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Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:26 AM

Idiot Teacher Asked 4th-Graders to Give 3 Good Reasons for Slavery

https://www.theroot.com/idiot-teacher-asked-4th-graders-to-give-3-good-reasons-1821982084?utm_source=theroot_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

According to Fox 6, administrators at Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Wauwatosa, Wis., apologized to parents after students brought home an assignment asking them to name three good reasons and three bad reasons for slavery. One parent, Trameka Brown-Berry, found the assignment offensive and posted it to her Facebook page.

“It’s highly offensive and insensitive. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe they sent something like that home,” said Brown-Berry, apparently able to contain the God-given slapping-the-shit-out-of-fourth-grade-teachers instinct gifted to most black mothers.

School Principal Jim Van Dellen admitted the assignment was “out of line” in a letter to parents, explaining that the assignment was intended to “spark debate.”

“The purpose of the assignment was not, in ANY way, to have students argue that ANY slavery is acceptable, a concept that goes against our core values about the equality and worth of people of all races,” the letter read, despite the fact that the explicit instructions of the assignment were to ask students to argue about the acceptance of slavery.

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Reply Idiot Teacher Asked 4th-Graders to Give 3 Good Reasons for Slavery (Original post)
WhiskeyGrinder Jan 2018 OP
ollie10 Jan 2018 #1
ismnotwasm Jan 2018 #2
WhiskeyGrinder Jan 2018 #3
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #8
WhiskeyGrinder Jan 2018 #9
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #10
Baconator Jan 2018 #75
malaise Jan 2018 #20
Baconator Jan 2018 #74
countingbluecars Jan 2018 #4
ollie10 Jan 2018 #36
countingbluecars Jan 2018 #37
ollie10 Jan 2018 #39
countingbluecars Jan 2018 #71
ollie10 Jan 2018 #73
shanny Jan 2018 #60
ollie10 Jan 2018 #64
shanny Jan 2018 #65
ollie10 Jan 2018 #67
moriah Jan 2018 #72
ollie10 Jan 2018 #77
LanternWaste Jan 2018 #78
ollie10 Jan 2018 #79
LanternWaste Jan 2018 #81
ollie10 Jan 2018 #82
moriah Jan 2018 #86
ollie10 Jan 2018 #90
moriah Jan 2018 #83
ollie10 Jan 2018 #85
moriah Jan 2018 #88
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #6
Ms. Toad Jan 2018 #7
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #12
Ms. Toad Jan 2018 #14
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #15
mac56 Jan 2018 #16
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #18
countingbluecars Jan 2018 #17
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #21
countingbluecars Jan 2018 #22
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #29
Ms. Toad Jan 2018 #24
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #26
Ms. Toad Jan 2018 #91
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #92
uponit7771 Jan 2018 #76
moriah Jan 2018 #25
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #28
moriah Jan 2018 #32
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #34
ollie10 Jan 2018 #53
d_r Jan 2018 #49
AJT Jan 2018 #31
Blue_Adept Jan 2018 #51
exboyfil Jan 2018 #35
gratuitous Jan 2018 #40
ollie10 Jan 2018 #41
gratuitous Jan 2018 #42
ollie10 Jan 2018 #43
Paladin Jan 2018 #46
ollie10 Jan 2018 #47
gratuitous Jan 2018 #56
ollie10 Jan 2018 #59
Eliot Rosewater Jan 2018 #52
Drahthaardogs Jan 2018 #57
ollie10 Jan 2018 #62
Cartoonist Jan 2018 #5
Ms. Toad Jan 2018 #11
Cartoonist Jan 2018 #13
Iggo Jan 2018 #45
Aristus Jan 2018 #19
brooklynite Jan 2018 #23
Phoenix61 Jan 2018 #38
janterry Jan 2018 #27
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #30
Oneironaut Jan 2018 #84
IluvPitties Jan 2018 #33
Iggo Jan 2018 #44
moriah Jan 2018 #70
Straw Man Jan 2018 #48
MichMary Jan 2018 #50
skip fox Jan 2018 #54
ollie10 Jan 2018 #55
Iggo Jan 2018 #61
Croney Jan 2018 #68
Blue_Tires Jan 2018 #58
PassingFair Jan 2018 #63
skip fox Jan 2018 #66
KG Jan 2018 #69
Oneironaut Jan 2018 #80
SweetieD Jan 2018 #87
TCJ70 Jan 2018 #89
zipplewrath Jan 2018 #93

Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:32 AM

1. Wow. A teacher encourages critical thinking!

 

Sometimes it is good to understand the arguments of those with whom we disagree.

