professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Either, Or? Neither?

We received a flyer from the "Conservative" Republicans of Texas (an oxymoron if I ever saw one) that came complete with a pre-marked ballot indicating the way they believe we should vote in the upcoming primary (though we are registered Dems in this house). What was particularly interesting, though, was the handy chart on the back of this mailing indicating the difference between conservative Republicans and "Liberals." It is an either or decisions. Sort of like the one Bush issued when he said we either supported the war or the terrorists. In this case, here are some of my choices:

Repubs Dems

oppose LGBT agenda which requires allow men to enter into women's rest rooms, locker
homosexuality to be TAUGHT rooms, and showers

for capital punishment against capital punishment

for income tax cuts for tax increases and income redistribution

It goes on (and on and on and on), but you get the drift. This is not a new approach. We have seen it in education. Back in the reading wars, you were either aligned with phonics or you were in league with the devils of whole language. False dichotomies, anyone?

We need to be careful when it comes to programs that ask us to abandon one practice in favor of another. Many of these programmed approaches offer false dichotomies. One of my favorites has to do with levels and Exiles. The argument goes that, if we fail to level books and use levels and Exiles when selecting books for kids, they will never read anything that challenges them. This is false on more than one ground. First, as we have demonstrated here time and again, levels and Exiles are not accurate measures of the complexity (nor the rigor if you prefer that word which I don't). There is another fallacy or dichotomy here that is sort of unspoken: that has to do with choice. If we are the only ones selecting texts for readers, we are eliminating CHOICE. That would be wrong as well.

So, beware those false dichotomies. I think sometimes they are easier to see in these insane political flyers, but they exist in our field as well and are just as polarizing and harmful.
Tags: false dichotomies
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