Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Modest Proposal with apologies to Swift

Talking with my colleague Charlie Garcia yesterday about the recent presidential debate he suggested a plan that might improve the quality of the candidates responses, a perfectly reasonable proposal which I think deserves our consideration.  Instead of the oral arguments/stump speeches that are delivered give the candidates a written test.  Questions are submitted and the candidates write their responses.  The major difference and dramatic change would be that answers that went "off topic" would be returned to be revised.  We talked about how in our work as elementary school teachers we teach students how to stay on topic and completely answer the questions because on the typical standardized tests students loose points for not answering all aspects of a question.  In the parlance of presidential debates, not answering a question completely and going off topic is called a "pivot".  When the candidates have written, revised and edited their questions to the point that they answer the questions and provide enough evidence to support their positions they could read their answers on the air.  Having worked in broadcast media myself I realize that the networks may fear losing viewers but this might prove to be a ratings bonanza.  I would suggest making the process into a reality show, where you could follow the teachers as they grade the papers, the students/candidates as they pull all nighters trying to complete the answers before their next fundraiser.  I've got a big batch of red pens ready to go and would be glad to spend some time helping the candidates stay on topic, answer the questions and maybe even learn something in the process.  It's a modest proposal that could have some enlightening and possibly entertaining results.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite generous of you to believe that candidates can perform up to the level of elementary school students. Given a few weeks of preparation and training, I believe that it could happen, but not during the limitied time of a campaign cycle, a political term, or even my lifetime. It is easier to run on vague and reassuring than specific and accountable.