Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hoax Site Research Results

A quick update on my "cloning research" assignment. Out of 60 students only 4 gave a clear indication that they did not believe that this site was real. The last question that students had to answer in a Google form was:

"Would you trust this company if you wanted to purchase a clone? Explain"

Many students said, "No" but they did not want a clone for various reasons such as fear, not wanting one, or even ethical or religious reasons.

So the next day I congratulated the students who figured it out and told the rest of the class that they had been tricked. We then had a short discussion about how they should trust no one including the internet, TV, newspapers, textbooks, and teachers. I told them that they should question and doubt everything until proven.

My hope is that it was be a memorable lesson for them.


  1. I'm not sure I get this lesson.

    What constitutes proving something? I mean, if my kids ask where Iraq is and I show it to them on the pull-down map in my classroom, why should they doubt that? And if they do, how do they go about proving it? If I pull up Google Earth, that's on the Internet, so they can't trust that. If I show them Iraq in their textbook, they can't trust that? You actually said they should trust "no one", so I'm really lost as to how they go about "proving" anything.

    I feel like I'm missing something obvious here, which happens fairly often, so please bare with me.


  2. Russ,

    Maybe I am extreme in my language by saying "trust no one." I just see that the majority of students trust everyone and every source and accept whatever comes their way and never question authenticity. They believe whatever the news, the internet, or their teacher says without evaluating content.

    We all accept certain "facts" such as simple things such as maps and countries. But many times even these things have errors and deeper levels. I still remember the first time I saw a Peter's Map and could not believe that the maps I had seen all my life were that inaccurate.

    What I am really hoping for is a skeptical filtering of information where they actually think about whether something is true or whether there are other possibilities. I am thinking of Euripedes quote: "Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing." I am looking for critical thinking from them and my approach was to trick them to prove to them that they seldom think critically.

    How they "prove" something is an excellent question that I should bring up in class and see what they think. It really is about research skills and evaluating sources. Two areas that I think my students also need to develop better skills. A great question is what kinds of sources are more reliable and what makes them more reliable.

    Thanks for pushing my thinking on this as it now feels like I have only taught them half of the lesson.

  3. I'm right there with you on questioning, I just wanted to express my feelings on taking it to the "doubt everything" level.

    I appreciate your response. I was really looking forward to it, as I knew it would be very thoughtful. I was not disappointed.

    Looking forward to hear about the second half of the lesson.

    Go Twins!