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Fake news: reflection questions and activities

Michele Frankeni  |  01 May 2018

bird whispering in earRead the article ‘Fake news’ in the Australian Catholics Autumn 2018 edition and answer the following questions. Share your answers in pairs or groups.

Questions 

  1. What is fake news?
  2. How can you guard against consuming fake news?
  3. How/where do you get your news?
  4. With online algorithms able to target what you’re interested in how do you make efforts to seek out differing points of view?
  5. Can you think of why there may be problems if you’re hearing only one-sided opinions?
  6. Journalists are told to be objective and report both sides of the argument. Can you think why this might be a problem when it comes to certain topics such as climate change or vaccination?
  7. If you comment on stories online, do you keep the arguments on the facts and not resort to personal name-calling.
  8. Think of news outlets you trust. Why do you trust them? Can you think of examples where they’ve proven worthy (or not) of that trust?

Activities

Last month Catholic communicators gathered in Rome to discuss the need for more respectful dialogue in the public sphere.

For a practical example of respectful dialogue try debating. A formal debate involves two sides (of three people) – one side supporting a resolution (the affirmative) and one side opposing it (the negative). Decide on the topic and then debate in a specific order – first speaker on the affirmative; first speaker on the negative; second speaker on the affirmative then second speaker on the negative; third speaker on the affirmative and then third speaker on the negative. Each will speak 5-10 minutes, depending on the agreed rules. There may be a short break to prepare rebuttal speeches and then the first speakers get to speak for 3-5 minutes with the negative speaker going first. There cannot be any interruptions. The teacher, a chosen group or the rest of the class will then decide on the winner. In a formal debate there are rules about who can say what – for example, in the rebuttal speech no new points can be mentioned.

For younger students

Teachers read or summarise the article ‘Fake news’. Talk with the students about ways they can tell if things are true or come from a source they can trust.

To see how quickly messages can get garbled try the Whisper game (aka Chinese Whispers). Sit the students in a small circle – ideal numbers are 6-11, so split into two or more groups if the class is large. The object of the game is to pass on a message from one person to the other and see if it makes to the last person intact. Start the game by whispering as softly as possible a word or a phrase in the ear of the person next to you. The next person whispers whatever they’ve heard to the person next to them and the game continues until the last person receives the phrase. The phrase is only whispered once – do not ask for it to be repeated – just pass on what you think you heard but do not deliberately change the words. The fun begins when you compare the first phrase with the last. The phrase could be anything but some examples are: Bananas are better than biscuits; I’d love eating toasted cheese and tuna sandwiches; a pink pig and a pesky donkey flew a kite at night; or, rabbits rumble, giants grumble, dogs bark in the dark, and wolves woo in the blue.

Main image: A bird whispering in another's ear - flickr.com

 

Topic tags: valuesandmoraldecision-making, responsiblerelationships, buildingpeace

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