Are current issues and events included in your state’s content area standards? What about information skills? Recently, my son mentioned that his social studies teacher had failed to discuss the recent earthquake and devastation in Haiti, in class. You see, they’re studying American History this year, and I guess current events or Haiti don’t fall within the confines of the curriculum. When did social studies become all about history? What happened to the social part of social studies?
What’s in the news? How do I find out what people are talking about and dealing with? Are people’s lives and/or freedoms at stake? Is this issue really a nonissue, contrived by an individual or group for irrelevant reasons? How do I filter out the noise? How can I find out more about this issue or event in order to participate in intelligent dialog? How does this news story make me feel? Am I more interested in issues that affect me personally? Do I want to pursue this issue in a participatory manner? How can I connect in a more meaningful way? How do I let my voice be heard?
Real life information skills are vital. Developing a personal plan for further understanding and communication are necessary and empowering. Continual discussion about current issues and the lives affected by those issues inherently foster empathy, compassion and connection. Kids need to be included in the conversation; they need to be a part of something larger than themselves.
Just for fun take this Pew News IQ quiz, or better yet, have your students take a try and get the conversation started! http://pewresearch.org/politicalquiz/quiz/index.php