May 07, 2018
May 07, 2018
⏱ 3 min read
Today, students are often referred to as “digital natives” because they’ve grown up online, from conducting ad-hoc research on the internet to using social media to communicate.
Students are used to browsing digitally manipulated photos and other forms of media for entertainment. However, these more creative forms of information can generate fake narratives—probably most obviously pointed out during the last general election.
In November 2016, Stanford University published a study that found more than 7,800 middle school, high school and college students were unable to determine if the information that pops up on their smartphone or tablet is credible.
The opportunity: Teachers can use their expertise to help students become thoughtful consumers of news and information. Because most of what we consume today comes from online news sources, teachers can be seen as the defenders of our democracy, and the developers for future generations who will demand truth.
Want to learn more about opportunities for teachers? Sign up for Talk to a Teacher to grab 30 minutes with one today.
Teachers are journalists
Wielding the power of fact vs. fiction is a skill. In the classroom, teachers do it every day. They have to be dynamic, relevant and captivating to make learning more thrilling than the last sensational headline in a student’s newsfeed.
How do teachers do it? Some invite students to live through moments of history or create social media campaigns as a literacy lesson in persuasion. For teachers, truth is the most exceptional story that can activate the mind. Most importantly, teachers can incorporate students’ personal, powerful stories into the classroom—the ones that inspire them to do great things.
Simo Atagi, tenth grade World History teacher at Fort Osage School District, explains:
If I told stories in my history class without passion, students wouldn’t buy into what I’m trying to teach them.
Teachers uphold our democracy
The title of this section might seem exaggerated, but ask yourself where you were when you first learned about the Constitution. Even beyond fundamental history lessons, however, teachers have taken things a step further in the modern age:
The News Literacy Project elevates the essential role teachers play in exposing students to journalism, ethics and the American right to freedom of speech. Teachers can reach more diverse voices and be a conduit for entire communities by helping students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.
Teachers know that their students are connected to a network of family members, friends and neighbors. One student is a reach into an entire community, and when students are grounded in the understanding of their democracy, they can inspire adults to be active citizens.
As Nikki White, second grade teacher at Liberty Public Schools, put it:
Keep telling your story. What is going on in your classroom that you're proud of, that the students are proud of, and that you would like everyone to know and learn from?
Teachers can give advice today
If you want to help shape the future of truth-tellers in the U.S., consider a career in education. The best way to learn about one? Talk to someone who’s in it.
Sign up for Talk to a Teacher to get advice straight from the source. Whether you’re weighing different professional options or ready to get your teacher certification tomorrow, we’ve got experts in the field ready to talk you through it.
Psst… you can find even more reasons to consider this rewarding field on our Teacher Appreciation Week page.