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Why Schools Need to Emphasize Cause and Effect

When I use to teach English and Social Studies, some of the liveliest classroom discussions were regarding cause and effect. Countless number of times, students would ask why an event took place. Better yet, they would want to know what makes a person so important in history or as a part of a literary story.

There is a fine line when it comes to teaching cause and effect. At times, it is easier to teach good v. evil in literature and history. Every child in the U.S. can tell you who Hitler was based on a foundation that he was evil. Explaining who Hitler was is a different story. How did he come to power? Why should we study the holocaust? Invoking a cause and effect essay to explain his rise to power certainly helps us avoid future situations in history.

As an English teacher, I often chose literary selections that examined the human condition. I wanted students to wonder why people behave the way they do as part of realistic fiction or factual story. When students learn how a character develops, they can learn empathy for both positive and negative persons in a story.

The world would be a much better place if we encouraged people to understand cause and effect. Without critical analysis, we fall back on good v. evil analogies. This is why we live in the dangerous world we live in today. For example, the current situation in the Middle is with ISIS. From the standpoint of Syria and Iraq, we are going to portray the Islamists as evil. When it comes to our Saudi friends, we will describe them as Good. We like to play the good and evil card when we need it as a nation. If we could slow down, and understand the Middle East using cause and effect analogies, just maybe we could see some long term planning for peace in the Middle East.

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