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← New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests

New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests - Comments

emastro's Avatar Comment 1 by emastro

I couldn't agree more. I have been personally offended by the concept of birthdays since I turned 40. I'd also like to lobby the British Medical Association to discourage the use of the word "cholesterol" at least in conversations involving me and my GP.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 08:44:44 UTC | #931838

scashworth's Avatar Comment 2 by scashworth

By all means, let's teach our children that if something bothers us we should plug our ears and demand it be removed rather than having an educated discussion on why said thing bothers us to begin with. As a future NYC school teacher, I find this attitude abhorrent. It's no wonder children have little to no critical thinking skills left.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 09:27:47 UTC | #931843

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 3 by MilitantNonStampCollector

It's so crazy it seems like an Onion article. "Now kids... don't say these words or else... and they will go away with a bit of luck. We can shape your brains however we want". What a disgrace.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 11:22:21 UTC | #931860

mmurray's Avatar Comment 4 by mmurray

The list is

Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Bodily functions
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Celebrities
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Crime
Death and disease
Divorce
Evolution
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Halloween
Homelessness
Homes with swimming pools
Hunting
Junk food
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Nuclear weapons
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Parapsychology
Politics
Pornography
Poverty
Rap Music
Religion
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Rock-and-Roll music
Running away
Sex
Slavery
Terrorism
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
Violence
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

Note that the idea is to remove the words from the tests not from the classroom. I imagine they are trying to avoid a debacle like this.

Michael

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 11:28:15 UTC | #931863

mmurray's Avatar Comment 5 by mmurray

Comment 3 by MilitantNonStampCollector :

It's so crazy it seems like an Onion article. "Now kids... don't say these words or else... and they will go away with a bit of luck. We can shape your brains however we want". What a disgrace.

No-one is suggesting the kids can't use these words. That is not what this is about.

Michael

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 11:33:04 UTC | #931864

RomeStu's Avatar Comment 6 by RomeStu

And if I am "offended" by religion will they remove it to make me less offended?

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 12:20:28 UTC | #931872

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 7 by SaganTheCat

i do hate the term "political correctness gone mad". mostly because I think the last 2 words in the prase are superfluous.

once you start making a list of words that might be emotive or upsetting there's no reason the list cna't grow indefinitely.

personally in my school days I found the words "test", "revision", "grade" and "fail" extremely loaded

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 12:34:31 UTC | #931877

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 8 by Zeuglodon

Comment 4 by mmurray

Referring to slaves so casually as though their existence is to be taken for granted is one thing. Referring to evolution as such is another. It's a scientific fact by now. Admittedly, I'd rather kids were given simple grocery tasks, like "If Bob bought three oranges, each costing one dollar twenty six, how much did he spend?" But seriously, what is so heinous in referring to, for instance, computers in the home? There are things on that list that look like someone just flicked through a dictionary and picked at random.

I also wonder if they underestimate a kid's ability to deal with serious topics. Has anybody seen that episode of Mr Rogers' Neighbourhood, where he talks about divorce? That's how it can be done.

And I am unimpressed by their rationale for not using dinosaur. I came up with an analogy a while back comparing this sort of accommodationism with giving in to spoiled brats. After reading this, I ain't changing it.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 14:04:44 UTC | #931906

Bobwundaye's Avatar Comment 9 by Bobwundaye

Is this sort of mindset not teaching kids to avoid offending someone at all costs and building a tip-toe culture;the same culture that inhibits atheists from speaking out against the claims of religion?

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 16:44:35 UTC | #931935

Bobwundaye's Avatar Comment 10 by Bobwundaye

When tea-partiers claim that their tax dollars are being misspent, I think they have this kind of thing in mind.

I can just imagine the week long summit, fully catered for by the tax-payer; the paid-focus groups; the expert opinions of educationalist professionals who have never spent a day in the classroom; the brainstorming; the initial winnowing of the words, before redefining offensive allowing for a swell in the words used.

