What’s wrong with this?

I’m preparing to teach in January. I just got a copy of the course textbook, and I’ve been reading through it. I came across this paragraph, and has a visceral reaction to it:

Society has changed. In the past it was the norm for families to join together around a dinner table and talk about the events of the day. People read newspapers and watched or listened to news broadcasts from professional journalists. These journalists gathered information from trusted sources, then shared the information with the masses. Now it is the responsibility of the individual to determine what information is correct. Now families who want to learn what members of the household are doing check status updates, posts, or send texts. As reflected upon by Dr. Jason Ohler, the days of the dining room discussion has gone away and now dining rooms have been changed to “gathering spaces” (Ohler, 2014). ~(Ribble, 2014, p.12)

I’m reading this while having a background conversation about how the victors write the history books. The discussion sparked because of a blog post written by my friend Maha Bali – where she talks about the importance of writing multiple versions of history, but also the importance of hearing those multiple versions.

I wonder in how many ways the sample paragraph above is wrong? In how many ways could it be rewritten to demonstrate the difference between the past and the current state of technology use within ‘family’ units? How it might also mention that although journalists of the past were seen as ‘experts’ in what they presented, their stories were always biased – and often incorrect. Anyone who has ever been interviewed for an article can tell you just how often professional journalists got the story wrong! And yet, that is seen as a credible source where the living accounts given on blogs are not …

Anyways, I thought I’d share that paragraph and ask my various friends – in what ways is this paragraph wrong? How can I turn this into a ‘teachable moment’?

2 responses

  1. jaapsoft Avatar

    society has changed = what society? Rural China, Eastern European, Scottish Highlands? society is a very abstract noun.
    in some countries families gather around the meal, and the meal is in one dish on the carpet. In other families we join around a table. And some people (probably more than you can think of) do eat alone or in public places.
    My family of grown up children does meet, use skype, the phone, even write letters. A family with children at home is only a phase in life.

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