You could teach rote memory stuff and say slavery is wrong. And students might not understand why it is wrong. This exercise could provoke critical thinking and as such is justifiable.

And no I don't approve of slavery.

As a former teacher, however, I abhor how our curriculum has regressed to standardized test scores, rote memory and drivvel. Critical thinking has taken a big hit in the process.

Ok. Burn me at the stake!!!

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:37 AM

2. Bigotry immersed in critical thinking

Is a flawed premise and teaches nothing.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:39 AM

3. Looking forward to your curriculum on taking a critical thinking approach to whether murder is

wrong.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:51 AM

8. Ooooh, you know people actually do that right?

Take an introductory class in either philosophy or logic and you'll probably be forced to do just such a thing. Of course it would probably be a college level course.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:52 AM

9. Yes, exactly. In college.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:54 AM

10. Yeah, that's my point of view

I don't object to critical thinking instruction. This particular assignment, to these students in this grade was not really appropriate.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:18 PM

75. Could have even been appropriate but as a discussion...

Ok kids...

Nowadays we would never think that slavery is ok...

Why do you think that people back then thought it was all right?

etc.. etc...

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:22 AM

20. Excellent response

or whether torture is wrong

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:17 PM

74. *dodges the jerking knee*

That's an interesting conversation... I know a guy writing a defense thesis on military ethics and the use of drones.

In short, when and why its ok to blow up folks from the sky...

Relax...

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:39 AM

4. A good teacher can teach critical thinking

without rationalizing slavery!

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Response to countingbluecars (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:22 PM

36. Who said the teacher rationalized anything?

 

As I understand it, the students were encouraged to THINK and by THINKING coming up with arguments. You don't have to agree with an argument in order to use THOUGHT to understand.

I guess what everyone is saying is these kids are too young to THINK. They must only be spoon fed multiple choice factoids.

So what age is it allowed by the thought police for kids to be able to think?

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #36)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:28 PM

37. As I said,

There are far better ways to teach critical thinking than debating the pros and cons of owning a human being.

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Response to countingbluecars (Reply #37)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:56 PM

39. Maybe there are....do you have any better ideas?

 

Let me start by admitting that a long time ago I taught high school US History.

This was my least favorite subject when I was in high school. Mainly because alll that was "taught" was names and dates that we dutifully forgot about a day afterwards. That was until my senior year when my eyes were opened by a different kind of social studies teacher. He got us all stirred up. We argued politics, world events, all kinds of stuff. And, for the first time, it became vitally interesting to me. It wasn't all about names and dates, it was about understanding the world around us. Cool. I sure had missed a lot before that.

Long story short, when I taught history, I tried to teach it in a way that stimulated kids to think. I assigned essays. I gave essay tests. I got the kids into discussions. One of the tactics I used was playing devil's advocate. If the class was mostly conservatives I would argue the liberal voice. If they were liberal, I was Mr conservative. I wasn't trying to convert anyone. I was trying to get them to develop reasons for their beliefs, think logically, and stuff like that.

Well, what I would like to say is that if you just give kids thoughts they already have, or are familiar with....yu aren't going to stimulate thought so much. I was always trying to think of things I knew they would disagree with and I gave them a pretty hard time.

As to the assignment that is the topic today, maybe she could have used another topic....but I think there is value in presenting topics that students totally disagree with and encourage them to make logical arguments pro or con..... In this particular case, I think it likely that this is what the teacher was trying to do....rather than trying to indoctrinate them with anything. Actually, the way to PREVENT kids from being indoctrinated is by encouraging critical thinking.

Besides, this exercise may have strengthened the student's views AGAINST slavery. Without developing the arguments, maybe not so much. And maybe there is a follow-through to other similar issues like racism. A student who is simply taught racism is bad, well of course it is bad....but wouldn't it be better for a student to have thought things out and understood WHY racism (or slavery) is bad instead of simply being lectured about it?

