[asa] pursuing objectivity in the classroom (Global W.)

From: Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Wed May 16 2007 - 20:42:40 EDT

I challenged a couple students yesterday to "see what they could find"
on the net regarding glacier loss and its connection to global
warming. It was an open ended challenge (and a dangerous one -- I gave
no direction or "guidance" whatsoever.) So they were free to migrate to
the sites that would most line up with their own opinions (or those of
mom and dad at home). In fact, I am blissfully naive of most high
profile political organizations on this and can peruse web sites myself
which would probably curl the hair of most policy savvy citizens who
have a major ax to grind here. But I let each site's contents speak for
itself. And I'm hoping that I can model a kind of open-ended
objectivity on this to my students. Very few today are actually
interested in truth, but instead have departed from any truth-questing
in favor of persuasion and marketing. And this may be appropriate --
what else are you supposed to do after all when you are already
convinced of the truth of something? But meanwhile, those of us who
haven't issued a personal verdict yet, find ourselves surrounded by
nothing but committed "defense lawyers" and "prosecuting attorneys".
The actual Jury seems to be almost non-existent as everyone has become a
lawyer/marketer who can be counted on to reveal only what is favorable
to his cause. So the jury has to do its homework listening to all
sides. Granted. But meanwhile, I am wondering how I can nudge my
class to at least set their sites on such objectivity as is humanly
possible. I know I can insist that they seek out sites that are
contrary to their present convictions. But that can still just be a
case-building exercise (you scout out enemy territory searching for
their weak points).

Any tips any of you may have on this would be appreciated. I realize
most here are probably grinding axes of their own and will tell me
"there is no real scientific debate on this" (global warming) --- which
whether or not it is true, is decidedly unhelpful in any educational
sense. Everybody is happy to declare "case closed" exuding personal
candor and confidence such as only a professional marketer could
muster. And we are left still deciding who to trust.

--Merv

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Received on Wed May 16 20:37:27 2007

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