Critical Consumption

Critical Consumption

I remember gazing through the pages of tabloid magazines while waiting in the check-out aisle like the National Enquirer or (my favorite) World Weekly News. I knew that these glossy zines were not exactly reputable sources of information and were likened to frivolous amusement. Nowadays it seems to be more confusing deciphering what is fact or fiction;  in the age of the internet, it is easy to write and publish with little recourse, avoiding libel and at minimum cost (as opposed to the cost of hard copy publications). And, as such, the value of information is diminishing, as people lack faith that the people who write these stories have little interest in the truth, but instead in their profits.  How do you know what is the truth today? Do you believe these headlines:

  • “Smelling Farts May Prevent Cancer”.
  • “Yoko Ono Had an Affair with Hilary Clinton in the ’70s”
  • “Tupac is Alive”
  • “Trump Offering Free 1-way Tickets To Africa and Mexico for Those Who Want to Leave America”.

Can you guess which one of these headlines actually came from a legitimate journalistic source? (I’ll tell you at later in this blog post.) News has become entertainment instead of actually adding value to the understanding of what is going on in the world. Perhaps what has emerged lately in America is a fear that the media are creating a diversion while some more dubious things are underway in the new government. Consider this:

The results of a BuzzFeed News analysis found that in the three months before the (American) election the top performing fake news stories generated more engagement than top stories from major news outlets.

The 20 top performing fake news stories generated 8,711,0000 shares reactions and comments. The top 20 genuine news stories generated 7,367,000. –The Sun

So, with all of this in mind, how do we sift through the news and detect what is bonafide information let alone teach students to become discerning when they are doing research or engaged in social media? As educators and adults, we must master the skills of evaluation and be able to scrutinize our sources.  But even when we find information from a credible source, the online world is driven to write headlines that create click bait vs.reporting legitimate information. Remember those headlines above. Well, the one that came from a real publication, Time Magazine, was”Smelling Farts May Prevent Cancer”.  You can learn more about what the scientific study actually showed by watching this Jon Oliver segment below, but spoiler alert, bottling up the gas from our arse is NOT aromatherapy for cancer patients. Suffice to say, a credible source like Time Magazine is not always a guarantee that the information is true.

 

fake news.png

So, as we educate our digital natives, we too must learn and practice discernment. I think in this digital age, it is imperative to impart the skills of critical analysis of the information that they consume so we set up students to be engaged and thoughtful citizens in our nations.  I think one of the most important aspects is outright teaching them how to locate false information. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as we consider how important it is to not only spot false information parading as fact but also an action piece, in which, as digital citizens, we require higher standards from our news agencies and journalists. If demand follows supply, then there needs to be a shift towards what is important vs. what is popular–insisting that content makes us think critically. To me, teaching this is just as vital as being able to sift through the content that we are being bombarded with.

As I continue through the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC (#IMMOOC), this week we are discussing the idea of trust in relationships. George Couros enters into Chapter 4 with this quote, which I find connects to the idea  I share today:

We need to build more organizations that priortize the care of human beings. As leaders it is our sole repsonbility to protect our people and, in turn, our people will protect each other and advance the organization together. As employees or members of the group, we need the courage to take care of each other when our leaders don’t. And in doing so, we become the leaders we wish we had. -Simon Sinek-

In education, there is a deep need to empower our students with, not only the knowledge, but the skills to analyze our current issues and the motivation to transform their futures. I think about this quote and ponder the notion of courage, as we shift from the status quo in our classrooms, and integrate these sorts of digital literacies into our program. I wonder how can I, as an educational leader, alter our curriculum so that it encompasses these aspects of digital citizenship so that teachers feel like they have permission to explore these new territories? In my opinion, I feel like we owe it to our future generations to cultivate mindful and engaged consumers through the appropriate and intelligent teaching of these skills. Moreover, it is my duty to draw attention to this topic and establish the environment in which taking these risks in our classrooms are celebrated.

At the end of the day, it is our individual efforts that drive the change that we wish to see in the world. And I wish to see more critical consumption. Do I hear an Amen?

(Come join the conversation at #IMMOOC. You can contact me @judyimamudeen on Twitter)

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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