It’s all about critical thinking

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

On this post, I will be reflecting on misinformation. As I went through the readings, I started to connect them to ‘Fake news’, ‘Critical thinking’ and the ATL skills. As you can see, most of these concepts belong to the IB program, but I should also connect them to the subject TOK. But, what is critical thinking? To me, critical thinking is a questioning exercise of ideas and thoughts. It’s the ability to evaluate ideas and subjects, trust on the sources and believe. Also, understand that each human being has a particularly unique way to see the world and understand knowledge. As mention by Edward Glaser; “The ability to think critically, as conceived in this volume, involves three things: ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one’s experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one’s patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life. “

This is a video from the IBO:

by International Baccalaureate on Vimeo.

Becoming a thinker and develop critical thinking skills are some of the goals of the IB Programme and it’s also part of the journey of the inquiry-based learning experience.

Our role as librarians

According to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA):

“Critical thinking is a key skill in media and information literacy, and the mission of libraries is to educate and advocate its importance.”

We are leaving in an era in which information is surrounding us 24/7. We are consuming and creating information all the time. But, are you believing in everything that you read? I can still remember like 13 years back, my cousin shared on Facebook some information about a singer (accidentally death). I felt sad but share it again with my friends on Facebook. Just in 10 minutes, it went viral but somebody replied telling us that it was a hoax. It made me wonder about how I believed on the news just because it was my cousin who shared it. I didn’t doubt for a minute and just share it. When I check the source, it was ‘fake news’.

As librarians, in collaboration with teachers, we introduce information and media literacy (k-12) as central skills of this digital age. We go from the basics of identifying the creator of information (ownership = author) to looks for a different perspective, finding out different types of sources, verifying and, acknowledging them. It’s a challenge but educates teachers and students is fundamental to survival.

On Creative Commons License by IFLA.

In 2016, IFLA published this infographic to help us identify fake information. It’s available in more than 40 languages and you are free to download and share it in your school, city or country. Let’s spread the word! This infographic was inspired by an article published on ‘How to spot fake news’ by Eugene Kiely and Lori Robertson.

I display this infographic inside of the library, labs, classrooms (if teachers agree), corridors, boards. I conduct workshops related to academic honesty for students and teachers. It’s a long journey of discussions and meetings with teachers because they need to believe in it. Without their cooperation, this task will prove to be harder than expected.

As the school has PYP and Diploma, they are two moments in which we reinforced all these skills: the PYP exhibition and the Extended Essay. Alongside the research process of the PYP exhibition, I advise students about how to look for trustable sources, different points of view for one topic and how to acknowledge sources. On the other hand, when we discuss with Diploma students about their EE, we strengthen the subject of sources. Students tend to go first to Google instead of online databases. It’s important to guide them about the use of different sources of information and identify possible misinformation before assuming it’s the truth.

When I was reading ‘Authentic information’ by Media Smart, I couldn’t agree more about the challenge of verifying online news. As mentioned by Silverman Craig “But news stories are one of the hardest things to verify: sometimes early reports that turn out not to be true still circulate on social media and people may spread false report for political or commercial reasons, or just for fun”.

As an advice: Before post, be sure it’s accurate and up-to-date.

Simple tips:

  1. Check out the origin of the source: Don’t just believe because it was shared by many people or is trending on social media. Sources should be accurate as hoaxers can manipulate information and spread it. A trustable source will avoid bias, separate opinion from news and acknowledge gaps or correct mistakes.
  2. Double-check photos and videos: the most common kind of misinformation happen when big news stories are going on. Use webs like Tineye to verify them.
  3. Think before you share: Before sharing on social media, ask yourself: Could someone base an important decision on this? Is it about a hot or controversial issue? Does it look too good to be true? Could people do things they might regret based on this? Could bad things happen because people thought it was true and it wasn’t?

Finally, I would like to share this graphic Think before you post by Butler University

OnThe Butler Connection by Butler University

It gives a synopsis on how to encourage students reflection before posting on social media. How are you promoting reflection in your school?

One thought on “It’s all about critical thinking

  1. These are some great tips to help our students gain the skills needed to navigate the online world. Our school has decided to join forces with Common Sense media and use their curriculum and resources to really explicitly teach and address digital citizenship in all aspects of the school. I think it’s admirable that you are using your position in the library to promote these ideas and I hope that the classroom and subject teachers are reinforcing it in their classrooms too!

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