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Jeb Bladine: Lessons needed for SAT Generation

The “Covington Controversy” at last week’s March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. is a teachable moment if people can absorb the lesson.

A much-viewed encounter involved members of a black religious sect, students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School, and a Native American drummer.

ideo snippets on social media and television news resulted in instant outrage directed at the students. As more video context arose, partisan political voices began bashing each other based on new interpretations of the complex encounter.

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For more on that, look for a compelling commentary by teacher/writer Chris Cox online in the Smoky Mountain News. As he wrote:

“The more you watch the footage, the more ambiguous it becomes, at least in terms of how these events unfolded, and why. The news was not fake. It was not staged. It was just more complicated than it seemed. We may live in an age of instant news and immediate access to it, but that doesn’t mean that there should also be a rush to draw conclusions. Nor does it mean that eventually, in the search for truth, that conclusions cannot and should not be drawn. The truth is out there.”

It’s all too complex for news dominated by the government shutdown and postponement of the State of the Union, but not too tangled to suggest an essential lesson: Stop and Think.

SAT. Perhaps that lesson should replace the better-known SAT — Scholastic Aptitude Test — as a benchmark of beneficial learning. Examples of the need are endemic.

We need to Stop and Think before responding to the hype of television “breaking news.” We see the need in hip-shooting online comments; we hear them in day-to-day conversations.

Too often, our approach to mental calisthenics involves a rush to judgment. No wonder so many prominent proverbs encourage variations of “look before you leap.”

Stop and Think. Was the offensive statement or image true? Was it a complete depiction of what happened? Are personal biases blocking acknowledgment that people legitimately have opinions different from yours?

I found information about the “Stop & Think Parenting Book,” which helps adults teach children important behavioral skills — listening, following directions, how to interrupt, accepting consequences, apologizing, managing peer pressure and teasing, etc. — and how to use those skills in real life.

Math and language skills are important, so traditional SATs will continue. But how about a generation of children who learn, first and foremost, to Stop and Think.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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