What do dinosaurs, Halloween, birthdays and dancing have in common?
They are all words being banned by New York City schools on standardized testing used to measure student performance throughout the school year. New guidelines are being set by states across the nation, called sensitivity guidelines.
These guidelines will govern English, math, science and social-studies tests, which the city has forbidden to include a long list of what it deems “sensitive” words that could evoke unpleasant emotions, according to an article in the New York Post.
What’s wrong with those words? Well, a dinosaur could make someone who is sensitive about evolution upset. Halloween is considered a pagan holiday. Birthdays are not celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses. And some sects don’t allowing dancing, either.
Overall, the city has banned 50 topics, all of them deemed to be too sensitive and possibly upsetting to students. In addition to those listed, the list includes any words that suggest wealth or poverty, divorce or disease, terrorism, slavery and homelessness. All of them might be too close to home for children.
Avoiding topics that could evoke unpleasant emotions on exams that measure reasoning is counterproductive, say some experts. After all, aren’t they supposed to be developing reasoning about those very, real life topics?