Finally, I thank God every day I am not teaching today, with all the crap with standardized tests and rote memory.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #39)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:05 PM

71. One example I used with my fourth graders

We would read the well written, age appropriate book Pink and Say.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_and_Say

Follow up with open ended, thought provoking questions.

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Response to countingbluecars (Reply #71)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:15 PM

73. Great!

 

I am sure that had lots of learning going on!

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #36)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:49 PM

60. fucking fourth grade? puhleese.

 

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Response to shanny (Reply #60)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:52 PM

64. are you implying the teacher had sex with the students?

 

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #64)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:53 PM

65. your concern is noted

 

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Response to shanny (Reply #65)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:55 PM

67. Seriously, is the F word necessary?

 

It just makes the user look bad

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #67)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:11 PM

72. Fuck forums with fucking censors that don't fucking allow the glorious...

Word "fuck" to be used in all the ways it can by fucks who don't appreciate how it can be a noun, adjective, adverb, verb, and exclamation... fuck! I'm sure I'm missing a few parts of speech.

Seriously, this is a NC17 board, in that it's highly unlikely that any minors who aren't going to be 18 by November 2018 will be on here.

I agree that often overuse of expletives makes a person look less than bright. At the same time, sometimes it's appropriate to use a word that adds some punch to one's exclamation of derision.

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Response to moriah (Reply #72)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:19 PM

77. Using the F word like that is the surest way to make you look stupid

 

Go for it! Don't let me stop you.

Now, I would prefer logical disussions without emotional distractions and personal attacks and flaming.

But that's just me.

Go ahead and use what ever letter you enjoy. Just don't expect people out there to think you are mature

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #77)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:24 PM

78. No... not really. The best way to look stupid is to

" is the surest way to make you look stupid..."

No... not really. The best way to look stupid is to justify the teacher's actions as anything other than stupidity, deny other teaching mechanisms that would be just as, if not more effective in teaching critical thought, and pretend to know the subject matter.

But that's just me....

(That said, I'd also pretend the emotional hysteria lies with others and not me... much as you did. It allows us self-validation. Id also ignore my own logical fallacies (three), while demanding that others list their own, as it certainly assists a pretense of cleverness)

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #78)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:26 PM

79. So you are into the logical fallacy of personal attacks instead of refuting arguments. Well done!

 

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #79)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:33 PM

81. No personal attacks. So not well done, maybe rare.. or medium rare?

No personal attacks (like implying stupidity in others is-- but I undestand the desire to hold others to a higher standard we hold ourselves to). So not well done, maybe rare.. or medium rare?

(and try calming down a wee bit... the overly-emotional mind becomes driven by base instinct rather than rational thought)

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #81)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:35 PM

82. so is that why you were driven to simply call the teacher stupid?

 

It is tiresome trying to intelligently discuss academic freedom and encouragement of critical thinking when people use emotional name calling and prejudgement

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #82)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:53 PM

86. The teacher exercised less caution than they should have, certainly.

We are missing a great deal of context, and the quotation marks on the word "good" are, as several articles have said, "doing a lot of heavy lifting" Was this from a published curriculum, and what was the lesson taught in the classroom itself?

As I have said several times, I would actually see a benefit to students being presented with reasons pro-slavery people used to justify such an immoral institution -- it's more productive to teach "why people did bad things" than "bad people did things". The rationalizations used to justify slavery are still with us in prejudices that some people still hold. Teaching why those root causes of pro-slavery sentiment were misguided is beneficial to teaching why prejudices today are misguided.

But in 4th grade, kids aren't at the moral stage of development to do a "devil's advocate" argument without a lot of guidance and context about why the so-called "good" reasons the in-classroom or book lesson was listing were in fact flawed. And parents presented with so little context when supervising their child's homework would understandably be concerned about just what was supposed to be good, even "good".

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Response to moriah (Reply #86)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 03:07 PM

90. I agree with much of what you said

 

I wish the teacher hadn't used the word "good". Perhaps she was trying to "dumb down" the language to the grade level? Sounds like a bad choice of words here. I too would have preferred something to the effect of "what were the arguments to support slavery back then?" or..."name 3 arguments used for slavery and against slavery?" It sounds like the teacher meant well, and unless you have taught you don't know how hard it is (many leave the profession with a version of combat fatigue....). So maybe she just goofed, maybe it was already past midnight and she wanted to just type it out? In such a case, some constructive criticism would be in order.

