Yes, journalists should be open to many truths, but not every fact has “another side.” Some things are factually accurate and true and even if somebody thinks differently it does not make their thought equal to the facts. Here is an essay about the perils of “false balance” that journalists sometimes fall into in an effort to appear to be fair.
Every year at TEACHAPALOOZA educators share stories about how they are trying to find ways to get students thinking more critically about the information they hear and read. Here is a great case study.
The University of Maryland released a study that suggests a particular brand of chocolate milk may help young athletes who suffered concussions to recover. The questions arise whether the study makes any scientific, let alone logical sense. Then we learn that the milk company helped pay for the study.
Here are strategies to help you get every class off on the right foot:
Open with a question or two.
What did we learn last time?
Asking students to tell you what they already know (or think they know) has two important benefits. First, it lights up the parts of their brains that connect to your course material, so when they encounter new material, they will process it in a richer knowledge context. Second, it lets you know what preconceptions students have about your course material. That way, your lecture, discussion, or whatever you plan for class that day can specifically deal with and improve upon the knowledge actually in the room, rather than the knowledge you imagine to be in the room.
Reactivate what they learned in previous courses.
Write it down.
Frequent, low-stakes writing assignments constitute one of the best methods you can use to solicit engagement and thinking in class. You don’t have to grade the responses very carefully — or at all. Count them for participation, or make them worth a tiny fraction of a student’s grade. If you don’t want to collect the papers, have students write in their notebooks or on laptops and walk around the classroom just to keep everyone honest and ensure they are doing the work. Limit writing time to three to five minutes and ask everyone to write until you call time — at which point discussion begins.
During TEACHAPALOOZA 2015 we heard predictions that crowdfunding for journalism would rise. It has.
In the first nine months of 2015, crowdfunding projects devoted to journalism raised more than $1.74 million on Kickstarter, according to the report. That’s up from $49,256 in 2009, the year Kickstarter launched. The amount of crowdfunding projects has also increased, growing from 17 to 173 projects over that same period.
Likewise, the contributor base to journalism projects on Kickstarter has also expanded, increasing to 25,651 people in 2015 from an initial 792 people in 2009.
Increasingly your students will not be working for traditional newsrooms. They will go to startups, they will work as freelancers and they will change jobs-a lot. Some journalism schools are requiring students to study the business of journalism, not just the craft of journalism. Our visiting TEACHAPALOOZA faculty Deb Wenger writes about this trend in EdShift.