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Civics, the Internet… and Hunting for Truth

by Bill of Rights Institute on

By Melody Lucas

Teaching civics has always been exciting – but today it might be more important than ever.  

Young people are constantly bombarded with messages from social media and other sources. Living in the Information Age means that our students have an abundance of information at their fingertips, but sometimes more is not better.  

Wading through a sea of infinite information is difficult for many young people. They often struggle with determining the validity of sources as well as the difference between opinion and fact.  

Younger students often believe that anything found on the Internet must be true. By using current events in our classrooms as well as teaching about valid sources, we can model how to navigate information that is out there and utilize it to see multiple viewpoints. 

Students struggle and need guidance when it comes to handling opposing viewpoints. With freedom of speech and expression being cornerstones of American democracy, teachers have to teach students how to debate and discuss controversial topics in courteous ways.  

Current events are great discussion starters and help students understand civics better. I love to engage my students using strategies such as philosophical chairs, where they learn to both respectfully listen to others as well as express their own opinions and ideas during debates.  

As the teacher, it is important to remain neutral so that students are able to formulate their own thoughts and opinions.  Students need to see that when it comes to controversial topics, both sides can safely express their own ideas.  

Melody Lucas is a civics and history teacher at Fort Settlement Middle School in Sugar Land, TX.