However all the lynch mob mentality towards this teacher seems to be out of control. It is a very hard job teaching. And it is not easy teaching critical thinking. This teacher wouldn't have gotten into trouble if she just had her kids memorize some bunk. They wouldn't learn anything but she wouldn't have to answer for a creative teaching tool that came out with unintended results.

Constructive criticism, yes. But you lynch teachers like that and you will be scaring good people out of the profession. And it isn't as if it pays that well to begin with.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #77)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:36 PM

83. Did you not recognize the reference to a certain video?



I love the English language, and there are uses for every word. Overuse of profanity, as I said, can make a person seem less than intelligent.

But this isn't a place where children visit, so your prudishness over a person deciding to add emphasis to their expression of surprise and derision is ... well, a bit misplaced.

As is your attack against me.

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Response to moriah (Reply #83)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:44 PM

85. It's not just about kids....

 

Intelligent people rarely use the F word. On a board such as this, there may not be any kiddies there (although if you believe that you probably think kids use their computers solely for homework) but it still is in most cases stupid to use it. Not just because it makes the speaker look very dumb and immature.....it is also inflamatory. I am not a prude, but I must admit if I am at a restaurant with my wife relaxing I don't want to pay the money for the atmosphere and have some red neck idiot saying F this and F that as a manner of speech. And almost every time it is some ignorant red neck who thinks he is smart by using the F word.

Quite frankly, I am not into censorship, so I am not reporting anyone. But using the F word is obnoxious, it is inflammatory (and this is usually the deliberate intent), and you may as well write across your forehead that you are a red neck.

I have a suggestion. Next time you want to use the word Fxxk, then use the word sex instead. That is, after all, what it originally means. See how silly you sound if you use the word sex!!! Hint: yu sound equally silly using the F word.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #85)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 03:01 PM

88. Actually, I usually use fark in spoken language, and "fsck" written.

Fark came about while living with kids. Though given my friend's experience with a daycare calling her because her daughter was using "What the?" in the manner of cussing and they were sure she was saying the "f" word under her breath (wtf had been her favorite exclamation, so she tried to moderate it to "what the?" )... I have a feeling either would sound the same in a toddler's mouth.

Fsck came about because of working as a HPUX sysadmin. When drives were corrupted so badly fscks had to be run on them, the disks were probably... well, fscked. And also the hapless sysadmin who was likely to spend all night restoring the system.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:50 AM

6. I understand

Generally I agree with you. In this particular case I think the students were too young for this particular challenge.
I had a collegiate level course that did something like this. You were assigned a topic and a point of view and you had to write the paper and make the verbal argument for the position, whether it was a position you held or not. It is a useful educational tool. A fellow student of mine was assigned the "anti-MADD" topic once. It was interesting because he did his homework and made a "good" if no convincing argument. The person assigned the opposite position basically "mailed it in" and came off looking badly. It was a lesson if nothing else in being prepared, even for the obvious.

There is an english expression that basically starts out "I don't understand...". It's usually a preface to making some counter argument. I am fond of making the pedantic point that if you don't understand, maybe you should endeavor to do so prior to pontificating. It is useful to know the opposite argument, if for no other reason that to counter their points in making your own.

But for this class, and these students, it would probably be more useful if they were assigned topics with which they had some first person familiarity instead of something as obscure to them as slavery.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:51 AM

7. Teaching critical is good, but not by telling children

Whose ancestors were slaves to explain why that was a good thing.

It wasn't. Pure and simple.

I would use a different subject (one where there are two legitimate sides).

If that was impossible,for reasons I can't fathom, the question needs to be worded clearly as a thought exercise exploring arguments that might have been made - not as a request for a good reason for slavery.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:57 AM

12. It isn't clear that what was done

The actual assignment doesn't appear to have been a case of telling the students it was a "good thing". It was a case of asking them to make the case. Having to defend a position you don't hold is a useful lesson. For students of this age I think something a bit less harsh would have been more appropriate. Maybe something within their own experience level.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:02 AM

14. Follow the link to the actual assignment

Aside from putting "good" in quotes, the assignment was to provide good reasons for slavery.

