Thursday, October 04, 2012


true / false (Mon/Thurs outtake) by Krista76, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Krista76 

I heard something disturbing on my way in to work this morning.

I listen to a podcast called A Way With Words. The hosts talk about language and take calls from listeners (it's also a weekly, syndicated radio show). One caller had a question regarding something the teacher taught his daughter.

He was taking his 8-year-old daughter to school, and she was reading the packaging of some product or other. She was going down the "page" saying "Fact. Fact. Fact. Fact."

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Practicing identifying facts."

"What do you mean?"

She replied that the teacher had shown them how to identify facts. And then she explained that the teacher had told her that "facts" are statements that could either be proven true or false. (They're doing a section in her third-grade class on fact vs. opinion.)

"Whoa!" he thought. "That isn't correct. Maybe she just misunderstood."

So he spoke with the teacher about it. The daughter hadn't misheard or misremembered. This public school teacher told this concerned father that the word 'fact' has changed its meaning so that it now means . . . a statement. Or perhaps an assertion. That could either be true or false. That the entire requirement of truth and provability is moot. The hosts disagreed, and so do I.

Every dictionary the hosts checked—and that I've checked—disagrees with this . . . monument to everything wrong with our education system. A "fact" must be true/exist. That's in the definition. If this idiot is teaching kids that a "fact" can be wrong, that explains so many, many things. (The media springs to mind.)

Has anyone else encountered this? Please say it's isolated . . .