john kerry yacht
What Common Core “point of view” would Scholastic write about Secretary of State John Kerry and his yacht?

Common Core aligned curriculum is being implemented in more states and parents are concerned with their children’s worksheets.  A Missouri mom with a 5th grader sent me information on common core aligned curriculum from Scholastic’s  Teaching Resources, Point of View & Fact and Opinion and was quite upset.

Here’s an excerpt from the Scholastic link (click on the view sample page) from Point of View & Fact and Opinion:

These pages provide exercises in determining point  of view. Students should read the paragraph, then describe the writer’s opinion about the topic. Item 2 requires students to identify a key word in the paragraph. Item 3 calls for students to recognize the writer’s point of view, and item 4 asks students to identify another possible viewpoint.

 

Scholastic makes this exercise sound reasonable.  However, the mom believes (and I agree) that the curriculum used to elicit this “critical thinking skill” is disguised as indoctrination or progressive ideology.  How do you read the “point of view” questions posed (below) to this student?  The Scholastic information says the exercise “asks students to identify another possible viewpoint”.  Is that possible in the way these paragraphs are written and how the question is asked?

 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

point of view 1
Is the last question a point of view or a question to introduce class envy?
point of view 2
Is “no doubt” used appropriately in this paragraph?

 

Whose  point of view is being represented in these exercises?  Are these last questions indicative of a point of view or do they introduce indoctrination?  Does this curriculum mirror the values and beliefs of the local community?  Are these questions appropriate or are they representing  a progressive viewpoint that any facts presented in the preceding paragraphs are meaningless?  Did you make the jump from “learning about dogs to can’t make ends meet” and “mapmaking causing feelings of superiority”?

What do feelings of those who “can’t make ends meet” have to do with the treatment of dogs in France?  Is the question posed to the student implying that people who can’t afford to treat a dog in a certain manner are left out of the experience of owning a dog?   So here’s a question for a future assignment: should or shouldn’t students read about Secretary of State John Kerry’s life, which would include his love of yachting?  I can envision such a reading now with a “point of view” question: What point of view might someone have (who can’t make ends meet) of millionaires like John Kerry”?   Wouldn’t most 5th graders answer that such display and use of wealth is “not fair”, “makes poor people feel bad” and perhaps “he should share his wealth”?   Wouldn’t that be a developmentally appropriate answer for a student at that age?  Does this introduce class envy?

Regarding the second “point of view” question, here’s an explanation on the phrase “no doubt”:

a transitional or interpretative phrase strengthening the rest of a previous sentence. Sue: Mary is giving this party for herself? Rachel: Yes. She’ll expect us to bring gifts, no doubt. Mary: All this talk about war has my cousin very worried. Sue: No doubt. At his age, I don’t wonder.

According to the above explanation, do you think the transitional or interpretative phrase in this Scholastic worksheet strengthens the rest of the previous sentence?  How did the writer segue from countries being drawn out of proportion into the overblown proportions of places on the map have made people there think of themselves as more important, too?

If you are resident of the USA do you feel more important because in a 1500’s incorrectly drawn map, the Northern Hemisphere is larger than the Southern Hemisphere?  Do you think Greenlanders feel more important than Africans because their country is depicted as large as Africa even though it is much smaller?  Here’s a more balanced article on Mercator and the pros and cons about his maps.  It doesn’t mention “feelings” about a 1569 map and gives the reasons for its obvious errors.  Wouldn’t this be a better “point of view” article?  An excerpt:

The reason why Greenland looks as big as North America on a Mercator projection is because the map can never show all of the polar areas. The polar regions look like they aren’t completely there because the the linear scale is the same anywhere that the projection is present. So really, any latitude that is north or south of 70 degrees, you cannot use on the map because it is unstable. And the two poles are pushed away by the projection. So it isn’t just Greenland, even though it is the most noticeable. It is every piece of land that is in the range of the projection. If you look at Alaska, it looks as if it has more or equal land area to Brazil.
But it also has it’s pros. The Mercator projection has helped nautical engineers by making its way up to the standard map for nautical purposes. It’s ability to represent lines as a straight segment were amazing.
Now… given the pros and cons of the Mercator projection, I want you to tell me if you think it was a good idea to even have the idea of the map in the first place! I want you to tell me what you think about the map, even if you want to use my search engine to do it.

 

Just whose “points of view” are being addressed in these Scholastic assignments?  This mom had the right idea.  She marked these “points of view” questions as inappropriate and is writing a note to the teacher about why her daughter will not be answering such questions.  Maybe she should use the John Kerry example of how these “points of view” questions and curriculum are not academic in nature, but rather, introducing class envy and discontent.

 

 

 

 

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