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May 06, 2014

Video Report on Rialto School District's Odd Homework Assignment

Via Hot Air, more about the homework assignment from hell. Video at that link (but the video will keep playing and playing if you don't shut it down).

This .pdf contains the actual assignment. Note page 6, which begins "Even the diary of Anne Frank is a hoax."

The assignment claimed to be an exercise in analyzing propaganda:

The lesson plan, designed for eighth-graders, was supposed to help students analyze propaganda.

"When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence," the assignment read. "For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain."

The assignment then asked students to explain whether they "believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain."

The basic idea of "analyzing propaganda" isn't a bad one... for much older, more sophisticated kids. The kids to whom this assignment given were eighth graders.

Eighth graders barely even know what The Holocaust is in the first place.

Someone who knows very little about the subject will naturally find the "Other Point of View" pretty powerful because he doesn't know anything. He has no already-established historical database in his head.

Again, this is part of my basic complaint with the "Core" pedagogy: Having failed at teaching kids the most basic elementary information possible, such as when WWII was fought, and why, and so on, educational professionals have decided that the key to doing their jobs better is to become more ambitious in what they teach. Now, instead of teaching kids that WWII began in 1939 and ended in 1945 and that America entered the war in 1942 after the December 7 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor, we have kids that know practically nothing at all being asked to "analyze" the claims of people who, while ignorant, actually do know more than the kids themselves, and hence seem to be "authorities."

The teachers who came up with this new standard of excellence in civil service (and it took a gaggle of them, apparently) will undergo "sensitivity training."

I think the problem is deeper than a lack of sensitivity. The problem just seems to be one of incurably low competency, and any alleged reform will have to be informed by the simple fact that you can't ask people who barely got out of college themselves to rise to the level of star college professors.

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posted by Ace at 01:22 PM

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