Astonishingly bad teaching materials

JISHOU, HUNAN — Multiple-choice tests may be one of the easiest kinds of tests to take, but they are the hardest kind for a teacher to write. This may explain why some MC tests are so astonishingly bad, such as the ones highlighted at Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, Leaving Fundamentalism. Scaramanga’s blog includes MC questions from the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) series, which are widely used among homeschoolers and so-called “schools” run by fundamentalist churches. Most violate every known principle of designing useful MC questions. Let me explain. Most MC questions give three to five choices, from which the test-taker must choose the best. Good questions challenge the student’s knowledge and understanding by providing answers that seem plausible, but are not quite correct. Some choices are called “distractors,” because they are there to mislead an inattentive or ill-prepared student into choosing them. Some teachers (like me) throw in a few joke choices from time to time, just to lighten things up. At my former school, there is a teacher surnamed Miron, which made for a perfect joke answer for a question involving subatomic particles: proton, electron, meson, miron. But designing MC tests is a nightmare, especially if you want the test ...

Scary “Christian” youth stuff 2

We were watching CNN late Saturday night and caught the tail end of a report on Teen Mania, Ron Luce’s Christian youth indoctrination organization. Watching the pre-teens and teens at one of Luce’s BattleCry events was downright scary. Luce’s message, which is tinged heavily with his brand of fundamentalism, is that popular culture is corrupting our youth. He pounds into his young congregants the need to reject all the commercialism, sex, drugs and whatnot rife in secular culture. He woos impressionable pre-teens and teens with the usual fundie blend of showbiz and pulpit-pounding demagoguery. While telling them to reject pop culture, he uses (Christian) rock music, pyrotechnics, and variety of merchandise to convert his BattleCry event audiences to the Teen Mania way. Watching adults sway in some kind of hypnotic rapture during a fundie church service is one thing. Seeing kids as young as 10 with their eyes closed and arms upraised, entranced by Luce’s brand of religion by the hundreds is alarming. Pop culture is evil, kids. It’s poisoning your minds, removing all that is good from your souls. Instead, empty your minds of all free will and follow me instead. That’s the Luce message. An army of Christian ...
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