The persistent and coordinated attack on the teaching of evolution in schools has resulted in an vigorous counter-attack being waged by teachers, scientists, and professional groups. Facts and reason seem ineffective in the battle over whose ideas dominate the minds’ of future generations. If facts aren’t enough, then what is left for us to communicate?
Evolutionary psychologists have demonstrated that evolution designed us to see the world with mental narratives which help us make sense of the overwhelming information thrown at us in our complex and quickly changing world. The stories we tell ourselves are like cliff-notes that give us just enough information to help us make daily decisions. These mental cliff-notes can be based on science or they can be based on pure fiction.
The evolutionary literary scholar Jonathan Gotschall explains in The Storytelling Animal, “little children come into the world and they learn to make up stories, to tell stories, to live inside stories, and then make believe by nature, but not by nurture. It’s as natural and as reflexive for them as breathing.” We’re equipped to create simple and often fictional stories about how the world works.
At first glance, this would seem like a major handicap for the proliferation of the scientific worldview. However, if we understand the human mind as a storytelling generator and we adapt our communication skill set to this fact, the perceived handicap now becomes a supreme advantage. We no longer need to be dismayed when religious stories overwhelms scientific explanation. Religions have had a longer time to perform, receive feedback, and revise their stories! Religious stories have had more time to co-evolve with our brains’ reward system.
The TVOL team strongly believe that evolution needs a new, master storyteller—more precisely, a new generation of master storytellers. In pursuit of its mission, TVOL is always on the lookout for excellent representations of evolution in the arts and we’ve found one in Dr. Tiffany Taylor’s new children’s book Little Changes: Meet the Rinkidinks illustrated by James Munro.
How does Dr. Taylor tell a great story of evolution by natural selection to children? She invites young readers into a land inhabited by a group of weird looking creatures who have silly names and bizarre bodily features. She explains in a light-hearted and poetic style how some of these bizarre features which only some of these creatures called Rinkdinks possess, help solve the problem of surviving and reproducing in their environments. Tiffany teaches us speciation and natural selection by barely using the E word. In the fanciful world Tiffany constructed, natural selection is the ultimate problem solver that leads to future generations of Rinkidinks. Told with wit and charm, Little Changes amuses while preparing young minds for processing the natural world with the tool kit of evolutionary science.
Read the book for free! http://www.rinkidinks.co.uk/lc/