As secularists—by any other name—were very open about admitting, what better way is there to indoctrinate children but via that which John Taylor Gatto referred to thusly:
Is there an idea more radical in the history of the human race than turning your children over to total strangers who you know nothing about, and having those strangers work on your child’s mind, out of your sight, for a period of twelve years?
Could there be a more radical idea than that?
Back in Colonial days in America, if you proposed that as an idea they’d burn you at the stake—you mad person. It’s a mad idea!
Well, censorship comes in many forms and in our culture it comes in the form of a narrative based on emotive pragmatism. For example, the average person does not want to be thought of as being hateful thus, they will censor themselves so as to not engage in the “hate speech” de jour—and word/term restriction leads to or is a result of restriction of thought.
We had the advent of “free speech zones” which refers to predetermined parameters outside of which you speak at your own risk. “Safe places, “safe spaces” and “safe zones” are a combination of just about every form of censorship you can imagine—and many that you could not as they are being dreamed up at a whim.
We now have a “fake new” trend and since the average person wants to be well and accurately informed they will approve of censorship so as to be kept away from fake news.
Enter the claim that public schools teachers must not be at the forefront of combatting fake news i.e., that they are to promulgate censorship. Now, I know for a fact that teachers are not merely data delivery systems but become counselors, surrogate parents, friends, etc.: they take very many roles in the classroom and may roles not by choice but by the necessity of the situations in which they and their students find themselves.
The issue is that as this leaks into public schools there will be two main issue: 1) official policy and 2) how they teacher interprets the policy and also how they decide to take it upon themselves to do that which they will in fake news busting.
As a report puts it, “Even though it is not part of the standard curriculum in many places, individual educators are taking it upon themselves to build more lessons about consuming news.”
So, will we see policy whereby public schools get marching orders from politicians as to what is and is not fake news, will reporting systems be established whereby to report teaches and children who are spreading supposed fake news? Just how will it all work out? I certainly know not at this preliminary stage.
Yet, here is a sample of that which is leaking into the schools.
Chris Dier is a history teacher in Chalmette High School in Chalmette, Louisiana. One of his students asked him if he was aware that Hillary Clinton was “using pizza places to traffic people”—#pizzagate alert: call the fake news police!!!
Well, in this case he should simply say, “This is a history class and that is not relevant” yet, the child may then bring it up in their political science/social studies class and I would image that rather than turning the class into one about the sorted details behind the pizzagate claim, it will be labeled fake news, the student as a fake news spreader and let us get back to leaning how America’s founders were evil.
Maker-Media Specialist and Information Technologist at Shorecrest Preparatory School, Courtney Walker “co-taught the lesson with a history teacher, who opened the class by talking about what happened at Comet Ping Pong.” But, pray tell, whence did they get their info, how did they present it, etc. who knows? They basically have an authoritative role before a captive and much less informed audience and they get to claim that which they will.
One report notes, “Hoaxes, fake news and conspiracy…have created a sense of urgency for social studies teachers and librarians to teach students how to distinguish the real from the invented, to identify bias in news articles and to evaluate sources for credibility.” Very well then but we have Hillary Clinton and Brian Williams specifically warning against fake news when in fact both of them created their own fake news stories. So, who watches the watchers? Trust Clinton and Williams when they regale us with tales or when they regale us with claim that they are only interested in the facts ma’am.
The founder and president of Media Literacy Now, Erin McNeill states that “If there’s a few educated people who understand media literacy skills, that leaves a lot of people who are open to being swayed in various ways by fake news and misleading news.” Let me guess, the answer is to give Media Literacy Now huge government contracts to write curriculum.
“About a third of 18- to 29-year-olds the Pew Research Center surveyed this year reported that they ‘often’ get news from social media. Just 10 percent of people in that age group said they trust the national media ‘a lot,’ the lowest proportion of any generation surveyed.” And many get their news from late night comedians oh, and also from the national media which is just as if not more problematic. It seems that the national media aka mainstream media is being given an uncritical pass: thus saith the national mainstream media!
Associate professor at the University of Miami, Joseph Uscinski wrote the book American Conspiracy Theories is of the opinion that, as a report paraphrases him, “people convinced by conspiracy theories and fake news often approach the world with a conspiratorial mindset” and the difficulty is that Uscinski approaches the world with a conspiratorial mindset regarding people being convinced by conspiracy theories and fake news who often approach the world with a conspiratorial mindset.
He pushes the teachers as thought police angle in stating, “Educators are part of that socialization. They have a chance to make a difference. They have a chance to show kids that you should rely on lots of different of data” and I would add: as long as the public schools system’s talking points received from politicians with agendas thus saith.
Professor of educational psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford History Education Group, Sam Wineburg hits the nail on the head maybe without even realizing it in referring to teachers not being properly equipped to assist students navigate the pitfalls of the modern information age. Well, who ever said that it was their job to do so? That is the point: schools are supposed to unbiasedly teach math, history, science, language, etc. but that is not what schools are really about and we now get a clear view of this fact.
Wineburg refers to “our educational response” which means that if it goes against the dogmatic curriculum de jour then it is not an educated view and can be condemned as fake news, conspiracy theorizing, etc.
Another example of how complex this issue is that how easy it is to pitfall into folly, it is noted that the Stanford History Education Group is having “students read and listen to primary sources and interpret them. In the process, teachers help students evaluate a source’s veracity and bias.” Well, if you show me an unbiased person, I will show you a corpse. So the students, and teachers, are to employ their bias in order to “interpret” news.
Note that the group released a study titled, “Evaluating Information” which notes, “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” Fair enough but, as an example, America is a first world country with an education system that is constantly dumbing down students. Thus, cannot it also be stated that overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information in the library can be summed up in one word: bleak. Or, overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information in the science classroom can be summed up in one word: bleak. Or politics, or economics, or common sense—bleak, bleak, bleak. I mean what hope is there for public schools to be fake news buster when, for example, they teach children “scientific facts,” such as some pertaining to evolution, which were determined to be hoaxes, errors, outdated, etc. for decades if not over a century?
Considering that we live in a styled “global village” the push for teachers as arbiters (or, arbiters by proxy) of what is and is not fake news is spreading worldwide, here are some sources:
Moriah Balingit, “Debunking fake news is teachers’ latest task,” The Journal, December 11, 2016 AD
Callum Mason, “Fake news posts causing chaos in schools, warn teachers,” Deadline News , December 2, 2016 AD
Todd Kominiak, “Why schools must take the lead against ‘fake news’,” TrustED, December 8, 2016 AD
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