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Here’s how our kids can learn how to spot fake news

Reading tougher books can help our kids become informed citizens in future. Source: Pexels

Answer: Read tough books

Making kids read challenging literature could be key to building a more informed society, a new research from the UK has found.

Keith Topping, a Professor of Education and Social Research at the University of Dundee surveyed nearly one million students from 4,364 schools in the UK.

Though collectively they read more than 18 million books from 2016 to 2017, Topping found secondary school students aren’t reading challenging books enough.This could spell trouble for their comprehension levels, he warned.

The problem starts in secondary school. Unlike in primary school, where Topping found kids were reading materials that really challenge them, secondary school students continue reading books read by their juniors in upper primary.

Topping’s data also showed that despite certain books being difficult to read, students show they are still capable of understanding them.

Topping wrote in The Conversation:

“Motivation is the most obvious factor here – if you like the book, you try hard to really understand it.”

It’s a worthy endeavour, he continued, because as these students grow to be young adults, having a high level of comprehension makes them more likely to be more informed as a citizen.

“If readers could manage the easiest book in the table above, they would be able to understand what’s written in The Sun. But it’s only when readers can manage the hardest books that they are able to read and understand The Economist.”

It’s hard to see how we could lose from trying this out in schools, considering research showing how students are failing miserably spotting fake news from reliable sources.

A Stanford study in 2016 on middle school, high school and college students in 12 US states found that students had “stunning and dismaying consistency” in evaluating information, even basic ones such as distinguishing advertisements from articles.

Hopefully, by reading tougher books, we could build a society better at spotting fake news, especially this one about Parkland shooting survivor-turned-activists being “exposed” as “crisis actors”.

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