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Are Schools Prepping Kids for Real News or the Opinions of Talking Heads?

Could changes in how kids are taught be responsible for the current popularity of opinion-based “news” shows?

Hillary Clinton was recently quoted as saying American news is a “bunch of talking heads that is not providing information to us, let alone to foreigners.” Instead, she watches Al-Jazeera, the Arab news.

How did people come to start accepting opinion as fact? Harken back to the  education reform that swept the country in the 1990s. That’s when facts flew out the window. Now a lot of those kids are the teachers.

My kids’ teachers were not interested in facts. The education powers that be decided facts were boring – like the news.  Accelerated learning was the new thing.  Teach kids how to make a graph before they can add one plus one.  Have them read to one another before they know how to sound out the words; who cares if they make it up?

Teachers put kids in committees to have them do a project – as a group.  Individual learning isn’t important anymore, my new teacher packet said. What matters is – the group!

Put all the markers in a bin – for the group. Don’t put the good students’ papers on the wall because it’s bad – for the group. Have the brighter students teach the slower ones, because that way the class will learn together – as a group.

Teachers became facilitators and the students were called “learners.” Teachers camouflaged their desks on the side, or in the back  of the room, where they wouldn’t be mistaken for authority figures. One kindergarten teacher told me she had to try very hard not to control the class.

Kids don’t know where the Nile River is, or the names of the seven continents, but they sure have opinions and aren’t afraid to tell you what they think.
If we want to keep news straight, without any personal bias, such as Huntley and Brinkley and Walter Cronkite used to report,  our schools will have to face the truth: Teachers need to  provide an organized body of content knowledge to students. It’s called fact-based learning. It’s information that has been documented to be true. Kids learn it and use it to form their own opinion.

They also learn that there’s stuff going on in the world that they might not know about.

All the major broadcast companies used to have foreign correspondents, Ted Koppel said in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary. Now there are very few.

It only pays to keep them at their posts if viewers are interested in what they have to say. But why would viewers want to know what’s happening in the news when they have a plethora of talking heads to tell them what to think about what’s happening?

Somewhere in the past two decades Americans  forgot how to think for themselves. We’re on a group-think band-wagon. If we don’t start paying more attention to the facts, instead of worrying about what Mike Huckabee said about Natalie Portman, or what Barbra Streisand said about President Obama, we all may end up getting our news from Al-Jazeera.

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