I’m very sad today, dudes. Horribly sad. And it’s the fault of, well, I’m not really sure, actually. But it’s horribly appalling is what it is.
Newspapers are no longer a trusted source. At least they’re not, according to the stringent requirements of the fifth graders at Awesome Elementary School.
A little background probably is in order.
The fifth-graders in Ms. R’s class are, like the rest of the fifth graders, responsible for creating a study project. They need to research their topic, put together a nice package of all the relevant information they found, and then come up with an action plan based on that information. The action plan should be something to benefit the community, in some way that relates to the research topic.
Being that these are kids who barely have reached the double digits in age, they’re not the most savvy in the world. Okay, they’re barely able to think their way out of a paper bag, but that’s most fifth graders everywhere. Our dudes and dudettes aren’t unique that way.
Anyway, before we let them loose on the wild and wooly world of the infosphere, we had to give them a little bit of a precis on their own on where they should look for reliable information and where they shouldn’t.
Wikipedia, of course, topped the list of the DO NOT USE section of that lecture. Because, Ms. R said, “Anyone can go in there and write down anything!”
It’s a somewhat jaundiced view of Wikipedia and not really very nuanced in that I think it’s a great resource as long as you don’t take things at face value and start to actually follow up on the research suggested in the article. To me, this makes it a great place to start.
Apparently, that’s not a good thing to say to a bunch of fifth graders. Hence, the NO-WIKIPEDIA stance. That I can understand. I don’t really believe it, but I understand it.
It’s these next two that drove me absolutely bat-guano crazy.
On the trusted list was books. Just books. It seems that, according to the high muckety mucks who create these lists in the upper stratosphere of Awesome Elementary School administration, if you’ve got a printed book, it’s pretty much infallible. Which I, as a writer who has actually published a book but would be aghast if someone used it as a reference book, find a little hard to take.
Anyone can print a book and get it out there. All it takes is money, not truth, not solid, peer-reviewed research. Only money. And yet, because these administrators come from an older generation when print was venerated, they’re steering these kids right the wrong way.
Which leads us to the bit that almost made me scream when it was shown.
Newspapers were on the DO NOT USE list because of — hold on while I try not to scream this last bit — bias. Yes, bias. From an institution that is famous for trying to hard to be fair that it will let politicians knowingly tell lies and never call them on it.
I blame a few certain television news organizations for this one. A deep-set distrust of news organizations has set in so deeply in our culture that even our elementary school teachers and students no longer trust what used to be considered the bastion of impartiality and trustworthiness.
What has this world come to?
I have so much more to rant about on this topic, but I’m going to have to stop here. It’s late (for me) and I’ve still got other work to which I must attend before I hit they hay. Miles to go before I sleep, if you will.
Maybe. It’s possible I could calm down in the interim. Possible.