undergrads

Turning Undergrads into Independent Learners

College educators have often lamented the unintended influence of standardized testing on students’ thinking skills. In my discipline, English, freshman instructors note that the short reading passages appearing on tests have limited students’ ability to follow—or even finish reading—longer pieces. Worse, as NCTE has noted, the tests’ multiple choice format gives readers the impression that every text has one, and only one, definite meaning.

Scales of Justice

Balancing Free Speech and Social Justice to Secure the Future of Intellectual Freedom

Katie Chamberlain Kritikos: The impetus for this talkback was the controversy surrounding the publication in January of this year of a children’s book called A Birthday Cake for George Washington. Because critics instantly condemned the book for its depiction of smiling slaves, publisher Scholastic Press withdrew the book and halted its distribution.

This withdrawal encapsulates the shifting social context of intellectual freedom in the United States. Traditionally, free speech advocates decry any attempt to suppress expression. A growing emphasis on social justice creates tension between the foundation and the future of intellectual freedom. This post considers the recent controversies over children’s books, trigger warnings, and free speech online to explore this crossroads of information policy.