Great Teachers Can't Save America's S...

Great Teachers Can't Save America's Schools

Posted in the Stroudsburg Forum


Tunkhannock, PA

#1 Feb 11, 2013
Great Teachers Can't Save America's Schools

"Get better teachers in the classroom" is a mantra that is easy to sell. But we think our schools and colleges will be better served by another mantra: "Make argument the center of the curriculum."

"One of the greatest strengths of the Common Core Standards is that they go on to specify the argument skills that should be developed from pre-kindergarten to the high school years. In pre-kindergarten, for instance, students should learn to form an opinion about an experience or a text. By first grade, they should be able to give reasons that explain their opinions. From third grade to sixth grade, they should learn to structure their arguments in an essay. And as they move through junior high and high school, students should learn to map their ideas onto a larger intellectual landscape and make the crucial move of acknowledging and engaging opposing arguments.
Throughout it all, students learn that arguing is not synonymous with fighting -- its primary goal is not to destroy contradicting viewpoints, but to engage them in a way that reveals hidden dimensions of a problem. As the authors of the Standards explain in an appendix, argument requires students to employ "substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence." And:
[w]hen teachers ask students to consider two or more perspectives on a topic or issue, something far beyond surface knowledge is required: students must think critically and deeply, assess the validity of their own thinking, and anticipate counterclaims in opposition to their own assertions.
(Admittedly, we're somewhat biased, because the authors of the Standards also cite Gerald's 2003 book Clueless in Academe, quoting his observations that "'argument literacy' is fundamental to being educated" and that "the university is fundamentally an 'argument culture.'")
In this digital age, when vast amounts of data are as close as the nearest touchscreen, it is all the more crucial that schools focus on helping students make articulate arguments out of the information they can so easily access. Now more than ever before, schools need to help students do more than acquire data. They must learn how to explain that data, apply it, promote their interpretations of it, and modify those interpretations through respectful debate and discussion."

@slush- I found this article interesting in light of our recent discussion. This pretty much sums up what I mean about the value of discussion. I'm glad to see some think it worth teaching.

@LWL- imho, this is what it's all about and why you get so many negative comments here. It might be worth your while to develop the art of argument. It is not enough to simply cut and paste some other person's opinion.

@loose- I'd like to declare this thread a DMZ, alrighty?

Since: Sep 09


#2 Feb 11, 2013
The other part of the issue is the administration and IMO a big part of the problem.

Since: Sep 09

East Stroudsburg, PA

#3 Feb 11, 2013
But if they teach that what would all the liberal 'thinkers' do????

My biggest problem with modern education is they do not teach people how to learn on their own.

Argument is all well and good but people have not learned how to find information to support their arguments. What passes for 'facts' these days are nothing but propaganda and sound bites.


Bloomsburg, PA

#4 Feb 11, 2013
THe thesis of my up-coming book on education is this:

we have a perfect storm of entitlement kids and parents, risk-aversive administrators, self-serving school board directors, lying politicians and a significant number of teachers who look good by state standards but fail misably in providing an environment that fosters critical thinking, as lotta suggests here.

not all of the interest groups above are on the bad end of the spectrum, but when a significant minority is, you get dreck for your dollar.

It's what drove me out of ed

Bloomsburg, PA

#5 Feb 11, 2013
Oh...and a culture of ignorance and nascissism, too!

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