Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 24
Fake News Isn't New
By Chris Doyle
ow should educators respond
to "fake news"? Recently, this
question has been discussed on
NPR and dozens of other media
outlets. It pervades education
blogs, gets raised urgently at
teacher meetings, and circulates
around the faculty lunch table
at the independent school where I teach. Lessons and
classes on "media literacy" are proliferating almost
as fast as the president's tweets. While the phrase is
newly in vogue, students well educated in U.S. history
should already be quite familiar with fake news and
how to assess it.
Fake news is integral to the American political tradition. It surfaces especially in moments of crisis. It
often involves conspiracy theories, outright lying, and
deceitful inference. It has presented as both fringe
I have taught this lesson for over 30 years, in both
high schools and colleges, and have seen how many
terrific history teachers impart the tools needed to
ferret out fake political claims. They do so, first, by
contextualizing the rhetoric of fakery: placing it in a
larger stream of events and ideas. They also provide
contrasting points of view and arguments. Additionally, good teachers dissect political rhetoric: Does it
appeal to hope or fear? Does it indict by inference
or fact? What role does it consign speaker and audience? Finally, committed teachers of history prize
complexity while insisting on truth-an end arrived
at through painstaking research and thought. Thus,
history teachers empower students to assess false assertions.
In his Pulitzer-winning classic from the 1960s, Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn analyzed The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution and discovered
the colonists' profound, yet groundless, insistence that
there existed a conspiracy in England to rob them of
their liberties. Revolutionary-era pamphlets repeatedly identified the architect of this plot as the English
politician John Stuart, Lord Bute, "whose apparent
absence from politics since 1763 could be seen as one
of his more successful dissimulations," Bailyn deadpanned. Thomas Jefferson wrote conspiracy into the
Declaration of Independence by asserting that King
George III's treatment of America "evinces a design
to reduce [the colonies] under absolute despotism."
History teachers should help students understand
how historical context and opposing viewpoints can
shed new light on such political rhetoric. In 1776, for
instance, most English politicians saw their American
policy as mild and enlightened. The Revolutionaries,
on the other hand, saw English policy as a massive
plot. It wasn't.
The run-up to the Civil War also included promi-
The Brain-Health Effect
By Nancy Grasmick
magine you are a 3rd grade teacher
in a well-respected school district;
you have a modern classroom
with all the bells and whistles, a
rigorous curriculum, and the latest instructional materials and
technology. The principal is a wellrespected instructional leader, and
the teachers and staff have formed a collaborative and supportive learning community. Your district's website trumpets a path
to closing the achievement gap by raising
standards, implementing a rigorous and
challenging curriculum, and supporting
highly qualified and competent teachers.
Now, imagine your class has several children who show little motivation to learn,
are frequently disrespectful, and become
easily distracted from the most basic task.
You implement a series of instructional and
classroom-management strategies and invite curricular and behavioral experts to
observe and offer advice for improvement.
With mounting frustration, you see your
students' negative behaviors continue.
As the Kennedy Forum-a convening of
experts in the neurosciences, education,
health care, research, and technology-affirmed in 2015, "Even the best teaching
and curricula can have surprisingly little
effect when a child's cognitive and emotional readiness to learn is not adequately
Adverse childhood experiences-including parents' divorce, exposure to violence,
mental illness of a caregiver, and the accumulated burdens of family economic
hardship-have an impact on the brain.
Exposure to these conditions affect a child's
ability to learn, navigate social situations,
self-regulate, and behave appropriately at
school. According to analysis of 2011-2012
National Survey of Children's Health data
from the research center Child Trends,
nearly half of America's children are exposed to such environmental conditions.
The Kennedy Forum (of which I am a
member) concluded that understanding
the impact of these adverse experiences
on learning and providing early-childhood
brain-fitness interventions might be the
key to narrowing the achievement gaps
found in our nation's most at-risk schools.
Why, then, are so few of our early-childhood
providers and teachers being trained to recognize these neurological indicators? Why
aren't our premier teacher-preparation
programs training future teachers to apply
In response to these questions, the Kennedy Forum is now calling for a "Race to
Inner Space." Making brain health and
fitness a national educational priority has
the potential to unveil educational neurological discoveries that rival the scientific
discoveries made during the Race to Outer
Space program initiated by President John
F. Kennedy in the 1960s.
The Kennedy Forum has identified several evidence-based interventions that
every American school should incorporate
into its curriculum: executive-functioning
skill development, social-emotional learning activities, mindfulness training, and
brain literacy. Medical advances in brain
imaging are now allowing neuroscientists
to see more clearly how the brain functions.
