I’ve touched on this before when talking about critique. However with recent political events I think students need to be taught how to be sceptical.
This week in my year 11 classes I have got them to consider these terms in relation to a continuum of belief. The main part of the lesson focused on extremism but I paused for a moment to tell them how they must become more sceptical.
Their first reaction to a piece or text or media should be to quickly internally assess it.
- Where is it from?
- Why was it created?
- Who created it?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is it accurate?
- What bias might it have?
The beauty of becoming truly sceptical is that in order to clarify a source, further research needs to be done. Our students desperately need to be able to research effectively but independently. They shouldnt rely on my interpretation or even my biased viewpoint. They need to find out what else is being said, who is saying it and why. Knowledge is power. The more they know about the issue and surrounding knowledge the better they will be at being critical about it.
But this scepticism is not just for the classroom; its desperately needed online. One student told me he just presses the ‘share’ button regardless. He doesn’t care whether it is true or not. He genuinely couldn’t see what was potentially problematical with doing that. In some cases he is sharing propaganda and potentially libellous material without even thinking. This is really worrying.
Scepticism belongs to all subjects and all classrooms but it needs to be taught. Teachers need to be pleased to be challenged over an issue with students not defensive. As clichéd as it is, I genuinely think is one of the things we can do for students that will equip them for life.