) went very well, especially our closing argument.”
Elkersh’s contributions to the Creationism argument aided them in their victory, in which Midkiff ruled that the presence of a creator should be taught in schools. Evolution Defense Attorney Silas Anthony was displeased by the ruling, but thought it was a fair fight.
“Our group worked very well together, and we had very solid researchers,” Anthony said. “Both sides argued their cases well, but I believe we should have won.”
Sophomore Morgan Kinch, who sat in on the trial in his Music Appreciation class period, was also displeased with the ruling.
“Creationism’s best point was on Papal Infallibility, which doesn’t apply to evolution. They weren’t talking about (Evolution),” Kinch said. “I don’t support the ruling because Mr. Midkiff is a Catholic. His viewpoint may have been skewed.”
Witness and Biology Teacher John Carambat thought that the ruling and processes were correct, in contrast, and he also supports Evolution.
“My viewpoint going into the trial was that I believed that Evolution should be taught in a science classroom in schools,” said Carambat. “Going out, I still believed that. However, I think (the trial process) was absolutely fantastic. It’s hard to get somebody excited about a concept as big and fundamental as Evolution, because much smaller things occupy their daily thoughts. So, when you teach it, some people are interested, and some people put their head down and nap and such. It made the kids really shine, and I like anything that stimulates that depth of intellectual inquiry.”
Bro. Raymond Builliard, FSC, who was also a witness in the trial, shared Carambat’s viewpoint on the beneficial nature of the trial to all who participated.
“The exercise is an excellent one, not only for learning the material, but also for learning presentation skills, how to think on your feet, and how to rebut witnesses,” Bro. Ray said. “It’s an excellent teaching method.”
Although the trial was a unique and enlightening experience for all, Bro. Ray says that it may have minimal effect on the specific curriculum at St. Paul’s.
“Trials and debates have a place in many of the different subject matter areas that we cover here at St. Paul’s,” Bro. Ray said, “but (the trial over the past few years) has not had a seismic effect in our curriculum. However, we’ll see where it goes, because there were many teachers in attendance today.”
Watch Midkiff’s verdict in the video below.