How to Navigate Misinformation
3rd-8th grade | High School | College
There’s a problem in the world that’s affecting every level of society…and that’s misinformation. It’s creating divides in politics, communities, and families. It’s not going away and few are prepared to deal with it.
I developed an immersive curriculum that gives students the tools to navigate this world of misinformation. This class takes students into the uncharted wilderness of misleading information and gives them the guidance to figure their own way out.
For the past 20 years, I have been researching a wide variety of extreme belief systems for patterns and principles that also hold true in less fanatical situations, such as how information bubbles and misinformation influence people. I feel this should be required learning for teenagers because they are vulnerable to emotionally exploitative content on the internet and social media, especially as they increase their independence from parents and teachers.
This curriculum is science-based, experiential, and develops critical thinking skills. I think you will find this relevant in preparing students for the world we now live in. Few courses in education today are addressing the vulnerabilities misinformation exploits.
Students will learn:
- How to sort through conflicting information.
- What does the process of navigating this information-landscape look like?
- How do you develop an awareness of your own emotional reactions to information that counters your previous understandings?
- How to interact with people whose belief systems are different.
- How do you connect with people whose perceptions of the world are vastly different from your own?
- How do you communicate effectively without escalating conflict?
- An understanding of why the world is this way.
- What is emotionally-driven learning and what does it mean to be vulnerable to it?
- Is misinformation a new problem in the world? What is the historical context?
My goal is to teach students how to thrive in an environment saturated with emotionally-biased information, as opposed to being manipulated by it.
The following is a summary of some lesson goals.
The difference between information and an information-landscape.
Introduction to the concept of an ‘information-landscape’: The first thing you often find when you start to answer any question on the internet is a surface-level preliminary assessment that sounds complete — only it’s not. This lesson demonstrates the value of navigating past this surface-level of information and sets the stage for future lessons on how to accomplish this.
Critical thinking skills – The curse of knowledge
The goal of this lesson is to experience that ‘knowing the correct answer’ and ‘believing wrong information’ feel the same. When you already know the correct answer to a question, the process of finding the correct answer looks deceptively easy. Our focus will be on practicing methods of scrutinizing conflicting information without knowing what is correct.
Media literacy skills – Pattern recognition in presentations of information
Recognizing trusted sources and developing pattern recognition in identifying misleading information will be a recurring theme. This lesson is the introduction to it and focuses on how we weigh information delivered with confidence vs. information delivered conscientiously.
Fear-driven vs curiosity-driven learning
What is the emotional context of the subject you are learning? This lesson focuses on learning to recognize the impact our emotions have, when they’re being manipulated, and how to be mindful of them.
The predictive mind model and deep emotional learning
This lesson includes activities that demonstrate how our brains interpret reality to create beliefs. The purpose of these activities are to make this normally invisible process visible. Our emphasis will be on seeing how we are susceptible to believing misrepresentations. This lays the foundation for having empathy for those with opposing viewpoints and, ultimately, how to communicate with them.
Misinformation vs disinformation
This lesson is about the difference between those who intentionally alter the truth and promote lies versus those who unintentionally pass along misinformation because they sincerely believe in it. The emphasis here is on identifying and analyzing the motives of different sources.
Misinformation on social media – Sharing experiences vs beliefs
In this lesson, we explore the difference between external reality and internal beliefs. We will learn how easily they are conflated and why it’s important to distinguish between them. The activities will include practice assessing examples of social media posts and feeds.
If you want more information about having this curriculum in your classroom, please reach out.