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Fourth graders are woke

Marie O’Connor

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Recently my fourth grade sister, who attends Joseph Sears School, had to complete an assignment that struck me as really impressive considering she’s only nine years old.

The assignment was to compare the pro and con arguments regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I feel confident in saying that many high schoolers would not be able to complete this assignment if it were assigned today.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I would be in that population of people.

After some research and general overview provided by my younger sister, I have a general concept of the pipeline, hopefully enough of an understanding to write this article.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, involves the proposed construction of a pipeline traveling under the Missouri River from North Dakota to Illinois carrying crude oil that has been extracted through fracking.

The pipeline will carry approximately 570,000 barrels of crude oil to Illinois everyday.

The controversy surrounding the pipeline has brought together multiple groups of protesters banding together to oppose the construction.

The Standing Rock Sioux are fighting to stop the pipe from being built because the construction would disturb a Native American burial ground and the creation of the line may put the main water source of the tribe in danger.

Environmentalists have a broader bone to pick with DAPL and want to stop the construction because they claim it is leading to a greater dependency on fossil fuels and supports the controversial use of fracking for trapped oil in the earth’s surface.

Objectively, the pipeline would significantly increase the access of crude oil to be processed in the US, and preliminary environmental projections predict that it is not likely that the pipeline will taint the water.

Also, the plans for where the pipeline is to be laid does not cross the official reserve of the Rock Sioux people.

Standing This ethical, moral, and fiscal dilemma has created a heated political divide, and has led to protests and thousands of people traveling to North Dakota to voice their beliefs.

The thing that struck me as so amazing while researching this pipeline was that my nine-year-old sister was being taught to compare the sides of this debate and encouraged to develop her own opinion.

It’s not that surprising that a school on the North Shore would want to teach kids how to navigate a political issue.

Kids from around here who will later attend New Trier or other area high schools are taught that they will be important members of society.

Lawyers, teachers, politicians, CEOs, all of these professions are within reach of New Trier graduates.

Personally, I think that’s why so many people want their kids to live in this area, and go to the schools we have here.

We are taught to think for ourselves on tough topics. However, this type of education has been under fire lately.

Take, for example, the upcoming seminar day. Some parents and members of the New trier community have been critical of the day, labeling it left wing propaganda, or believing it too one-sided.

I would argue that this debate leads to an even greater question. Who should be in charge of what students are learning?

I’m sure many of the parents who are opposed to the seminar day would be distressed to learn that fourth graders are being taught to form their own opinion on a controversial environmental and ethical situation.

Teaching kids at a young age to navigate society and form their own opinions based on fact and their own morals will lead to a more productive and informed adult society in the future.

I can think of a few individuals who would have benefitted from an education, where facts are taken seriously and one is taught how to respectfully disagree with differing opinions.

It will not benefit society if kids are all taught to think the same way, or are shielded from potentially uncomfortable conversations.

If nine year olds understand that debate and conversation are at the root of discovery and education, then it should be clear that creating uber-regulated classes with censored topics will not lead to more intelligent people.

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The student news site of New Trier High School.
Fourth graders are woke