After class last Friday I rethought how I might use Mayor Bloomberg's proposed soda ban as a basis for a lesson. Originally, my idea was to have the students do a pseudo 60 Minutes piece on the ban, using multiple characters and perspectives to make the video well-rounded, informational, and enlightening.
But after working in a group, during which time we all contributed information and ideas, my lesson plan has been considerably fleshed out. Seriously, it's almost like a real boy now (See Pinocchio).
We decided we wanted the students to examine bias. We would assign them a character, someone who would actually be affected by the soda ban, and they would be required to do research and write an opinion editorial. This Op Ed would be completely biased in their character's favor. The students would be required to misconstrue the facts from their research in order to "support" their opinions.
After finishing their Op Ed, they would present their findings to the class. Then, as a class, we would discuss bias and propaganda and how it can be used to skew the facts. We would then show them famous examples of propaganda in history, such as the famous video the Nazis created doing WWII which depicted Jews as rats as a way to establish racial bias and hatred.
When we are finished looking at these examples we will then discuss the far-reaching effects of bias. How can bias change an idea, a people, a nation?
The main point of the lesson will be to encourage the students to question everything.
As consumers of information our students must become filters, not sponges (thank you Stephen Chbosky). They must examine and question all they see. Even if all includes what their parents, teachers, friends, and religions say.
This point, and this lesson, is so much more involved, much more important and far-reaching than the lesson I originally planned. I realize, after this experience, the importance of collaboration. I understand how helpful it be can to see things from other perspectives.
I too should question my own motives, my own lessons, my own ideas in order to make my teaching as effective as possible.