When I make that kind of distinction, rest assured I have confirmed that it is accurate.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #14)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:07 AM

15. That's not "telling them"

It's asking THEM to make the argument. You'll note that it tells them to be prepared to defend the position as well. And you shouldn't be so dismissive of the quote marks either. It is fairly clear to me that the teacher understood that this was going to be a difficult if not impossible point to make. It was probably vaguely the point that was going to be made.

I don't agree with the assignment at this grade level. But teaching people to make arguments and defend positions they don't hold is a useful lesson. Ask any law student.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:14 AM

16. Law student equals grade school student?

You're grasping at straws here.

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Response to mac56 (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:20 AM

18. No

I agree the assignment was inappropriate for these students, at this level. I just don't agree that they were being taught that slavery was okay, or that this was the intent or point of the assignment. I also don't agree that it is inappropriate to teach students formulate arguments for positions they don't hold. I just think it should be done on topics with which they have some personal experience, or is from their own environment. Truth be known, it should involve some level of "research" in some sense.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:18 AM

17. Yes because we all know there are good people on both sides

per Trump. There is no defense of slavery, period.

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Response to countingbluecars (Reply #17)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:22 AM

21. There's no "good" defense

Which in these assignments is usually the point of the lesson. I wouldn't have assigned this topic to these students at this grade level. But there is value in practicing making arguments for points of view you don't hold. It is especially instructive to practice arguing "absurd" points of view.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #21)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:26 AM

22. I was a fourth grade teacher for many years.

Virginia's role in the Civil War was in our fourth grade curriculum. I taught my students that owning another human being was wrong! It was not open to debate.

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Response to countingbluecars (Reply #22)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:46 AM

29. I don't think was appropriate for this grade and age

I don't have an issue with teaching critical thinking, or with teaching students to make arguments for positions they don't hold. At this age and grade I think there are WAY better ways to do it.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:28 AM

24. You are not a fourth grader. Fourth graders will read it literally

Quote marks, or not.

As a critical thinking exercise, it is not properly framed - even if I was giving the exercise to my law students, it would have been framed historically (past tense) and as a request to make the arguments that we're used to support slavery - not give reasons it is good.

As a law student, presumably, you would fail my class if you argued that murder was good (quotes or not), rather than arguing that a conviction was not supported by the law and facts. There is a meaningful difference both in framing the question and the answer.




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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #24)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:38 AM

26. Well, and that would be part of the lesson I presume

You'll note that the student was instructed to be prepared to defend their statements. I presume a teacher would have steered the discussion towards the concept that just because one can "make an argument", doesn't mean that the conclusion is correct.

As a lawyer, one might be asked to defend a law with which they don't agree, and which may seem absurd to them. Every Solicitor General runs into this problem when they are forced to defend laws that previous administrations had passed. It's the job. I would hope that this skill was taught in law school.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:10 PM

91. Your hope is contradicted by the language the teacher chose.

s/he didn't ask them to make an argument supporting a concept. She asked them to explain why slavery was good.

I could make better arguments explaining why Loving v. Virginia did not legally require or support interstate recognition of same-gender marriage (prior to Obergefell than virtually all of the proponents (who tended to let emotion get in their way).

I can easily make the case now that discrimination based on sexual orientation is still legal - again, better than most of the proponents of legalized discrimination.

I would not, in a million years, defend marriage discrimination, or discrimination based on sexual orientation, as good. Nor would it be appropriate to ask anyone - let alone a 4th grader - to do so.

The skill of arguing that the law supports, or doesn't support, a acting in a certain way (as long as it passes the laugh test) is definitely a skill taught in law school. Defending an offensive value judgment (slavery is good) is not.

There is a difference - and Scalia represented that difference extremely well.

On any subject other than homosexuality, he effectively argued that the law supported each opinion he wrote. When the law permitted two interpretations, I universally would have come out on the other side - were I the judge. But his reasoning was legally sound, even if I would have applied a different reasoning.

On the subject of homosexuality, however, his reasoning was "homosexuality is bad" (value judgment - not legal reasoning. That was not a legal skill. It was a value judgment - and in virtually every case, once you got through the spittle he was spewing, there was no legal basis for his opinion. It was all value judgment.

The two are not the same. Students were asked to support a value judgment (slavery is good). Not a legal statement (the law permits slavery).

