Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Opinion about Fact and Opinion

First, begin with how a teacher instructs their students so they can take a standardized test.

“When students define a fact as any statement that can be proven to be true or false, they will concern themselves less with whether the statement is accurate and focus more on whether each statement can be proven.  Hence, they will better be able to identify facts and opinions.”

Let’s try one:  “French fries taste better with ketchup.”
Teachers and standardized tests grade this statement as an opinion.  However, using taste tests, I can prove, assuming a pre-defined level of statistical significance, that this statement is either true or false. Using science, I can prove that ketchup has enough sugar to stimulate the brain's neurotransmitters so that the french fries will taste better.

The Common Core Standards require elementary school teachers to instruct students to write an opinion piece and support their writing with more information.  As students get older, the focus shifts to requiring students to avoid opinion statements and use facts to support their writing.  However, this is very confusing to students as to what is fact and what is opinion.  These can change depending on the context and how the words “fact” and “opinion” are defined. 
 These words have a unique meaning in the context of standardized tests that is a different meaning than used in everyday conversation.  Also, scientists, engineers and business professionals have different assumptions, values and beliefs such that opinion is shunned, and the focus is to rely solely on facts.

Well, that's my opinion about facts and opinion.