Education Week has an interesting article up in its blog section about “When Teaching Media Literacy, Which News Sources Are Credible? Even Teachers Don’t Agree.”
The full article is well worth a read, but to quickly summarize, the article points to a recent report showing, “Secondary social studies teachers differ in which specific news sources they tend to find credible—and even how they define the concept of news credibility.”
Not surprisingly, how a teacher characterizes his or her alignment from conservative to liberal tends to influence which news sources that teacher finds more credible. Equally interesting, conservatives tended to have less trust in news services in general than liberals.
And, that impacts what that teacher’s students are taught, too.
The article stresses that it isn’t that teachers purposefully try to provide biased information; it’s more just a fact of human life that biases will creep into their instruction. As the article puts it, “Teachers, like everyone else, are human.”
One interesting point: students need more instruction in how fact checkers work. That sounds like some serious higher order thinking, something many believe is in far to short supply in our school systems today.
While the article only talks about teacher biases concerning news sources, I suspect this problem of teacher bias impacts social studies in more general ways. Certainly, the recently revised Kentucky Academic Standards for Social Studies raise some really serious concerns about what the authors of that document felt were the most important parts of social studies. When social studies standards for Kentucky’s public schools omit a huge amount of content information – even things like the fact that Kentucky’s noted son Abraham Lincoln was born here – it looks like our students might be getting short-changed on a lot more than just instruction about how to spot fake news.