I’ve been resisting the urge to post about this topic because I thought there had been enough blog posts, tweets, news stories, and conversations about the President of the United States’ speech to school children and its surrounding controversy. In my district and many others across the nation – the speech is NOT going to be broadcast live for a number of reasons – from first day of school and lunch time issues to appeasing parents who do not want their children to hear the speech and be “indoctrinated” by Obama’s political agenda.
But a lot of school districts are taping the speech “to be shown at a later date” by teachers who deem it appropriate for their curriculum. This whole idea of reviewing the President’s speech for appropriateness to the curriculum is nagging at me. Who will be the reviewers? Who will ultimately make the decision to show or not to show the tape? What happens when it is deemed appropriate but parents still don’t want their kids to view it? And what criteria will be used to judge “appropriateness” to the curriculum – in what subjects and for what grades? I think there is going to be another whole round of unintended consequences to this taping issue.
However, it occurred to me that – like it or not – the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Standards for the 21st Century Learner may become an important player in this review process. These standards include skills, responsibilities, dispositions in action, and self-assessment strategies that span all grades (K – 12) and all curricular areas. As I re-read them, today, I thought several of these standards could be applied to the President’s speech and be used to judge it’s appropriateness to the curriculum, depending on the grade and class. Here are a few that stood out:
1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
1.2.4 Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information.
2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.
2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.
2.3.1 Connect understanding to the real world.
2.4.1 Determine how to act on information (accept, reject, modify).
3.1.5 Connect learning to community issues.
3.3.2 Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.
3.3.3 Use knowledge and information skills and dispositions to engage in public conversation and debate around issues of common concern.
3.3.6 Use information and knowledge in the service of democratic values.
3.3.7 Respect the principles of intellectual freedom.
4.1.5 Connect ideas to own interests and previous knowledge and experience.
4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.
Aren’t these skills and dispositions that all parents would want their children to be able to demonstrate? It seems to me that the President’s speech and the surrounding controversy is an amazingly authentic opportunity for students to practice these skills and dispositions. What do you think?