A Facebook friend recently shared the Washington Post article (linked above) about the importance of teaching kids news literacy, along with the comment, “umm, yes?”
I laughed when I read this more polite version of “duh, of course this is something kids need right now”, and enjoyed our shared appreciation for the importance of teaching students to evaluate news sources for authority, bias, and credibility. In the article, writer Lynh Bui cites the Common Core’s emphasis on informational texts as a contributing factor to growing attention to news and media literacy, noting that, “demand to teach that sort of healthy skepticism and critical thinking is on the rise.”
I had saved this article to write about here, and I was reminded of it when I got to the ending paragraphs of a different news item, an op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman in the April 27 New York Times, Judgment Not Included. The Boston Marathon topic is what initially drew me to the column, and though much of that conversation is probably suited for forums other than this blog, Friedman’s conclusion about “the role of the Internet in shaping the minds of the alleged bombers” is especially pertinent to teachers, librarians, and parents.
Friedman comments on the alleged bombers’ use of the Internet in building their plans as,
“yet another reminder that the Internet is a digital river that carries incredible sources of wisdom and hate along the same current. It’s all there together. And our kids and citizens usually interact with this flow nakedly, with no supervision.”
But Friedman doesn’t stop at media literacy as the ultimate tool in navigating this digital river. He explains that “internal filters” must be cultivated: traditional sensibilities, compassion, and caring, and that teachers and caring adults have a critical role to play in supporting this development:
“And that’s why the faster, more accessible and ultramodern the Internet becomes, the more all the old-fashioned stuff matters: good judgment, respect for others who are different and basic values of right and wrong. Those you can’t download. They have to be uploaded, the old-fashioned way, by parents around the dinner table, by caring but demanding teachers at school and by responsible spiritual leaders in a church, synagogue, temple or mosque.”