Andrey (azangru) wrote,

Via Twitter

Saw a link to a proposal for certain changes to school curricula, by the US Department of Education, published on the Federal Register site.

Firstly, the site is very impressive. Not all of it; the home page is pretty crummy; but the page for an individual document is great.

The proposal suggests two priorities for the American History and Civics programs. Not sure whether they are the only two priorities for the entire programs, or are proposed in addition to some existing ones; but from the text of the document alone, I would guess they are the only two. The first one is predictable; the only part of it that is less frequently repeated is the "linguistic diversity" (does it mean teaching Spanish? or Ebonics? in American History and Civics classes? the proposal doesn't explain).

The second part is "promoting information literacy skills".

I've never properly understood what is meant by information literacy.

It is certainly true that there are certain research skills that require learning. Citing sources is one. Tracing the chain of references to the primary source is another. Awareness that a text can change when quoted, or even change from edition to edition in a printed medium; or change surreptitiously at any time in the digital space, is the third. But that's not what this "priority" is about.

Recognition that many (most? all?) texts have some ingrained biases, and that these biases are potentially discoverable is another arguably useful skill, which is closer to what the "priority" suggests.

But, judging by the text of the proposal in general, what it's mostly about is teaching kids how to tell fact from opinion, accurate information from inaccurate, and real news from fake news. I'm curious to see their teaching materials for that.

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