Knowing what’s true and what isn’t, what’s opinion and what’s fact are important aspects of intellectual freedom. Fake news is not true and we and our students need to know how to #FactCheckit.
Sunday, April 2, is the first International Fact-Checking Day, a day to point out and celebrate that FACTS MATTER. Dozens of fact-checkers from around the globe have gotten together with the Poynter Institute (and NCTE) to develop a lesson plan for students grades 6 and up , along with fun activities like a Trivia Quiz and a Hoax-Off.
One example of the importance of the need to check the facts is the reaction of some to the book Jacob’s New Dress, which was removed from a first grade curriculum in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
“The book, which is about a boy who gets teased by classmates after electing to dress “like a girl” at school one day, sounds like it would’ve been a great addition to an anti-bullying program for 7-year-old kids. Unfortunately, angry teachers and conservative groups have ensured that message won’t be disseminated to young students.”
Teachers, parents, lawmakers and others complained and the authors, Sarah and Ian Hoffman, “have been forced to clarify that reading a book can’t ‘turn someone gay.’” [fact-checking italics mine]
On Facebook NCTE member Jessica Lifshitz stated these wishes and facts:
“I wish we could have heard from the children reading this book. Every time I have read it with students, the students walk away with an increased understanding of the human beings they share this world with. They are not scarred. They are not harmed. They grow. They learn. They develop empathy. Asking at what age students should encounter books about trans and non binary youth is a dangerous question to ask. It is insulting. If you are a transgender or non binary youth or human should young children not be introduced to you either? These books. They give kids a chance to better understand people in this world, often times before they’ve met a transgender or non binary person. It gives them a chance to gain the necessary empathy to then treat others with kindness and respect.”