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Dangers of Speedy Opinion-Forming

April 11, 2016

We form opinions way to fast in our society. Perhaps we trust others and base our opinions on theirs. That’s one of the reasons I left the Republican Party (though Democrats do it too). Perhaps it’s because we no longer wait for information critical mass to be achieved before landing on an opinion.

Take Common Core, for example.  I’ve seen a few math problems that are way too much like I do math and therefore must be a bad thing. But do I really know enough to form a positive or negative opinion? Not even close.

I have made several assumptions about it. For example, I suspect politicians are tired of the US ranking so low in global rankings of education. They are under the impression that such rankings matter. They don’t. They aren’t based in knowledge or education, but in grades and test scores, neither of which really matter. Learning exists when behavior changes, not when tests are passed. Grades mean little when most students are unmotivated.

The political answer is to demand more tests, and tie funding to test scores. Teachers start teach to the test, so their little dears can pass them and appear to be learning things, instead of, you know, learning things.

Or I look at the math examples and assume all courses are that backward.

All of these are reasonable assumptions, but they are still assumptions.

Is Common Core a good idea? Darned if I know. I bet some of it is just fine.  I thought No Kid Left Behind was bad because of testing, testing, testing, but is that the basis of CC?  Beats me. In general, I don’t think one-size-fits-all policy is good policy, yet again, is that what CC is? If CC is just a list of standards kids should know, that’s ok.  If it’s just centered on tests and results, and you-must-teach-this-way-with-this-curriculum, then maybe not so much. (I’m not against tests, but I believe learning should drive the tests, not tests driving the learning).

I wonder if politicians know any more about it than I do, of either party?  Do they pander to the know-nothings they want votes from? If one was for it or against it, but it was politically dangerous, would they change their stance? Does becoming electable make our politicians less effective?

This is just an example of a single policy. I think political expedience is a poor reason to do anything; but I also think taking pointers from an electorate who don’t actually have a full grasp of something is very wise either. Perhaps politicians could, I don’t know, educate us on policy issues.

Instead, a media-driven election depends on uninformed voters. And we too often are willfully uninformed.

It is to despair.

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