Schools in the northeast are teaching students how to recognize “fake news.”
Elementary school teachers and college professors have added sections on recognizing fake news in their civics courses, reports the Associated Press.
“I think only education can solve this problem,” Pat Winters Lauro, a Kean University professor, said. Lauro launched a course on “news literacy” for the spring semester.
As part of the classes, teachers give their students various tips on how to figure out when news is fake or legitimate. Teachers ask their students “Does it [the story] make you mad?” If it does, the tips suggest, then it might be fake.
“Does it make you mad? False reports often target emotions with claims of outlandish spending or unpatriotic words or deeds. If common sense tells you it can’t be true, it may not be,” the tip says.
The lessons also suggest looking at websites that claim to be fact-checkers, like Snopes and FactCheck.org, to see what those outlets are reporting. Students are also told to be wary of satire and to check the URL to ensure the site is valid.
“How is the writing? Caps lock and multiple exclamation points don’t have a place in most real newsrooms,” another tip says.
A high school government teacher included fake news as a topic in her usual lessons on presidential debates and fact-checking websites.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about how much it’s affecting people and swaying their opinions,” Buffalo-area student Hannah Mercer said.
Lauro said that teaching the material has been difficult because of how politically divided her classroom is.
“It hasn’t been a difficult topic to teach in terms of material because there’s so much going on out there,” Lauro said. “But it’s difficult in terms of politics because we have such a divided country and the students are divided, too, on their beliefs.”