This is when government does overreach.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 16:53:53 UTC | #931940

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 11 by Cook@Tahiti

With a streamlined syllabus devoid of all these terms, kids can enter the workforce faster.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 17:14:47 UTC | #931944

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 12 by VrijVlinder

I guess banning loaded guns has not worked, maybe banning loaded words will have some effect other than the words being used on the test answers.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 17:27:37 UTC | #931946

pad4pad's Avatar Comment 13 by pad4pad

tag 1 APRIL fool's day gag *** !!!

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 18:15:52 UTC | #931958

Misfire's Avatar Comment 14 by Misfire

I can understand banning discussions of meat-eating dinosaurs with sharp teeth, but what about the peaceful ones?

Also, ban negative numbers. And the first few positive numbers to be safe.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 18:48:15 UTC | #931969

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 15 by Zeuglodon

Comment 13 by pad4pad tag 1 APRIL fool's day gag *** !!!

It says Updated: Monday, 02 April 2012 at 9:27 AM.

If it is an April Fool's Day gag, it should say so in the thread. Considering that Comment 4 contains this link, which leads to an article that says:

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 4:22 PM Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 6:40 AM

I don't think it is an April Fool's Day gag. Not that it isn't already a barrel of laughs.

The station reports that certain words can elicit unpleasant feelings on the part of students. "Dinosaur," for example, would suggest evolution -- offensive to creationists. even "birthday" doesn't make the cut because Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate them.

If people are offended over scientific facts, that's their pot luck. Nature isn't going to rearrange itself for their convenience. They should be told to learn some anger control and to state their case, such as it is, politely.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 19:01:35 UTC | #931972

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 16 by xmaseveeve

Ha ha. Were anyone to ban the words on Mike's list, we'd all have to shut up. It would be like the yes/no quiz from 'Take Your Pick'. Good satire! Let's get children to write stories which include all of the words, at least once.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 19:07:51 UTC | #931974

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 17 by Carl Sai Baba

So you definitely can't have a question like "If little Billy is in the gymnasium with three fortune-tellers and two AIDS denialists, how many acts of violence will he have to commit before he can smoke a cigarette without having to listen to anything stupid?"

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 21:21:31 UTC | #932002

BKsea's Avatar Comment 18 by BKsea

In this case, the skeptic community is wrong. These are words banned from STANDARDIZED TESTS. You know, the sort of tests where they have simple stories and math problems to test basic reasoning skills and reading comprehension. It is well documented that certain groups can be induced to perform worse on these tests based on irrelevant subject matter and this is a form of discrimination. For this purpose, erring on the side of caution is preferable - it is very easy to come up with questions that avoid these subjects and still meet the intent of the skills to be tested. Certainly these words are not banned from actual instruction that is pertinent to the topics.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 00:38:17 UTC | #932028

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 19 by VrijVlinder

Highest Literacy Rate: Most Educated Countries of the World

I don't see the USA on the list. Maybe because it is not 100% literate, it is 97% . The unaccounted 3% live in New York.

Leave it to the vatican to be number 1. population a bit over 800 maybe?

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 00:47:05 UTC | #932029

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 20 by QuestioningKat

Back when I was studying to be a teacher, I wrote a paper that utilized results and information from standardized tests. Several sources claimed that children performed better on a question when they could personally relate to the subject or the test question was of interest to them. It was believed that they would excel because topics within the test maintained their interest. For instance, a test writer would best write a test for me if it included situations in which the subject was a female designer. Reading about something I could relate to would supposedly have my full interest and I would be more likely to answer the question correctly. If the test posed a question about a wrestler or sports situation, I'd be more likely to get the question incorrect because they'd lose my interest at the onset.

My best guess is that some of the words on this list were selected to prevent children from low income households from feeling inferior. About twenty or so years ago, words like golf (or polo) were avoided because it was considered a sport dominated by upscale white men. Now they are looking at home computers and home swimming pools. Interesting. It is likely that other words were chosen to be omitted because it may emotionally distract a child with personal hardships while taking a test.