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #91)

Fri Jan 12, 2018, 12:24 PM

92. Kinda

She did say to prepare to present an argument. It implies there was going to be a discussion, at least of SOME of the presentations.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #24)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:19 PM

76. +1

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:35 AM

25. Unless we have the full context of the lesson....

... with it being "Here's the reasons people used to rationalize slavery, and the people doing it thought were 'good'".... which is about the only "lesson" that should lead to those questions and could explain the quotation marks around "good"

Then we really don't know *what* was being asked of the students.

And if that's what was being taught, what wasn't being taught was critical thinking because there is an obvious bias about what answer the children should give. It would be obvious that the "good" reasons weren't actually good but were excuses used to justify the injustice.

And that would be a great assignment, but definitely needs some friggin' clarification!

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Response to moriah (Reply #25)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:42 AM

28. And probably there are better ways

I think that even in the hands of the most skilled educator, this is an unnecessary topic to teach these kinds of skills. There's nothing wrong with teaching students some of the rational that was used to justify slavery. It's just important, especially at this age level, to IMMEDIATELY match that with the information that demonstrates the flaws in these rationalizations. If critical thinking is the goal, there are better paths to achieving those skills at this age and grade level.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #28)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:51 AM

32. Exactly. And if the lesson taught in the classroom DID immediately...

... counter each rationalization with the reason it was flawed...

It would be smart for the educator to preface that portion with some explanation. If what was sent home was something like "There were many people who argued for slavery, and they made certain claims to justify it. Name three "good" reasons for slavery in those people's minds, and three reasons slavery was actually bad"....

As it stands, all we have are the quotes around the word "good". And while I *hope* that was the lesson...we don't know.

I would like to figure out if this was a published curriculum-based assignment, because that would give some context if it was.

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Response to moriah (Reply #32)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:59 AM

34. Smells of standardized testing

I don't live in Wisconsin, but down here, this would smack of standardized testing. They have very structure lesson plans to prepare them for the standardized tests. So every class, every topic, every lesson is suppose to have similarly structured questions and assignments.

I can just see the teachers instructions saying, "on each topic, have the student name three things that are positive, and three things that are negative, and have them prepare these positions and be able to verbally explain them".

So on one day it's westward expansion, on another it's the industrial revolution, and on this day it's slavery. Brainless guidance from brainless administrators to raise brainless children to do brainless work in minimum wage jobs.

But I'm just guessing.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:36 PM

53. standardized testing is a way to limit academic freedom

 

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:28 PM

49. it would have been better

to ask "what reasons did slave owners use to support slavery"

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:49 AM

31. These are 4th graders, 9 or 10 year olds.

They are still learning their times tables.

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Response to AJT (Reply #31)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:31 PM

51. They still teach time tables?

My kids are in high school and they covered that for a couple of months, if that. It wasn't something they focused on.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:06 PM

35. 4th grade is too young

I could see middle school students and higher studying the Southern arguments for chattel slavery that they gave in the run up to the Civil War.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:59 PM

40. Thank you for your pedagogic perspective

Perhaps you could lay out a curriculum for fourth graders to think about some really good reasons for torturing one's enemies. You know, so that nine-year-olds understand the arguments put forward by despots and war criminals around the world. Maybe you could include footage of ISIS burning people alive in steel cages? That'll sure put paid to those dumb old "standardized test scores, rote memory and drivvel [sic]."

Perhaps it's best for all involved that you're a former teacher.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #40)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:04 PM

41. and maybe it would be best for all involved if you didn't personally attack those you disagree with

 

But, as a former teacher, I have an assignment for you. What logical fallacies did you use in your post?

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #41)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:08 PM

42. What was the personal attack?

Please be specific and use actual examples from my post. You have three minutes. Pencils up. Go!

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #42)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:09 PM

43. saying it was best I am not a teacher now

 

do you really not understand how rude and hurtful your comment was? really?

And....I answered yours....how about telling us what logical fallacies you used?

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #43)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:17 PM

46. You're engaging in flamebait arguments in this thread.

Your sudden outbreak of sensitivity rings a little hollow, at this point.

