Educating our kids in a post fact world

We are living in strange, strange post fact world. The post fact world is a term that seems to be popping up in the media all the time lately. It is a fancy way to say the world has lost the plot! We have got to a weird place where opinions are taking over from facts. Emotions are outweighing evidence. We are seeing public and political debate that heavily relies on emotion. Mark Twain said

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Our public figures and news media seem to have taken this to heart.


The US election campaign
The poster boy of the post fact world is Donald Trump. I have not heard one bit of evidence based analysis come out of that man’s mouth. Admittedly for health and safety reasons I am really trying to limit my expose to Donald Trump. I’m hoping that we will wake up following the US election and collectively breath a big sigh of relief that he has not won the election. It really worries me that this might not be the case.

Even though I hate Trump you have to grudgingly give him credit. He is winning over large numbers of people by piling on pure emotion (mainly hate and fear with a bit of make America great again optimism thrown in for good measure). He strikes me as a man who is putting on a show to cover up the fact that he has not done his homework.

Emotive campaigning
Brexit is the UK’s equivalent. Both the leave and remain campaign were incredibly emotive – heavily playing on our fears for the future. Michael Gove famously said

“I think people in this country have had enough of listening to experts.”

The whole thing had me shouting at my TV on a daily basis. I still feel sick that the level of debate on both sides was so appalling bad.

A lie on a bus
If you think back to the EU referendum campaigning one figure that stands out for many people “We send the EU £350 million a week let’s fund our NHS instead” This claim, printed on the leave campaigns bus was widely discredited as it failed to take into account the rebate received from the EU. Even Nigel Farage the day after the referendum vote said it was a mistake. However I bet you, like me still clearly remember this statement.

So asides from waffling on about politics what does this mean for me as a parent? It makes me determined that my kids don’t grow up to believe some bulls**t claim written on the side of a bus!

What is a fronted adverbial anyway?
But here’s what makes me uneasy. The national curriculum’s seems to increasingly emphasise rote learning of grammar terms, regurgitating spellings and reciting times tables. I went to a presentation at my daughters school and was really disheartened to be given a handout of grammar terminology she would be expected to know by age 7. I’m not sure that I knew all of these terms and I write documents for a living (admittedly I use the spelling and grammar check on my computer!). I’m absolutely not having a dig at my child’s school – they are following the requirements of the national curriculum. I just don’t want our education standards to be about cramming my kids’ heads with facts and requiring them to reel off learned information. This isn’t going to develop the curious fact checkers that the world needs.

Ask the awkward questions
I really want to inspire my kids to be curious thinkers. I want them to grow up with questioning and critical minds. I’m not massively clear on how to do this. I hope I show them by example that it is okay to keep asking questions and questioning information. My 3 year old twins ask me millions of questions everyday (some of them are totally random). I never want them to grow out of it! I want my kids to have the confidence and ability to keep on asking questions and wondering why. I want to hear my kids asking “Why?” “What if?”

Albert Einstein said

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

I really hope that want this miracle to be true for my kids.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to shout at the TV!

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