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Teaching Kids to Write Opinion Papers


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LDS youth are going to frequently disagree with their teachers' views, so it's not a bad thing that this teacher has welcomed her into this world. The best approach to persuasive writing is to anticipate objections and to dismantle them (or logically and plausibly attempt to). So, the teacher tipping her hand let her know which objections she has to her position in advance makes it that much easier to address them. 

If teachers penalize for not having the right views, when the arguments and methods are solid, then it is an issue. What I've found is that most teachers are pretty reasonable, and they are simply overjoyed when kids can competently argue for their position, even when they disagree with them. So, I would see how this plays out, evaluation-wise. 

And, to be honest, it probably won't. The online school we are now undertaking is mostly a) to justify continuing to pay teachers, and b) to quiet high-maintenance parents who will complain if kids aren't given things to do. As long as teachers are making the effort (as this one is), I don't think you can expect in-depth feedback and analysis. We're just trying to get through this school year! ;) 

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When I was getting my minor in philosophy and we had to make arguments in support of something my professors would always wait to give us their opinions until we had expressed ours, because they did not want us to simply parrot back what we thought they wanted to hear, they wanted us to form our own conclusions.  I always really appreciated that.  

I think if it were me I wouldn't bother emailing the teacher (because that will probably just make her defensive and more entrenched) but I would explain to my daughter my thoughts on how the teacher wasn't teaching opinion writing in a way that I agreed with for such and such reasons.

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I have written multiple op-eds before. Your kid's teacher is wrong in one major aspect, and right in another.

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/robert-falconer-the-open-society-canadas-best-response-to-immigration/

https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/the-u-s-might-be-about-to-send-us-these-two-immigration-and-refugee-problems

https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/idees/576929/faire-tomber-les-barrieres

The term op-ed, was meant to signify an informed opinion "opposite the editorial page," which is the origin of the name. It's supposed to signify an informed opinion, that may even contrast with the editorial bent of the page. It's usually left to subject matter experts or workers in a particular area. The paper is not supposed to police the piece too much, just edit it for grammar or spelling issues.

So, with that context in mind, you teacher should not be policing the opinion of your kid. That's the point of an op-ed. They're meant to express opinions to the public without much policing. French op-eds are particularly fun to write, because they're explicitly about this, and usually are published under headlines such as "debats" or "idees. That said, most editorial boards will require references for any submitted op-eds. This is usually pretty informal - hyperlinks, links, and just book/journal/document titles and dates are fine. More than anything, the editorial board is just making sure they're not publishing unsupported twaddle. So the teacher is well within the norm for asking evidence.

Perhaps I have misunderstood the assignment, but if I were in your shoes, I'd have your kid put together a short age-appropriate opinion piece, and find 2-3 links to credible sources. If her teacher pushes back on this, feel welcome to share this post, and I'll DM you my email and contact info.

 

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On 4/23/2020 at 9:04 AM, rongo said:

LDS youth are going to frequently disagree with their teachers' views, so it's not a bad thing that this teacher has welcomed her into this world. The best approach to persuasive writing is to anticipate objections and to dismantle them (or logically and plausibly attempt to). So, the teacher tipping her hand let her know which objections she has to her position in advance makes it that much easier to address them. 

If teachers penalize for not having the right views, when the arguments and methods are solid, then it is an issue. What I've found is that most teachers are pretty reasonable, and they are simply overjoyed when kids can competently argue for their position, even when they disagree with them. So, I would see how this plays out, evaluation-wise. 

And, to be honest, it probably won't. The online school we are now undertaking is mostly a) to justify continuing to pay teachers, and b) to quiet high-maintenance parents who will complain if kids aren't given things to do. As long as teachers are making the effort (as this one is), I don't think you can expect in-depth feedback and analysis. We're just trying to get through this school year! ;) 

I would happily pay teachers to not teach the rest of the school year! Hahahaha 

The topic is whether schools should serve chocolate milk or not. That's not really controversial, but when her teacher asked her how she felt and she said she thought it should serve chocolate milk, she said she disagreed and added, "First of all, we're not baby cows..." So she's against drinking milk period. 

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30 minutes ago, MorningStar said:

First of all, we're not baby cows..." So she's against drinking milk period. 

Yeah, I am not a lion but I still eat meat. I am not a bird, but I still eat millet (and cherries if the birds don’t get them first).  Not a cow but eat alfalfa sprouts. We’re not any other animal, adult or child, but that doesn’t mean we don’t eat what they eat in many cases. That is, imo, a really stupid argument. 

Edited by Calm
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8 minutes ago, Calm said:

Yeah, I am not a lion but I still eat meat. I am not a bird, but I still eat millet (and cherries if the birds don’t get them first).  Not a cow but eat alfalfa sprouts. We’re not any other animal, adult or child, but that doesn’t mean we don’t eat what they eat in many cases. That is, imo, a really stupid argument. 

As a wise woman pointed out on Facebook:  We aren’t almonds but we still drink almond milk. ;) 

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1 hour ago, MorningStar said:

I would happily pay teachers to not teach the rest of the school year! Hahahaha 

My school district made the mistake of telling parents and students (official communications) that the work we provide doesn't count and doesn't matter. Then, there was a lot of hand-wringing over students not doing any of it. It makes my life easy, but c'mon . . . 

