Fact-checkers practice “lateral reading”—meaning that they verify information by parsing a variety of resources.
I love this. This is the foundation of my entire 8th grade English curriculum. No matter what specific state standard or larger theme we’re working on, the bottom line is learning how to find and interpret accurate, unbiased info - or, more accurately, be able to spot the inaccuracies and biases across sources (and yourself as a reader) in order to come to a more informed (yet ever-evolving!) conclusion. This is CRITICAL!As an interesting side note, I recall being encouraged as an eighth grade student writing persuasive essays to just make up facts or statistics, because it was just the writing you were practicing. I don’t think the teacher could have ever predicted how bad of an idea that probably was...
I think people are learning to be more suspicious of what they read, but are not yet suspicious enough of what they read when they're predisposed to agree with it.
One of the most interesting things I learned when I reported this story was that many news literacy experts are annoyed by the focus on “critical thinking” as a catch-all term for what we need kids to learn in their classes. Sam Wineburg, of Stanford’s History Education Group, told me: “The people who say ‘all we need are critical thinkers,’ I’m sorry, I could […] raise Socrates from the dead and he still wouldn’t know how to choose keywords, and he would know nothing about search engine optimization, and he would not know how to interpret the difference between a ‘.org’ and a ‘.com.’”
Former HS English and journalism teacher here to say: Media literacy should absolutely be required in schools. It's an essential life skill and way of thinking akin to learning to analyze prose.
I don’t know if I’m really happy about this or deeply saddened that this is where we are with information and the human race. “interrogate information instead of simply consuming it,” “verify information before sharing it,” “reject rank and popularity as a proxy for reliability,” “understand that the sender of information is often not its source,” and “acknowledge the implicit prejudices we all carry.”