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Posts Tagged ‘debate

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I enjoy the HiHo Kids series where children sample food they have not eaten before. This video was the first one I found that featured a friendly debate between a mother and her daughter about the latter’s right to get a phone.

Spoiler: The daughter, Phoebe, won two out of three rounds of the debate while her mother won just one. But her mother still won. The challenge was seemed to be stacked against the child.

I could focus on how this was not a proper debate and the judging seem arbitrary. Only one of the three judges was a teacher who had some structure on how to analyse and evaluate statements.

I could also dwell on how the child presented possibilities while the mother focused on her worries. The child projected and the mother rejected.

Or I could zoom in on how the mother wanted her child to enjoy childhood. I wonder how valid it is to equate owning and using a phone with losing childhood. Who is to say that the phone is not part of childhood?

But no. I focus on the adults in the video bringing up Phoebe’s age and the most common comments left about the video.

The judges seemed impressed that Phoebe was so well-spoken for an eight-year-old. She certainly held her ground. Others might describe her as mature for her age. And yet the adults felt that being eight was too young.

Just how young is too young? Age is not the issue. The maturity, readiness, and need are. We probably know of 16-year-olds that should not have phones and kids half that age who are wise beyond their years.

Many of the arguments in the YouTube comments contained a variation of “when I was that age…” or “I am older and I still don’t have a phone”. They are missing the point. It is not their time or context we are talking about. It is Phoebe’s time now and the age we are living in.

Kids need to not just be savvy with technology but also wise with it. The longer they are denied technology and the less guidance we give them as they use it, the less prepared they will be.

I have always wondered why people do not question the phrase “it is like comparing apples and oranges”.

This phrase is often uttered in a debate or argument when a person means to say that a proper comparison is not being made.

When I hear that phrase, I think: Why can’t the comparison be made? Are apples and oranges not fruit? I may agree that a comparison is not logical, but I do not agree with the phrase.

If you are going to make comparisons, you want A and B to be in a logical pair or part of a genre. Apples and oranges are fruit and I think you are entitled to compare them.

If you compared one apple with another, you would be making relatively superficial arguments, e.g., about the colour, shape, skin, taste. They are still apples. If you wanted a deeper or more creative argument, you might need to compare apples with oranges.

Some folks have started comparing conventional university courses (like mass lectures) and xMOOCs. Are they different fruit and therefore comparable?

Both seem to be attempting school hundreds or thousands of people efficiently. That might be a fair comparison.

But when people juxtapose the attrition rates in universities vs MOOCs, the comparison falls apart. Students pay university tuition fees; they can still take most MOOCs for free. It is much more painful to drop a course in one compared to the other. The comparison is not fair from a financial point of view.

Another difference is the drive or motivation for taking a course. A university course is likely to be part of a larger programme, and barring electives, compulsory. A MOOC that is not part of your course of study is one you might take because of a whim, curiosity, or interest.

If we add cMOOCs to the fruit salad, the comparisons become even more difficult.

But back to apples and oranges.

If you compare mass traditional university courses with xMOOCs, you are comparing apples superficially. If you compare them as different fruit, you run the risk of unfair or illogical comparisons.

So I now agree that you cannot always compare apples with oranges.

Contrarian by drodesign, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  drodesign 

How many times have you had a debate, friendly or not, and have the phase “Let’s agree to disagree!” cross someone’s lips?

I say no to that, especially if the other party is only disagreeing for the sake of doing so. The only time I buy that statement is when both parties have agreed that one plays the devil’s advocate.

If not, there is no intellectual or practical reason for the exchange.

Let us not agree to disagree. Let us disagree with facts, reason, or logic.

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