Fake News, Really...
Nourishing the body and mind...
When you go to a restaurant, you have an idea of what you are looking for in the way of quality and quantity. If you are going for a purely social and short experience, you may order an appetizer or dessert and a beverage. If you are very hungry, you may get all of the available courses. Any way you look at it, you chose a restaurant with a goal in mind. You entered and sat. You ordered according to your wants and needs at the time. Maybe you tried something new that peaked your interest in an item or a recipe. Chances are that you will try it again some day or seek out more information - maybe the recipe. My bf asked to meet a chef in Arizona because the dish was so unique and different that he wanted to know how to make it. Thankfully the chef shared her recipe and we still enjoy her potato and spinach enchiladas to this day.
Fake news is no different. Viewers tune in with an general idea of what they will get. They know the basic quality and quantity of information that is available. They tune in with the expectation of being entertained, not fully nourished. I'm certain that if a 'bit' sparks someone's curiosity, they are capable of learning more in this age of information. As far as education goes, fake news is a wonderful place to start. Looking a clips and figuring out why something is (or is supposed to be) funny is a powerful learning opportunity. Think of any joke that you "didn't get." Would more background knowledge allow you to more fully enjoy that laugh? Of course. Teach students that knowledge and learning can increase their enjoyment of life's experiences. That's one of the points of being a life long learner. Some of the funniest people I know are able to make jokes about a wide variety of topics. They understand the topics well enough to find the humor in them.
I'd be remiss if I didn't note that only eating dessert and greasy food will lead to an unhealthy body. In the same respect, only watching fake news is not the healthiest choice for the brain. In either case...something is still better than nothing.
Another point about using fake news in education...
If we do not teach students how to think critically about what the media presents, how will they learn to do this independently? Do you really think the media wants students to be able to debunk their claims? Do politicians want students to question the legitimacy of their statements and policy proposals? Who will teach them if teachers don't step up to the plate?
The Onion has some hysterical fake news clips. Stepping back to discuss why they are funny and from what back stories they sprung are excellent discussion topics. There are quite a few that I really like, but this is a stand-out clip.
I don't know with what age this clip could be 'safely' used, but it would be a great intro to gun control debates. Some schools and parents are more sensitive than others, and it would be important to 'know your audience.' Obviously it is slanted, but that would be part of the discussion.
Questioning versus Blind Acceptance
This relates to my earlier critical thinking comments. Fake news questions, pokes fun at, and points out inconsistencies in the mainstream news. The Colbert Report and Daily Show have a staff in charge of finding clips and drawing attention to matters that individuals with full time jobs may not notice otherwise. They are looking for clips to make a good piece within their show. In doing so, they are drawing attention to matters we, the viewers, may not have considered or noticed. Sure there are times that we will disagree. Good. We thought about it. Rather than being filled with whatever 'news' the mainstream media wants to fill our heads with, we need to stop and look at the whole process. If hindsight really is twenty twenty, then fake news shows allow us to look back at 30 second clips from the week and really think about them. The act of replaying some of these clips (even if no commentary were added) would provide a type of service to help views think things through. In a sound bite generation, the replay alone has value.