(As a side note, writing this paper long ago was one of the most educational experiences I can recall. I remember doing far more research than necessary because I was fascinated how people on both side of the issue sited the same research and twisted it to fit their agenda. I would trace the sources back to the numerical statistics and it was clear that people projected their agenda onto the results.)

Of course there is a view which is much more politically incorrect than the one I mentioned above....

Standardized tests are politically charged and are serious business here in the states. Statistics show that caucasian, suburban, children of parents with a higher SES, tend to test higher on standardized tests. As a result educators and administrators want to ensure that the actual test itself is not being biased. All this attention to not offend the religious is most likely done from the perspective that children will answer a question incorrectly because it is somehow biased against the child. If a question is shown to be "biased" there are consequences to be paid either through hassles from angered parents, lawsuits, or test results that reflect poorly on their district. As a result, districts go overkill on being politically correct.

Edit: I just read comment 18. Yes, you are correct. I had to stop midway writing this as visitors stopped by. If I saw your entry earlier I would have stopped. Yours is much more succinct.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 01:07:13 UTC | #932034

raytoman's Avatar Comment 21 by raytoman

Typically todays kids are more knowledgable and have more accessable information than ever before (TV, internet, advertising, etc).

Why restrict any words?

These will all presumably all have definitions in dictionaries (even slang and "street" language) and when kios ask, they will find out something from the answer and perhaps something about the answerer. Knowledge is good, ignorance bad.

If they have any decent number of synapses, they will gradually be able to make sense of it all. If not, or if they don't have the opportunity, they may become victims of those who do but at least most will have better knowledge and a better chance to make their way in our complex, god ridden words.

If anyone objects to excluding any words (yes, including swear words , myth words and scientific words), shame on them (probably perpetrators or victims of the parasite that is religion or people who pretend to be atheisis and humanists).

Why not oppose this and instead press for more Dictionaries and their universal availability. Would also help kids in Spelling B's.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 01:42:07 UTC | #932037

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 22 by VrijVlinder

QuestioningKat: I still don't understand why removing vocabulary from tests is beneficial. That this may be that or may cause that, are premature assumptions.

And making the test easier so you can guess the right answer does not make sense if you are evaluating the child by testing.

Might as well give them the answers and if they can't get it right then something is seriously wrong.

I was a Grade School Bi Lingual Instructional aid, lousy pay but was enjoyable work. I was in charge of spanish speaking students who just arrived to the USA. They expected me not to use Spanish as I gave them instruction. Something I felt was ridiculous. Why hire a bi lingual if they don't need to use spanish?

Had huge debates with the Teacher and the Principal. To no avail. The state defined rules demand english only immersion and Spanish was not to be used in class.

This is like tying the hands of the teacher behind their back. This is no different . Just makes it harder for the teacher.

Why should school be "Politically correct" or incorrect for that matter? Politics do not belong in the making of educational policy. And it will certainly not get rid of Poverty or help more black people play golf.

We already know poor people in poor towns have less access to education. And that white suburbia is full of potential Harvard alumni .

How can a test worth any thing not be biased? The point of a test is to improve education. By finding where the kids are not performing well.

If people are going to use lawsuits and leverage against schools, why bother teaching anything, just pass every one straight to college from kinder garden.

Those who nit pick over words and call them loaded should home school their kids.

Next thing they will abolish keeping score at a little league game because losing can damage the frail child's mind. ...

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 01:50:37 UTC | #932039

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 23 by xmaseveeve

Comment 10, spiritualAtheist,

When tea-partiers claim that their tax dollars are being misspent, I think they have this kind of thing in mind.

No, they would organise it.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 03:43:47 UTC | #932051

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 24 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 5 by mmurray :

No-one is suggesting the kids can't use these words. That is not what this is about.

Michael

The article says they want to ban those words from tests. I'm assuming they will go further and not allow the children to use them. I mean why not? If they are banned from tests, why not take them out of the school completely? They might as well go the whole hog. It makes sense.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 10:23:20 UTC | #932093

mmurray's Avatar Comment 25 by mmurray

Comment 24 by MilitantNonStampCollector :

Comment 5 by mmurray :

No-one is suggesting the kids can't use these words. That is not what this is about.

