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Friday, March 06, 2015

Losing our moral compass and elementary education

An eye-opening essay from a college philosophy professor with a second-grade child makes an interesting claim. That claim is that second-graders, and others, are taught that there are two mutually exclusive things: facts and opinions. (Also known as facts and beliefs.) Furthermore, they are taught that value claims are opinions. But classroom rules, such as "you shouldn't copy someone else's work" are value claims. So there is a logical mess imposed on children by their teachers, and the educational system, that most teachers don't perceive. And, says the author, it's no wonder that college students think that there are no moral absolutes -- they are all opinions.

The article gives examples of ideas that are both facts and opinions, and his examples are easy to understand, and convincing.

I think the man is on to something.

I'm not an expert on the Common Core, and I don't think the author is, either. He says that the Common Core standards impose this dangerous distinction. No doubt they do, but my understanding is that elementary students were taught such distinctions before the Common Core was ever thought of. It is important to understand when someone is stating an opinion which is not based on truth, such as, unfortunately, most of the advertisements on TV, for example.

The author teaches philosophy of religion at a public college. He says nothing about Judaeo-Christian beliefs, as such, in his article. Which, by the way, appeared on an opinion page in the New York Times.

Thanks for reading. Read the article.


Weekend Fisher said...

The "values are always mere opinions" thing has been taught in public schools for quite awhile. I know my kids both were taught it; one is a young adult now, and the other a senior in high school.

Oddly, they have no trouble teaching "slavery is wrong" as an objective fact, and "the idea of wrong is always a mere opinion" in the same classroom ...

There are a few inconsistencies in the curriculum. ;)

Take care & God bless

Martin LaBar said...

That's what I thought about the length of time that this sort of thing has been taught.

Yes, there are.

My guess is that this started for good reasons -- to inoculate kids against unfounded advertising claims and scams. And we still need that, for sure. But it has had the unintended consequence indicated in the article.