As the presidential campaign wore on last fall, there was a lot of fake news being circulated. And despite the best efforts of Facebook, I don’t imagine this will stop any time soon. I think educators have been slow to react because so much of fake news is political and discussions about politics can become explosive in our schools. But we cannot ignore this issue. I suggest there are two approaches to combat this problem and educate our students (and parents) effectively. We must establish a certain level of facts and simultaneously begin a program of media literacy in our curricula.
What facts are certain? I’ve heard the assertion that we living in a “post-facts” world where everyone’s opinion is valid. We have to resist this relativism. After all, when someone argues that the Holocaust didn’t happen, it’s not only wrong. It’s dangerous. When people argue that our President wasn’t born in the United States after it has been widely disproved, it is dangerous. We simply cannot allow anyone with an opinion or a website or a microphone to spout lies that undermine our country.
Our schools need to do better to establish scientific and historical facts: vaccines don’t cause autism, species evolve, climate change is happening, segregation and oppression are part of our heritage. Schools are not intellectual democracies where every idea is as good as the next one. Schools should teach the truth. And conspiracy theories should be met with large amounts of skepticism.
The second tactic should be media literacy. As a history teacher, we spent time looking at original sources to ascertain their veracity, their biases, and their message. We have all learned that just because something is written, it’s not true. But I don’t think we’re there yet with the Internet.
Below are a collection of stories, articles, and links which will help you learn about fake news, how to teach it, and what you can do.
How to Identify Fake News
- 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article by EasyBib Blog
- 4 Steps Schools Should Take to Combat Fake News by HuffPost
- Lisa Nielsen’s take on Fake News
- Battling Fake News in the Classroom by Edutopia
- Fake News Antidote: Teaching Kids to Discern Fact from Fiction by NPR
- 5 Strategies for Spotting Fake News (and why you need to) by Global Citizen
- The Greatest Gift: Teaching Kids to Fight Fake News by Todd’s Brain
- Combating Fake News by web20blog
- The Problem with Fake News and how you can solve it (video) by John Spencer
- Can you Tell Fake News from Real? by NPR
- Most Student Don’t Know When Stories are Fake by Wall Street Journal
- The Best Tips for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump by Teen Vogue
Social Media Curriculum
- Eight Document-based Lessons by the University of Portland
- Why Every High School Should Teach a Social Media Class by Medium
General Fake News Articles
- The Pot-Belly of Ignorance by Medium
- Schopenauer on the Dangers of Clickbait by Farnam Street
- Raising Media-Savvy Kids in the Age of Fake News by CNN
- The Remedy for Fake News? History Teachers by Smithsonian
- Why People Believe Fake Stories like ‘Pizza-gate’ by CNN
- How a Fake New Story was Written by New York Times