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Response to Paladin (Reply #46)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:23 PM

47. I was trying to sincerely advocate for critical thinking in schools

 

Sorry if that offended you

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #43)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:42 PM

56. Oops, I forgot to say "Spelling and punctuation counts"; my bad

You were the one who invited us to burn you at the stake. Don't issue invitations for parties you don't want to host. Sorry if you're all offended and hurt.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #56)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:46 PM

59. I was being facetious....

 

Apparently you took my words literally instead of having any empathy for what I was saying. That is understandable. If you are opposed to critical thinking, it would not be surprising if personal attacks entered the picture. It is disappointing however

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:32 PM

52. Why not have an exercise titled "Give 3 reasons why breast cancer is a good thing"

Same thing

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:45 PM

57. I think the question should have been phrased differently

I hope the teacher meant " what were the arguments FOR slavery", which is a legitimate assignment, as this position obviously was the heart of the civil war.

As she phrased it, it made it appear as if pro slavery actually can be argued today, which is why there is outraged.

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Response to Drahthaardogs (Reply #57)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:50 PM

62. I agree that would be a better way to phrase it

 

At the same time....we have to keep in mind that teachers have a difficult job. They often work long hours, and they often do not get the support they need. The teacher was probably trying to encourage thought, and kudos for that. Mistakes do happen including in wording.....

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:41 AM

5. One good reason

The Bible says it's OK.

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:56 AM

11. While that was used to support slaveholding

It is not a good reason for slavery.

The former arguably teaches critical thinking. The latter endorses slavery.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:59 AM

13. I was being flippant. nt

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Response to Cartoonist (Reply #5)


Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:21 AM

19. Wisconsin? Not Mississippi?

What the hell, Wisconsin?

Why don't you just stick to cheesemaking, and leave primary education to the states with brains?...

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:28 AM

23. Name three good reasons for the Holocaust; lets spark debate...

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #23)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 12:50 PM

38. Exactly

It was a horrible assignment. I can't begin to imagine what the teacher was thinking.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:40 AM

27. Why does this have to be news?

I mean, perhaps the teacher is a bigot and needed to be called out nationally and humiliated.

Or, perhaps she should have used the word 'rationalize' and didn't - for whatever reason - when she gave the assignment.

The truth is that we don't know what was said in that classroom and what instructions the teacher gave. Perhaps for weeks she had talked about the evils of slavery and just messed up that word on the assignment. If so, then a pointed convo with the teacher and perhaps the principal would be enough.

We don't know really what happened in that classroom - and it does no good to pretend that we do.

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Response to janterry (Reply #27)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:46 AM

30. +1

Well said.

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Response to janterry (Reply #27)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:36 PM

84. This fits into the current outrage bait model of internet news.

More clicks = More ad revenue

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:51 AM

33. As a black educator

The assignment doesn't really offend me. Seems to be trying to instill critical thinking skills in students.

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Response to IluvPitties (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:12 PM

44. The assignment is a black educator?

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Response to IluvPitties (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:58 PM

70. It entirely depends on the lesson the "homework" was based on.

I'll be honest -- 4th graders generally aren't very high on the Piaget/Kohlberg scales of moral development, and it's at that time they're just beginning to hit stage 3, if that, in Kohlberg's scale, that of moral direction coming from the views of others.

As such, any lesson about slavery at that age that doesn't make it clear slavery had no redeeming qualities, only rationalizations made by people who benefited from it, is beyond them. In junior high, in high school, you might have a debate team deliberately try to argue the pro-slavery argument, just as you might have them do that for numerous "bad positions", to learn more in-depth ways to counter such arguments.

But in 4th grade, such an lesson, hopefully, was more along the lines of (in the classroom), "Some people who benefited from slavery justified what they were doing. They weren't good rationalizations, each had flaws." An assignment to then list the reasons used to justify slavery and a counter-list of why slavery was actually bad would then be an appropriate homework assignment.

Or, even, "And some people were more honest in why they wanted slaves, instead of trying to justify their behavior with 'good' reasons." Then an assignment listing the flawed rationalizations and why they were flawed, and the honest reasons and why they violated morality, would also be good.

But neither is teaching critical thinking beyond "These people may have had reasons for doing what they did, but those reasons were wrong -- just because you have a reason doesn't mean the reason is factual or moral".

