Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
It has been a few weeks since I have posted. I felt like I was overdoing it a bit with posts and requests for support. But, with the election less than a year away I believe that you need and deserve to know me as I want to know you. So, I am going to post more regularly about issues in education, my views, things about me, and issues that I think we should be discussing.
I have been giving a lot of thought to the conversations that have been going on about guns, race, sexuality, health care, taxes, religion, travel, Russia, obstruction, political parties, and ideologies. The rhetoric is brutal, violent, and dismissive. People from both sides are using any information that they find online as evidence of their side. With this inundation of information, it is important to be able to sift through mess and formulate an idea of what is really going on.
Here is the problem. Information is persuasive. The information doesn’t have to be correct, true, or reliable. But, if it fits someone’s worldview, it holds weight. With sites like Occupy Democrats, Infowars, Breitbart, U.S. Uncut, Red State, and Addicting Info all using sensationalism and confirmation bias to further strengthen beliefs, it isn’t surprising that we are getting more and more fractured as a society. In addition, there are bloggers out there that write with seeming facts, but are just opinion pieces that do the same. Even the legitimate media has bias (Huffington Post and Fox News) that does the same.
I read news from across the spectrum. On my Sirius XM radio, I have the BBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN saved as sources. When a story comes up, I listen to each to hear the different perspectives. I subscribe to the Economist and Time for print media. I gather information from the New York Times and Washington Post. I go online to read the National Review and The Guardian.
What does this mean to me? As a candidate for the Columbia County School Board I want to push students toward being critical thinkers. I want our children to be able to gather information, evaluate that information, weigh the validity of information, and come to conclusions based on rationality and the ability to discern what is real by the accumulation of knowledge.
However, this isn’t only about news and politics. This same skill set can be applied to literature, science, history, and any other content area. Being able to process and use information is an essential skill that we all need.
Democracy isn’t easy. Democracy requires effort. Democracy requires people to understand the world around them and to be able to not be bullied into believing a single world view. Democracy requires people to be able to think for themselves and not be blinded by anger, hate, bigotry, or fear. This goes on both sides of the spectrum.
As someone that has devoted his life to education and to the education of all members of our society (from high school to grad school), we need to strip away the mandates and assessments that are crippling critical and creative thinking. Yes, many individual teachers do a great job in individual classrooms, but the system is set up for a conformity of thought, compliance, and regurgitative knowledge. As we move forward, society needs to be able to think. Students need to develop a love for reading. Students need to be challenged to think critically. Students need to be creative problem solvers.
With all of that in mind, as a school board member and lifelong advocate for education, I want to help create a school district that is not shackled by assessments and test prep and the standardization of thought. I support the expansion programs that challenge students to think critically and creatively.
My name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.