SL.CCR.3 — that’s the 3rd College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Speaking and Listening strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — says:
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
All right, lots of fun stuff in here, so let’s get started. We’ll be looking at what a college and career ready person should be able to do in terms of the text quoted above.
SL.CCR.3 is the skeptics standard. A lot of teachers and edu-commenters around the country have been hardcore practicing this standard all summer. We rock at this!
When I first started Teaching the Core, I would read blogs around the Internet and, on a lot of the negative ones, I heard about one of the lead architects of the CCSS ELA/Literacy standards, David Coleman. Here’s the gist of what I read:
“Hmm, I don’t trust that David Coleman. He’s not a teacher. He’s got ties with the mafia. Etc.”
(David Coleman, I know you don’t really have mafia ties. Well, actually, I don’t know that. But I’m assuming you don’t. You don’t really look like the mafia type. In a good way.)
Anyways, I’m seriously digressing.
The whole point of bringing this David Coleman issue up is that, when we question a speaker’s point of view or reasoning or use of evidence or use of rhetoric, we are practicing SL.CCR.3.
And although there’s definitely a point where skepticism can become misguided or, in the case of the David Coleman complainers, unproductive, I’d argue there’s way too little skepticism in the USA. It might seem like we’re a skeptical country, but I’d argue we’re not.
Again, digressing. Too much caffeine.
How do we practice intelligent and productive skepticism?
SL.CCR.3 gives us four things to look for in evaluating a speaker in an effective and productive way. Along with them, I’ll provide some questions we can use with our students:
- Point of view:
- Where is the speaker coming from?
- What perspectives does he/she represent?
- What might be motivating his/her speaking?
- Is the speaker making logical points?
- Is the speaker satisfactorily explaining presuppositions?
- What does the speaker not explain? Why might that be?
- Use of evidence:
- Does the speaker use evidence to support claims?
- Is the speaker’s evidence legitimately connected to what he/she is saying?
- Is the speaker correctly citing evidence? (Leonard Pitts has shown in the past how both presidential candidates misuse evidence to support their agendas.)
- Use of rhetoric: (language designed to impress or persuade)
- Is the speaker trying to appeal to something besides my logic?
- Is he/she trying to make me afraid, guilty, angry, etc?
All right, now, before I open up the comments section for everyone else, let me just reaffirm that I don’t think David Coleman has mafia connections and that I think a lot of the Coleman-bashing I’ve read this summer is the definition of wasted energy.
Let’s keep it positive and solution-oriented, educators! Teacher Power!
Now, how have you encouraged skepticism in your classes? Before you even heard of SL.CCR.3, how were you already doing this?