Home » Eyes Rolling, Poe's Law » Poe’s law: Students cannot form logical position about television’s impact?

Poe’s law: Students cannot form logical position about television’s impact?

From what I can determine, this is a true story:

A Mindful Hack reader writes,

The state of Maine gave a test to about 15,000 eighth-graders to assess their writing skills, including their ability to form a logical position. When the state refused to release the results, a newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request and learned that 78 percent of the kids failed, which was 50 percent more than failed the test the previous year. Maine’s Department of Education explained the results were “inconclusive”, and they discarded them because students reacted emotionally to the test. “Kids got ticked off at the [question],” explained Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, “so it was not an accurate reflection of their writing skills.” The essay-based test asked the students to support or refute the statement, “Television may have a negative impact on learning.” (Portland Press-Herald) …And their inability to form a logical position and refute that is proof that the test is flawed.”

At Bangor Daily News.com, Kent Ward asks:

Just what there is to get so upset about in the debatable proposition that television may have a negative impact on learning, I haven’t a clue. The more so when test instructions clearly gave students the choice of making a case either for or against the premise and provided the pros and cons for making their argument. Which is to say they weren’t exactly starting from scratch, with only a blank sheet of paper and a debilitating writer’s block for inspiration.

In any event, from Kelley Bouchard of the Portland Press Herald (September 7, 2008) we also learn:

Edwards noted that eighth-graders who took the writing test in 2007 were able to draw from their own experience to sustain arguments for or against the following statement: “Rather than maintaining separate teams for boys’ and girls’ sports, a high school is considering combining teams and having a completely coed sports program.”

Now that strikes me as a very emotional question for many students, yet the students could handle it.

Gendron could be right, that the results this year are a fluke. But here’s another possibility: Thinking about television induced in many students a state of mind not suited to critical thinking because that is in fact how they react to television. So they were not “ticked off” by the question, they were disabled by it. That’s hardly good news, even if it is a fluke.

Let’s see what next year brings.

Note: Poe’s law states that some people or situations just cannot be parodied because you couldn’t make up stuff that is further along the continuum.

Also just up at The Mindful Hack:

“Loving” chimpanzee eats its victims alive, new research shows

Commentator Dinesh D’Souza challenges “Religulous” documentary producer to a debate

Do believers in other religions go to hell, Muslim asks?

Religious freedom: Student threatened with loss of diploma for faith statement

Spirituality: Addiction as a false spiritual quest?

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4 Responses to Poe’s law: Students cannot form logical position about television’s impact?

  1. I think it’s interesting to hear the “results” from this test. It is unclear whether or not the students reacted emotionally, but one thing is certainly clear and that is that excessive television can have negative effects on the intellectual development of students.

    I am not an Obama fan, but I do agree with at least one thing he said in the debate last night regarding education:

    “[There's] one last ingredient that I just want to mention, and that’s parents. We can’t do it just in the schools. Parents are going to have to show more responsibility. They’ve got to turn off the TV set, put away the video games, and, finally, start instilling that thirst for knowledge that our students need.”

  2. Truthseeker

    Obama and Ayers had a $50 million grant from the Anneneberg Foundation to improve public schools in Chicago. Like to take a wild guess on whether or not grades improved, dropout rate fell, or whether more Chicago public school children went on to college? Go ahead. I’m pretty sure your gut instinct will be right. :lol:

    McCain pwned Obama again on the education issue by letting it be known that what works is introducing competitition into the school system through vouchers and Obama was stuck sitting there like a moron because he opposed vouchers.

  3. What they didn’t say is if the same graders were used two years in a row and the same question. On an essay question if you are going to compare two years in a row than you need to have the same question and graders. The question about television is going to be a difficult question for anyone to quickly off the cuff put forth a logical argument, what to speak of an 8th grader.

  4. Just to clarify – I don’t support Obama’s education plans. I simply agree with the fact that there needs to be more personal responsibility.

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