There’s been a lot of talk lately about making, repeating, and distorting the truth within history. People want to believe what they feel. How someone is impacted by events in history has as much to do with the “emotional truth”- an interpretation of how events affect us on a deeply emotional level- as does the factual truth.
We see this daily (and minute by minute) as multiple versions of news stories compete against one another to gain readership. As initiatives like the 1776 Commission challenge the teachings and conclusions of our nation’s history, it’s more important than ever to search for reliability and accuracy in all our resources.
As educators, we are responsible for framing history as accurately as possible, without biased emotions, which presents an enormous challenge! In an effort to find the truth, both educators and students (actually, everyone) should adopt ways to discuss purpose and reliability of sources. Luckily, current educators and education companies are on top of and understand the need to fact check and verify sources. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal hold their journalists to the highest standards and require every story they tell to be rigorously fact checked. Lessons and articles from Common Sense Media and ISTE show guidelines to help students determine the worth of a particular resource. Here’s a brief description of the 4 main checkpoints:
- Purpose: Determine the goal and tone of the site. Is the tone neutral, or does it try to persuade you to take a particular side, or tempt you to buy a product?
- Reliability: Who wrote the source? What website is hosting the source? Where did the information come from?
- Authority: Again, where did the information come from? Is there a specific author listed? What are the author’s credentials? Does the source include a bibliography of other sources used?
- Currency: How old is the information, and has the website been updated recently (especially for topics in science and technology)?
Once both educators and students understand the process of evaluating sources, they can become their own fact-checkers. They will also gain access to better resources. You are on your way having learned one of many tools to support both truth and accuracy. Onward!
Hansen, C. (2017, June 10). Evaluate Websites Using the CRAP Checklist (9-12). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.uen.org/lessonplan/view/42812
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