Make no mistake: the real reason schools are providing "distance learning" while being shut down is to justify paying the teachers the rest of their contracts. The secondary reason is to provide "stuff" so the high-maintenance parents can't complain that the schools aren't providing "stuff."

It's a bunch of busy work that isn't really doing anything or going anywhere.

The topic is whether schools should serve chocolate milk or not. That's not really controversial, but when her teacher asked her how she felt and she said she thought it should serve chocolate milk, she said she disagreed and added, "First of all, we're not baby cows..." So she's against drinking milk period.

Yeah, that's dumb. 

Along your teacher's lines, Arizona has a giant dairy company called Shamrock Farms which is near our district. They've done a major lobbying push and had bills introduced that would ban use of the word "milk" in products that don't come from the mammary glands of cows. The point, of course, is to make it so soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. would have to relabel themselves as "beverages" or "drinks" in an effort to psychologically expand their markets. Or something. People who drink non-milk "milk" products aren't likely to be swayed by a branding campaign, in my opinion. 

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My kids are good kids, and are doing everything their teachers are sending them, even though it takes hours and is mostly busy work. It's frustrating for me as a parent, but I'm not encouraging them to just let it go. I'm right with you, though, Morning Star, about paying teachers **not** to send work. 

What I'm doing is giving credit if they do it, and leaving it blank in the books if they don't, so they can raise their grade, but it can't go down. Technically, that's against district policy (the books have to have something, so zeroes if they don't do it), but it's a mess with kids not doing it. What did the district think would happen when they said it was optional?

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

As a wise woman pointed out on Facebook:  We aren’t almonds but we still drink almond milk. ;) 

Dang, I was going to go there but figured it was a bit too far. :rofl:

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3 hours ago, rongo said:

My kids are good kids, and are doing everything their teachers are sending them, even though it takes hours and is mostly busy work. It's frustrating for me as a parent, but I'm not encouraging them to just let it go. I'm right with you, though, Morning Star, about paying teachers **not** to send work. 

What I'm doing is giving credit if they do it, and leaving it blank in the books if they don't, so they can raise their grade, but it can't go down. Technically, that's against district policy (the books have to have something, so zeroes if they don't do it), but it's a mess with kids not doing it. What did the district think would happen when they said it was optional?

Our district is passing every secondary kid this year, as they’ve adopted a “no harm” policy. Meaning distance learning cannot harm any student. 

Grades can still be given if requested and if it’s above a D. Otherwise the student will receive a “pass” instead of a letter grade.

I don’t understand how that is going to work for grade point averages and getting into college. I guess we’ll see. 

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They will just auction off the spots rather than worry about other qualifications to cover decreases in monies received through funding and tuition.  They can completely dispense with grade point averages and extracurricular activities etc, thus guaranteeing fair treatment of all students in this area. 😛

 

Edited by Calm
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I’m a big proponent of the Socratic method.  Perhaps this was the teacher’s version of a 5th grade level Socratic dialogue.  If so, I wouldn’t score her very high on execution.

My kids were encouraged to share their opinions at the dinner table and quickly learned those opinions would be challenged.  Over time the process enables one to better articulate and refine their opinions.  Refinement is almost always a better result than rigid defense.

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On 4/24/2020 at 5:55 PM, rongo said:

My school district made the mistake of telling parents and students (official communications) that the work we provide doesn't count and doesn't matter. Then, there was a lot of hand-wringing over students not doing any of it. It makes my life easy, but c'mon . . . 

Make no mistake: the real reason schools are providing "distance learning" while being shut down is to justify paying the teachers the rest of their contracts. The secondary reason is to provide "stuff" so the high-maintenance parents can't complain that the schools aren't providing "stuff."

It's a bunch of busy work that isn't really doing anything or going anywhere.

 

 

Yeah, that's dumb. 

Along your teacher's lines, Arizona has a giant dairy company called Shamrock Farms which is near our district. They've done a major lobbying push and had bills introduced that would ban use of the word "milk" in products that don't come from the mammary glands of cows. The point, of course, is to make it so soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. would have to relabel themselves as "beverages" or "drinks" in an effort to psychologically expand their markets. Or something. People who drink non-milk "milk" products aren't likely to be swayed by a branding campaign, in my opinion. 

The whole lobbying on bills etc for this kind of thing irritates me, but I must admit that all the vegetarian/vegan copycats of meat recipes bothers me as well. It is not chicken in "Chicken Parmesan" if it is vegan.  Almond and soy "milk" don't bother me though.  I wonder why.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In high school, I had a teacher that I thought, at first, was one of the most bigoted, misogynistic, racist [and so on; pick your pejorative adjective] people I'd ever met in my life ... until it dawned on me that he was simply delivering the unenlightened (to say the least! :rolleyes:) opinions of people who held those viewpoints, not giving us his own.  Perhaps your child's teacher's "disagreement" with her is meant to spark thought and to spur her to come up with arguments supporting her position.

P.S.: I don't drink it very often, but I love chocolate milk! :P;) 

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