I admit I think kids should learn the reasons slavery-supporters justified it. Knowing the reasons people did bad things helps you learn not to do bad things, or fall for crappy reasons to do bad things. Just as we should teach kids why people justified westward expansion ("Manifest Destiny". But we *shouldn't* argue, or have children potentially not even at the Interpersonal Conformity stage of moral development try to argue, that those reasons had any validity -- the prejudice, religious intolerance, and selfish self-interest that motivated those reasons should be stated all as bad things too.

Because they are. And yes, education is partially indoctrination. Especially at that age.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:24 PM

48. Depends on what is meant by "good."

The way I see this assignment playing out would be to make the students realize that the only real "advantage" of slavery was economic: work for no wages, i.e. the capitalist's dream. There may have been a few psychological motivators as well, like the desire to play God by having the power of life and death over other human beings. Then there's the aspect of cultural imperialism: the "White Man's Burden," etc. But the exercise is certain to uncover the fact that, at the root, slavery is the ultimate extreme of abuse of other human beings for financial gain.

Certainly the slaveholders had their rationalizations for the institution. And just as certainly, those rationalizations were hollow and self-serving. I see this exercise as an attempt to demonstrate that through discussion, rather than downloading it didactically.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:30 PM

50. I'm just wondering

what could possibly be considered a "good reason" to OWN another human being????

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:40 PM

54. I like the assignment, but don't think it's age appropriate.

Chris Hughes wrote a brilliant article for The Nation in which he explained exactly the amount of wealth that the South was "asked" to divest itself of (slaves). He was looking at it from an amoral perspective just to see how the Southerners saw the North's demands.

It was great argument and Hughes applied it to what we are asking the oil companies to divest themselves of, much in oil fields already claimed and "paid for." (Three trillion, I think he wrote.)

Thinking in this fashion, we might understand what we are asking the petroleum industry relinquish and begin to find way to effect their transition (by, for instance, giving them certain rights to green technology).

If we ignore what we are asking of them, change can only be more difficult.

Critical thinking that gets us out of "the box" can only be beneficial.

I'm an old college prof, so I'm not sure the assignment is good before a certain age.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:42 PM

55. Is this statement from the article diverse?

 

"“It’s highly offensive and insensitive. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe they sent something like that home,” said Brown-Berry, apparently able to contain the God-given slapping-the-shit-out-of-fourth-grade-teachers instinct gifted to most black mothers. "

Is it appropriate to assume black mothers have an instinct to physically assault fourth grade teachers?

I wasn't aware of such an instinct. Sounds to me to be profiling.

But what do I know?

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #55)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:50 PM

61. Aw.

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Response to ollie10 (Reply #55)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:56 PM

68. I just read the whole thread to see if this bothered anybody else.

Glad to see it did.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:45 PM

58. So many better ways an assignment like this could have been done...

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:51 PM

63. "If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong."

That is what the children need to hear.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #63)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:53 PM

66. You're right of course.

But the only way that would spawn critical thinking is by setting that statement against an amoral perspective. (Which may well be the point.)

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 01:57 PM

69. I lulz'd. after 15+ on DU, I just knew someone would defend this load of poo.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:32 PM

80. I have to wonder if this isnt just a poorly worded question?

A better question to ask may have been, “what positive contributions did slavery have the south’s economy?” I agree that the question is poor, but I’m skeptical that a teacher would be so bold as to have students list good aspects about slavery - especially in the context of modern times.

On the other hand, it is useful to understand why slavery was excused when it existed. It gives a historical perspective on how it was justified, and how to prevent a similar mindset from ever happening again.

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Response to Oneironaut (Reply #80)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 02:55 PM

87. Maybe a better question would be "what positive contributions did the expulsion and extermination of

jews have to Germany's economy?" Again, this is a question for 4th graders to answer.

It might be useful to understand why the holocaust existed and give a historical perspective on how it was justified.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Original post)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 03:06 PM

89. Pretty complex question for fourth graders...

...but context matters and it’s interesting to me that the word “good” is in quotes in the actual assignment. That indicates to me that the teacher may not be looking for good reasons (because there really aren’t any) but justifications used by people of the time. I wonder what the rest of the teaching around this assignment looked like?

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Response to TCJ70 (Reply #89)

Fri Jan 12, 2018, 12:28 PM

93. I agree

There's more we don't know than we do.
I'm also a little suspicious that the question was a bit of a "boiler plate" where the teacher regularly presents issues in the "good/bad" argument context. In this case it really comes off as a bad question.

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