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Practical application the best way
to learn civic involvement, not tests

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

And that involvement should include journalism

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An April 21 Education Week article  notes that a dozen state legislators want to require graduating students to take — and pass — a test similar to one given those who want to become U. S. citizens.

While the legislation might have some merit, it is not a solution for the best way prepare students to be contributors in a democracy.

That solution requires hands-on application of principles taught, practiced and learned in civics, history, and, we would argue, journalism classes.

“We need young citizens who are committed to helping make their communities better and who can assess policy proposals, not merely youths who know how many voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives there are,” Education Week author Joseph Kahne said in his article. ” Google provides the answer to any question on the naturalization test in seconds.”

We agree.

And, we would add, legislators need to look at successful journalism programs, free of review and restraint, where students make all final decisions of content. These represent real civic engagement and learning.

Such programs are models for civic engagement and citizenship.

Journalism, news literacy and civic literacy programs would do a far better job of preparing students for the rigors of an effective democracy than a multiple choice exam or almost any non-application test.

“Democracy,” Kahne says, “thrives when citizens think critically and deeply about civic and political issues, when they consider the needs and priorities of others, and when they engage in informed action—not when they memorize a few facts.”

Again, we agree. More testing of facts and figure about the government might not hurt, but it won’t really help, either.

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Two articles relevant to importance of journalism

Posted by on Jan 19, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Two recent articles can add some substance to the importance of journalism.

One, a guest blog in Education Week by Meira Levinson, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a call for schools doing more to promote civil dialogue through teaching more meaningful civics.

Journalism in its varied scholastic forms can – and does – just that.

“There needs to be space in the curriculum for students to be taught explicitly how to listen and respond to ideas with which they disagree,” writes Levinson, “look for common ground in apparently opposing positions, distinguish fact from opinion, evaluate a variety of sources of evidence, present their own opinions in ways that are respectful and promote mutual dialogue, and take effective and appropriate civic action.”

Levinson’s article could be the basis for arguments to continue or enhance journalism education in high schools.

The second article, a brief article from The Poynter Institute, presents an excellent source for guidelines to develop a newsroom checklist for social media before posting information.

Tho Poynter article links to Zombie Journalism, ideas from Mandy Jenkins, blogger and social media producer for TBD, a Washington, DC, local news start-up. At Zombie Journalism, Jenkins offers valuable ideas for checking a reporter’s social media accuracy and accountability.

Some points students should consider when tweeting:

  • Are any Twitter handles included? Do they go to the right accounts?
  • Does this tweet have/need attribution for reported facts?
  • Does this tweet need a hat tip for another Twitter account/news outlet who first alerted you to the info?

Two stories, both focusing on future and importance of journalism, and well worth your sharing with students.

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