Teaching a Real Way to Deal with Fake News

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt
I recall a wise teacher in grade school once warning us, “Don’t believe everything you read!” My, how that advice is ten-fold more important for students today. In our digital age that rewards immediate gratification, young people are drawn toward the first sources of information and answers they can find, including the news at the top of their first Google search page. And as we have heard often from the media itself, a growing percentage of news coverage is heavily weighted toward either end of the political spectrum or worse, fabricated entirely. "Fake news" is now part of our daily lexicon. So how do we help students ignore erroneous media through carefully discerning fact from fiction?  

First, it is helpful to have students develop a habit of probing the source of their information as well as the author’s intent when publishing it. In class discussions, students should practice scrutinizing content from various websites and compare sources. One useful exercise is to have students read the same coverage of a story from CNN, The New York TimesMSNBC, and Fox News to compare the facts and information emphasized. It can also be useful for teachers to model how they browse websites and gain information from social media or determine which stories they may choose to comment on or repost.
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Of course, t
here’s no one best way to identify and teach about heavily biased or fake news. And since the media is constantly evolving, adults must be equally nimble when helping students become better informed. But this responsibility may be one of the most important jobs we share. As John Adams wrote over two hundred years ago, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people . . .” And that knowledge should be based in unbiased facts if we want to help students preserve much of what our country was founded upon and continues to hold dear.


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