Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Boy Do We Need Argument

My wife and I recently had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Europe - without the kids - for an amazing vacation.  Besides, the plethora of historical landmarks and unique cultures we encountered, there was one more discovery we made that was earth shattering.  Watching the BBC in London we came across a story on Palestine that did something rarely - if ever - seen on US television.  It was a story that understood that the issue had two sides!  Imagine that!  The story was told of Palestinian families who have suffered from the actions of Jewish settlers and the Israeli leadership.  However, the show fully acknowledged that these Jewish settlers had a compelling point of view and logic for their own actions.  What was most revelatory about this show was it's clear objectivity and desire to simply understand the various points of view and stories that were represented in this conflict.

One of the elements of Common Core Standards that I heartily embrace is the emphasis on argument, including the ability to marshal evidence in support of a position, and especially the ability to understand counterarguments and address those facts and opinions clearly and explicitly.  Unfortunately, our children have some huge barriers to overcome, namely adults who can't do this AT ALL.  We are a biased and unthinking lot at times, led by talking heads who scream at one another and listen not one iota.  Chris Lehmann underscores one clear example of how we have an aversion to healthy debate and differences of opinion.  So, educators, embrace this opportunity to train a new generation of clear thinkers and reasoned debaters.  The opportunity to improve our community life is right before our eyes if we truly embrace the spirit of argument.  Our students will benefit from learning to carefully consider all sides of an issue and make determination based on the facts and a clear sense of logic and reasoning.  

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