There's an interesting op-ed on teaching evolution in today's edition of the International Herald Tribune. The opinion piece is written by Michael Balter, and suggests that, "The best way to teach the theory of evolution is to teach this contentious history." To support this position, Balter points to a 2005 study by Steven Verhey that was published in the November, 2005 issue of BioScience, that suggested that creationist students were more likely to change their views if the curriculum directly addressed creationist objections to evolution.
Balter has been advocating this position for a while now, and his views have been discussed at The Panda's Thumb before now. Still, the position appears to be at least superficially reasonable, so it's probably worth another quick look.
In theory, I think directly addressing creationist concerns is a good idea. The issues are out in the open, and it is a simple matter to explain why these so-called-concerns are nothing more nor less than total bull. In some cases, the massive misunderstandings of biology that are involved in the creationist "concerns" can provided good jumping-off points for teaching the real biology involved - I've done that from time to time myself.
The problem comes with the question of who decides what is addressed and how. Verhey's approach was possible because it was a university course, and the professors have a great deal of leeway when it comes to establishing the curriculum. It also helped that the person teaching the course was a professional scientist, well-trained in biology. In the American public school system, on the other hand, the curriculum is set at a local level, and political interference from elected school boards is very much a possibility.
If I was confident that Balter's suggested approach would result in science being taught the way that Verhey taught it, I would be happy to support it. As things currently stand, however, I think it's a lot more likely that his approach would result in science being taught the way the Discovery Institute wants to teach it - heavy on the Jonathan Wells, light on the honesty.