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[personal profile] mightydoll
So, my son is in grade six now, and so begins the part of social studies I hate the most: current events.

Now, lest you think I'm preferring to be an ostrich with my head in the sand, I do think it's important for good citizens to know what's going on in their world. My problem is with the approach to current events that has always been curriculum approved.

Buy a newspaper (they can now use an accepted internet news source), regurgitate what the newspaper is telling you for your classmates. Make sure you parrot all the talking points, but in your own words, to show you've understood.

How does parroting show you've understood, exactly? That isn't current events, that's reading comprehension, and the LAST thing I want my kid to sit through is days of 11 year olds parroting what our media sources have to say about current events.

Take for example the news coverage of Roman Polanski's recent arrest (which my son might actually cover, since we had a long talk about it last night). By the news reports, what an 11 year old will take away is that a wealthy, powerful, man used his influence and power to rape have sex with a young girl (no mention of the fact that there are SIX counts on that record, by the way - no mention that he did so repeatedly). However, this man shouldn't be held accountable because he had a hard life (Auschwitz, the murder of his pregnant wife) and he makes great movies (which he's continued to be celebrated for) In every article I've seen, the government is wrong, wrong, WRONG to arrest him on his way to an awards ceremony, and the fact that he RAPED A LITTLE GIRL, a child barely older than the kids in my son's class, is downplayed, barely mentioned, or written off as a spot of bother way back in the 70's (a time which, to an 11 year old, probably sounds like pre-history). Rape aplogism at its height.

The thing is, all newspapers are like this, they ALL have a tilt, and kids aren't expected to comment on the stories, they aren't expected to go to several sources for the stories (they're too young for in depth research, I assume - I'd certainly have issues with age-appropriateness if they were expected to do that level of research, in addition to all their other homework - which is significant) and they aren't taught how to look at them objectively (they are taught that about advertising, but there's very much the idea that reliable news sources are reliable).

I remember trying to bring my own questioning of news stories into the classroom in grades 6-10. Each time I was told I was meant to regurgitate, not comment. I was lectured on my own "journalistic integrity", ignoring the journalistic integrity of the articles themselves. I was meant to be a "reporter" not to give an editorial.

I would like to see what happens if my son gives an editorial, but I don't have high hopes that it'll effect his grade in a positive manner.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Dis/agreements? I welcome feedback on this one, cuz I'm struggling with coming to grips with it.

on 2009-09-28 08:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kattale.livejournal.com
I would suggest talking to the teacher about your concerns, armed with a sensible, age-appropriate suggestion on how you would like this class to approach current events.

It may be that the most age appropriate way to approach the topic *is* reading comprehension - while building an awareness of the reporter trying to sway your perception - and taking one (of the many) reports each week to question, and see if there are other ways to look at it critically (even without researching other info).

I'd love to see how the teacher handles this report if he does it.

I'd be curious to see how the teacher would handle the somali pirates.

Eeeeeep - bad timing, if an election comes up. Talk about horrible events to have to discuss. :(

on 2009-09-28 10:15 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] papertowlbtrfly.livejournal.com
You should have him cover the G20 quoting in his report, and using as his only source, the Globe and Mails coverage of it. However, make him a montage of the camera phone footage of protester beatings, etc. from philadelphia to play in the background on a lappy while he reads his report.

You could also have him use fox news as a source, well, on anything!

on 2009-09-28 11:33 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] papertowlbtrfly.livejournal.com
pittsburgh (selected wrong spell check)

on 2009-09-28 10:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] serpentrose.livejournal.com
Find a way to tell them that your son needs to be excused from the class because it's against your religion.

on 2009-09-28 11:38 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] metalana.livejournal.com
I find it easiest to find errors in a news article when I was personally involved in the event. Similarly, wikipedia looks a lot less accurate when I have expert knowledge of the topic.

Your son might have expertise in some scientific area. If you find a newspaper article about it, he may be able to poke holes in it. It might not count as "current events" and it might not happen for this week's assignment, but it would probably teach something important.

on 2009-09-29 03:30 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kettunainen.livejournal.com
yeah... this is one of the reasons I can't stand mainstream public schooling. I wish I could be of more assistance to you but I got nothin'. I completely agree with what you're saying here, and it has frustrated me, too. I feel I never really learned critical thinking via the school system. I was just somehow magically supposed to pick it up somewhere along the way. Regurgitation-style assignments never helped.

on 2009-09-30 01:42 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] willowsong.livejournal.com
Yeah like kettunainen... I don't have much in the way of adding to this, but I totally agree with you. I hate it when school limits thinking like that. My kids aren't old enough to experience it yet but I remember stuff like that from when I was in school and it irritated the hell out of me.
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