Michael

The article says they want to ban those words from tests. I'm assuming they will go further and not allow the children to use them. I mean why not? If they are banned from tests, why not take them out of the school completely? They might as well go the whole hog. It makes sense.

Why would you take them out of the school altogether? Removing words from the standardised tests is an attempt to give all the students an equal opportunity to demonstrate their ability. I am not sure it is necessary but as others have explained there are all kinds of political ramifications related to this testing, school funding, parents suing etc. I can't see any reason to remove the words from everyday school teaching.

Michael

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 10:36:06 UTC | #932095

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 26 by QuestioningKat

Comment 22 by VrijVlinder :

QuestioningKat: I still don't understand why removing vocabulary from tests is beneficial. That this may be that or may cause that, are premature assumptions.

It is an attempt to level the playing field not be beneficial or advantageous.

And making the test easier so you can guess the right answer does not make sense if you are evaluating the child by testing.

They are not trying to make it easier. The test frequently consists of word stories etc. They are replacing the subject matter or characters. It is as if the main character of a story was replaced, but the story would stay the same.

Might as well give them the answers and if they can't get it right then something is seriously wrong.

You're jumping to conclusions without fully understanding the issue.

I was a Grade School Bi Lingual Instructional aid, lousy pay but was enjoyable work. I was in charge of spanish speaking students who just arrived to the USA. They expected me not to use Spanish as I gave them instruction. Something I felt was ridiculous. Why hire a bi lingual if they don't need to use spanish?

I was an art teacher at a bilingual grade school. When I suggested that I would learn certain Spanish words, they asked me not to do so. All the regular classroom teachers and instructional aids spoke Spanish. I got pretty good at communicating non-verbally to non-English speaking children. The thought behind bilingual education was to teach the child in their own language while they learned English so there wouldn't be a "break" or challenges. I was their exposure to English though art can be taught non-verbally.

Why should school be "Politically correct" or incorrect for that matter? Politics do not belong in the making of educational policy. And it will certainly not get rid of Poverty or help more black people play golf.

Politics also refers to the social treatment of people.

Next thing they will abolish keeping score at a little league game because losing can damage the frail child's mind. ...

It's already being done. They also give everybody a trophy.

Overall, I think removing words like evolution, dinosaur... is really odd. I know that they do not want to offend a child and increase his chances of ignoring the question, but this could be corrected by improving the teaching of evolution.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 11:15:58 UTC | #932105

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 27 by QuestioningKat

Comment 24 by MilitantNonStampCollector :

Comment 5 by mmurray :

No-one is suggesting the kids can't use these words. That is not what this is about.

Michael

The article says they want to ban those words from tests. I'm assuming they will go further and not allow the children to use them. I mean why not? If they are banned from tests, why not take them out of the school completely? They might as well go the whole hog. It makes sense.

So you are saying to take the teaching of evolution out of schools?

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 11:19:27 UTC | #932106

notany's Avatar Comment 28 by notany

If I would have come across the word "divorce" on a test when I was a child, it probably would have caused me to shut down. I would have performed very poorly on that test, gotten a very low score, and reinforced bad feelings I had towards myself.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 11:51:35 UTC | #932113

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 29 by DavidMcC

Comment 24 by MilitantNonStampCollector

They might as well go the whole hog. It makes sense.

No, it does not.

Do you oppose banning the use of knives in the street on the grounds that "they will go the whole hog" and ban them in the kitchen too?

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 12:01:28 UTC | #932114

DEWDDS's Avatar Comment 30 by DEWDDS

The whole idea is ridiculous. By the way a standardized test does not preclude the use of essay style questions.

So imagine these hypothetical questions:

Discuss the concept of (censored) selection as it applies to biological (censored).

Which constitutional amendment banned the production and sale of (censored) in the U.S.?

Does this seem silly? Yep! Welcome to the world where ignorance trumps the use of harmless words that some think may cause offense when read.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 14:22:57 UTC | #932134