Civic Literacy Best Learned at Home

21 09 2007

. . .informally, among family!

So much for public school defenders like Professors Reich and Apple, with their perverse theories about home education jeopardizing American civics and citizenship. (to open and read any NHEN forums, just hit “printer-friendly” in the upper right of screen.)

Forget theory, let’s look at the hard data. Your child is so smart and so good at taking multiple choice tests like the SAT that, schooled or unschooled, the Ivy League beckons — say Princeton or Yale.

But what you’ll get for that sky-high tuition and possibly a crushing debt load for the whole family, may be civic and economic “unlearning” (no, not unschooling — unLEARNING, schooling that literally takes one’s education backward, growing less learned with each year you spend with your face buried in the Ivy.)

That’s the opposite of value added — call it value subtracted.  Too bad the most thoroughly schooled folks will have trouble understanding this basic economic principle!

COD has more on the Civic Literacy Report. Take the 60-question quiz yourself; if an overblown university didn’t sabotage your actual education, you too may outscore America’s college seniors. . .



3 responses

21 09 2007
Nance Confer

Well, I got a very rushed, very tired 80% yesterday. There were a lot of economics questions. All related, of course, but some had the feel of having a definite point of view.

I liked the way they used “representative democracy” as opposed to the “democratic republic” phrasing in favor among our more conservative brethren.

But just asking things with that wording difference is a point of view. . .


21 09 2007

Yep, most standardized testing has that problem (among so many!) and I’m not certainly cuddling up to it all of a sudden — but for those who DO live and die by that sword and demand that kids should, who insist that it makes schools accountable, etc, they’re gonna have a really hard time squirming out of this one . . .

23 09 2007

A “civic literacy” wording shift caught my eye, from a young black female sports columnist for ESPN:

People are locking in on this incident because it’s supposedly our chance to get it right. African-Americans realize that supporting O.J. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. White folks want a chance to say, “See, I told you so.”

I just hope we know that revenge does not equal justice.

Completely apart from the policy issues and opinions, what does her LANGUAGE mean? Does she “get it right” or is there injustice and imbalance embedded in the very words she chooses to call for justice and getting it right? Will a dictionary and a lawbook give us all the answers we need to think about that? Nope.

PC race labels can unbalance language (and thought?) between what SHOULD be two perfectly parallel sentences:

“African-Americans realize that supporting O.J. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. White folks want a chance to say, ‘See, I told you so.’ “

“African-Americans” is a language label that does not parallel “white folks.” What shift in meaning, if any, is caused from purely parallel language, either “black folks” to balance “white folks” or perhaps the more formal balance of African-Americans with Caucasians? (Caucasian-Americans would be even more formally fair and balanced but I’ve never once, ever, heard that, just now realized that imbalance myself, isn’t American an equally fair modifier for all citizens of any color, hmmm . . .)

Indeed revenge does not equal justice, not for white-on-black charges against Duke Lacrosse players any more than black-on-white beatings and murder by Jena teens or the Juice.

So parallel, balanced sentencing should help us “get it right” in terms of social justice — AND linguistic justice. Call it a pun. 🙂 Sentence in prison terms, and sentence in language terms.

Black and white justice isn’t just a matter of court sentences being perceived as fair and balanced. And it sure isn’t “black and white!”

Society’s language code — our social thoughts and how we express them — is important too. It needs to be fair and balanced in a fair, balanced society, which I hope is what “politically correct” speech was originally meant to be. Unfortunately we don’t own it for ourselves and exercise it as civic literacy — we just pick it up informally, and then use it to inflict blunt force trauma on other citizens! We hit each other over the head with it every time we open our mouths.

If schools aren’t helping kids develop that skill, so as Thinking Citizens they can informally help each other with language balance to “get it right”, then society may keep getting the other kind of balance wronger and wronger.

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