Sep 19, 2016
There've been quite a few news stories lately that have caused hooplas on the internet (and politicians & organizations who take internet opinions seriously). Harambe, the Orlando shooting, BLM, Target's bathrooms, Bill Clinton & Loretta Lynch's 'Secret Meeting', etc. We live in a world so overly-connected that every news item inundates media aggregates and social media within hours, and everyone immediately has an opinion.
This post is another cautionary tale about the dangers of eliminating the Humanities from schools.
It's an oft vexing phenomenon when a student, or worse yet, a fellow teacher, gives there two cents on an issue that they read a three-paragraph synopsis of a longer article – or worse yet: just a headline. As if that was enough to give one an accurate picture of an issue. That is what our society has devolved into, however, and the lessened role of English, Social Studies, & the Humanities in general has greatly contributed to this.
A fundamental aspect of the Humanities is analysis of primary sources and critical thinking. In days long past (before NCLB, RTTT, & Common Core. Before the Dark Times.) this was part of common instructional practice. Analyzing works of literature and primary sources helped students to investigate for themselves. In these modern times, it seems as though the focus is on the teaching of technical manuals and the 'Quality Assurance' brand of standardized teaching to uniform assessments to ensure a class of Americans that are prepped and ready to take their place in the College and Career Ready Servile State.
As a result, we have the following cases:
- The Internet sends death threats to a family whose little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure. American media only provides one camera angle of the event which makes it seem that the gorilla, 'Harambe,' is attempting to help the boy. Video released in other countries shows the boy being thrown like a rag doll by the gorilla. Meanwhile, the boy's family is vilified.
- 49 people are murdered in a nightclub shooting in Orlando. References made by the shooter of his affiliation with Hezbollah and ISIS are removed from the transcript allegedly to de-emphasize extremism and terrorism, and in favour of gun control.
- A freshman in Irving, Texas builds a clock resembling a bomb and is suspended from school. The Internet loses it's mind citing racial profiling. Eventually even the President denigrates and insults the school. Meanwhile, everyone temporarily forgets that things like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virgina Tech, and West Nickle Mines have happened, and decide the school officials have been unreasonable.
. . . And then all of these events are forgotten within three-to-four months as the next 'international emergency' unfolds in the media. . .
This is the price of living in a world that doesn't teach or value critical thinking. Opinions are easily swayed and manipulated, and we lose Truth and Logic in the Sea of Talking Heads.
Resources for Social Studies Students & Teachers