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Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

"Mark my words," remarked Marky Mark. "That girl in marketing is an easy mark."

Re: No. 9 in my last post.

There is a "CSI effect," but it has to do with jurors and not crimes.

While it's impossible to quantify, I wonder sometimes what the decline in education quality is doing to our nation's juries. I suppose to think about this requires the assumption that our national education used to be good in the first place, but just bear with me for a second. As we trend more towards teaching trades, away from logic, critical analysis, etc. etc., are we sacrificing the legitimacy of a trial by jury?

Or do I need to think about quality of education at all? Perhaps what's really on my mind is more of a worry about attention spans, about spin doctors, and believing everything you see on TV. This is a different kind of education, one which is just as important as the one you get in school (and related, of course). Call it street smarts, call it what you will, but the education system is only partially responsible for it. Just as we should learn about revisionist history in school, we should also learn not to trust everything we hear on CNN (or worse, Fox News).

It's for this reason that I think Intelligent Design is a horrible idea. Even if you could show me that evolution is not a fairly complete theory, and that we did need to teach an alternate form of creation, I wouldn't teach Intelligent Design. Because it teaches kids to assume. It teaches kids to trust that something which cannot be empirically proven is true. If you can't teach the kids to question, to form hypotheses from empirical observations, then you're not teaching science. You're teaching faith.

This is something that is even more important these days, with the internet proliferating millions of opinions with millions of agendas. In the threads on Fark.com, which I often read, it's amazing how often someone posts a link to a site which helps them prove the point, and the link turns out to be some kind of politicized half-truth or some wildly unrepresentative statistics. At least on Fark, there are intelligent people who question and debunk these sites, but nevertheless, the point still stands.

It's so easy to find whatever you want online. Google something and it's there. Look something up on Wikipedia and it'll be there. But we can't always trust these faceless sources, and we need to teach our children this. Teach them young, and they'll understand when they grow up that it's not just the internet, that it's TV, the newspapers, their Republican co-workers who think "conservative" means being pro-Life, their Democrat co-workers who think "liberal" means turning the other cheek.

Why isn't there a class in 6th grade called "Net Ed?" It would be like Sex Ed but adapted to teach internet etiquette and warn about the dangers of articles without sources and chat rooms. It wouldn't be to make the kid paranoid, but rather, to teach how to question, how to check sources, and so on and so forth. If you don't think it's a potential problem, I'm willing to bet that every year in every school district around the country, there's a 7th grader who comes in their Social Studies report with some insane statistics they found online, possibly fabricated by someone else with an agenda. What's worse, your 10th grader engaging in premarital sex or your 10th grader thinking that Ronald Reagan was the best President the United States ever had? What's worse, your 10th grader not believing God, or your 10th grader believing a random internet article that says they shouldn't wear seat belts? I'm only kind of kidding.

Taking the line of thought about to trials and juries, I don't think jury pools have been diluted to the point where you basically have a bunch of poorly educated housewives, car repairmen and salesmen who watch Fox News, American Idol and Law and Order all day, but I wonder if it's worse than it was 50 years ago. At least then, we didn't have these shows that would make everyone feel like an Assistant District Attorney or a Forensic Scientist. I mean, I don't think Gunsmoke affected how people operated when serving jury duty. Of course, then, people were worried about Communism, spies, and were just as racist as we are today, so maybe my point's not that valid after all.

I still think we need some kind of internet education in our schools though.

2 Comments:

Blogger panda said...

Internet pretty new. Give it time!

4:24 PM  
Blogger Satchmo said...

Internet is not pretty new!

Compared to sex, yes, Internet is pretty new. But it's been around for awhile. Kids have been trolling chat rooms for awhile. People have been using AOL for awhile. Spurious articles that have no sources have been around for awhile. No excuses

4:26 PM  

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