I used to make the argument that a criterion for judging whether students had learned what they should by the time they graduated high school is that they could (and would want to to a relatively high degree, want to) read articles in all sections of the New York Times and attain from their reading an operational understanding of those articles. By operational, I meant that they would understand the content well enough to grasp the meaning of what was said in such a way as to use what they learned to make sensible decisions–if warranted–based on the meanings they had developed. I just watched the movie The Big Short. I think that any student graduating high schools should be able to make sense of that movie and I say this because, in significant ways, the decisions they make about the meaning of life in this American society and how to live in it depends on being able to understand what is discussed in the film and the meaning of what is discussed in regard to the quality of life they will be able to live and how to go about making decisions, personal and political, that will affect their quality of life, the goodness of the society in which they live.
Let’s set the bar higher — I want students to see through the NYT and its agenda which is, in many ways, provincial and shortsighted.
Operational understanding of those articles. In getting the “meaning” they would be detecting bullshit as well as getting information. Editorial would be understood for what it is worth–what it is really worth–as well as reviews, distinguishing opinion from fact, determining how to take fact when provided in terms of meaning related to conceptualization of world and how to act in and on the world. “Grasping meaning” should get at the concerns here.