Blogging this for future reference. I’ll be teaching a news writing course in the fall, and one of the most challenging units involves getting students to think critically about statistical claims made by advocates of a particular issue.
After reading The Tempest and reading a student’s paper about Gulliver’s Travels, I’m thinking about creating a unit that involves students writing reports about interviews with people from fictional countries. There might be a society that promotes free file-sharing and has a legal drinking age of 17, but where women can’t vote. There might be glossy tourist brochures that offer one view of the country, but refugees and people from minority groups would offer a strikingly different view of the country. (And some of those minority views would be wildly inaccurate.)
The idea would be to get students to practice reporting about a complex subject where following the truth wherever it may lead is more intellecutually complex than getting the right answer on a multiple choice question. I want to force them out of the habit of doing what they’ve been rewarded for in high school — stating their personal reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with a prompt.