When “You’re Wrong” Isn’t Right: What Common Core Proponents Can Learn from the Anti-Vaxxers

commoncore1Misinformation about the Common Core State Standards Initiative abounds. Those who seek to correct this misinformation might glean some insights from recent public health research about the power of disinformation campaigns. Navigator Communications  suggests a new approach to communicating with parents and the public about the standards, based on communications work in the health sector.

Becky Fleischauer of Navigator Communications argues that research about the attempt to convince parents that vaccines do not cause autism (a myth based on faulty research done by a former doctor (his license was revoked) that has been conclusively disproved with research) offers a good picture of how difficult it is to correct misinformation. The causes may be diverse, but researchers believe one of the most important is the fact that people do not like to be wrong. Not only does it mean admitting fault; it also means making changes to one’s attitudes and practices that may be uncomfortable.

In response, Fleischauer makes two main suggestions: put teachers, masters at conveying information in a self-esteem boosting way, to work in correcting the misinformation.  After all, teachers are the ones who will be most affected by Common Core along with the students, so parents may be more open to hearing information and opinions from teachers.

Second, Fleischauer suggests employing a steady “show, not tell” strategy. The more that parents see the facts in a form from which they can draw their own conclusions, the more likely they are to overcome the misinformation that has been presented, such as that the Common Core Standards are a federal initiative.

With only Indiana having rejected the standards thus far, and others such as Arizona moving to simply change the name of the standards to make it more clear that the standards are a state-led initiative, Fleischauer is not yet too concerned for the ultimate fate of Common Core. Yet, she clearly believes that every bit of support helps in order to bolster this new initiative designed to prepare the next generation of American workers and bring Americans students onto a level playing field with their international peers.

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