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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Arguing from ignorance

Argumentation — make a claim and support it with evidence and reasoning — is at the core of Common Core English. Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui used to think teaching students to argue was empowering. But it’s backfired, she argues in Education Week. She sees “too many students . . . learning that the first step to crafting an argument is finding evidence to support a pre-formed opinion.” The internet makes it easy.

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By teaching students “to focus on finding evidence to support claims,” Gardoqui realized she was encouraging “the tendency to select facts that support a certain perception of reality, rather than discerning what reality is by analyzing observations and facts.”

She argues for teaching students to practice “the components of problem-solving: gathering and analyzing information, making observations, defining problems, collaborating with others, testing possible solutions, and learning from failure.”

This made me think of my dislike for the phrase “my truth,” which usually seems to mean “my opinion.” (Adding  that “my truth” is based on “lived experience” doesn’t help. Zombies aside, all experience is lived.)

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