These medical advances are poised to have
an enormous impact on our education system.
Executive-function skills are considered
by many as the core building blocks of
24 | EDUCATION WEEK | March 22, 2017 | www.edweek.org/go/commentary
learning. Executive-function processes include such capabilities as memory, impulse
control, focus, prioritization and planning,
and goal persistence. In the past, these
skills were rarely developed intentionally
in schools. Teachers intuitively understood
that certain activities improved student
behavior and cognitive skills without ever
Why aren't our premier
programs training future
teachers to apply brainfitness interventions?"
understanding the brain science for why
this was so.
For example, nearly every elementary
school student has, at one time or another, played Simon Says, which requires
participants to listen carefully and follow
instructions. Through repetition, games
like Simon Says, Dance and Freeze, and
Red Light/Green Light can be used to reinforce memory, impulse control, and focus.
Some school systems have already begun
to pilot and explore curriculum and gametype tasks designed specifically to improve
executive-function skills in pre-K and elementary school children.
Social-emotional learning activities help
students understand and manage their
emotions and relationships through selfawareness, self-management, and empathy
for others. Responsive classroom programs
and restorative-justice practices using
communication circles with students have
shown tremendous promise in improving
classroom environment and culture.
Mindfulness training is often described
as preparing students to "be in the moment." Yoga and tai chi most often come
to mind, but variations include breathing
awareness, mindful walking or movements,
and listening and visualization exercises.
Mindfulness training teaches students to
use "calmness" and other techniques to
overcome stress, anxiety, depression, and
aggression. Mindfulness training returns
the brain to a receptive state of learning.
Brain literacy explains the anatomy of
the brain, how it functions, and the factors that affect its neurochemistry. Understanding how the brain develops, how
it processes information, and factors that
inhibit its normal functioning are critical to
both teaching and learning. Understanding
the developmental capacity of the brain enables teachers to present appropriate material for various age groups.
Many school systems are finding creative
ways to take these interventions from the
drawing board into the classroom. In Maryland, for example, the Baltimore-based
Kennedy Krieger Institute, where I am a
member of the faculty and board, has made
huge advances in the neurosciences and
brain function through the use of brainimaging technology.
For the past five years, the Institute has
been taking these advances from theory
into practice with a fellowship program
for training a new generation of highly
qualified educational leaders in special
education and the neurosciences. After an
interdisciplinary internship, the fellows go
on to conduct professional-development
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 22, 2017
Education Week - March 22, 2017
The Hard Work of Making School ‘For Everybody’
Parents See Benefits in Spec. Ed. Vouchers But No Silver Bullet
Trump Education Dept. Has Yet to Hit the Gas
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Cybersecurity Skills in Demand
News in Brief
Social Media Connects Students to Authors
Fifth graders, from left, Braiden Roy, Pendarrin Cayer, and Lindsay Strout wave to an author visiting them via Skype in Oxford, Maine.
Arts Standards Stress Broad Concepts, Include Media Arts
Plan to Shut Detroit’s Failing Schools Reveals Lack of Options
Kentucky’s Schools Are Poised for a Massive Shake-Up
ESSA Rules’ Rollback Complicates States’ Planning Process
Tuning Up the Message No Easy Lift as Ed. Secretary Settles In
Deep Cuts Proposed for Ed.Dept.
Chris Doyle: Fake News Isn’t New
Nancy Grasmick: The Brain-Health Effect
Q&A With Gary Younge: Seven Bullets a Day
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Tyrone C. Howard: Why Are We Criminalizing Black Students?
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Cybersecurity Skills in Demand
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 2
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 3
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - News in Brief
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Report Roundup
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Fifth graders, from left, Braiden Roy, Pendarrin Cayer, and Lindsay Strout wave to an author visiting them via Skype in Oxford, Maine.
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 7
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Arts Standards Stress Broad Concepts, Include Media Arts
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Plan to Shut Detroit’s Failing Schools Reveals Lack of Options
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Kentucky’s Schools Are Poised for a Massive Shake-Up
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 11
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 12
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 13
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 14
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 15
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Tuning Up the Message No Easy Lift as Ed. Secretary Settles In
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Deep Cuts Proposed for Ed.Dept.
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 18
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 19
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 20
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 21
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 22
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 23
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Nancy Grasmick: The Brain-Health Effect
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Letters
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Q&A With Gary Younge: Seven Bullets a Day
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Readers React
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 29
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 30
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - 31
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - Tyrone C. Howard: Why Are We Criminalizing Black Students?
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - CW1
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - CW2
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - CW3
Education Week - March 22, 2017 - CW4