Typing in “Schools should” into Google UK this morning leads with the top story from the BBC that Schools should teach pupils how to spot ‘fake news’. Beyond that, schools should be like Dragon’s Den, Schools should be doing more to prepare young people for the world, the bewildering Schools should teach children how to brush their teeth and schools should teach all pupils ‘digital citizenship’.
Putting aside the ease with which various organisations (think tanks, the OECD, university vice-chancellors and others) feel free to assign work to schools. Academy schools and Independent schools in the UK do not follow the National Curriculum and simple have to offer a broad an balanced curriculum including the core subjects of mathematics and English. This means that many state schools (Over 50% of secondary schools in the UK are academies) do not even have a requirement to teach vital subjects like computing, let alone various activities that the media report should be taught.
Teachers might listen to the news reports this week imploring them to teach students how to recognise fake news, yet this is the time of year where teachers are particularly busy preparing students for exams. Some teachers aim to run sessions with tutor groups, but in running a discussion class may face misinformation from their own class members; further spreading fake news.
The broad answer has always been schools and particularly individual teachers try their best to give students a rounded education. However teachers are sometimes put under pressure to teach students about various topics, sometimes encouraged by grieving parents but lacking the oversight of any body considering what topics are the most important or how the material is best delivered.
We do know that fake news is becoming an issue in the media, if only as a buzz word. In the same way that a student might call a variety of actions hacking in a computing lesson (with little understanding of the meaning of the term), students can become lost in the way that they process media and understand the world around them.
OFCOM report on the way that children consume media, and the move away from traditional media is an important one that students need to develop their critical understanding to be able to make value judgements around the content they consume.
To help teachers and students, there are resources available. From a simple poster, to an assembly or a full lesson there are materials available that help teachers to grasp the topics and deliver quality material to their students.