Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This is just funny...

I wonder if the Straits Times has come up with a new-fangled definition of "Critical Thinking" that we haven't quite grasped yet in school. Here I was, deluded into thinking that critical thinking meant thinking for yourself instead of depending on others to form an opinion. And our newspaper has stepped up to "help" us think critically?

What has our local broadsheet been aside from the government bitch mouthpiece for for the all-knowing pharisees from on high? (Clad in white to preserve their purity) Have they given us any hope for critical thinking? Or maybe we are meant to teach critical thinking by questioning the credibility of a media source that is meant to deceive "we the people", to keep us thinking that everything is as it should be when it is not? I'd prefer the second option, which makes the Straits Times' claim that newspapers are the means of teaching critical thinking kind of a paradox.

Sep 1, 2008
Newspaper way to boost critical thinking
By Malini Nathan
A GROUP of 189 primary and secondary school teachers attended a Straits Times (ST) forum on media literacy and how to use newspapers as learning tools on Saturday.

Then, as a treat for Teachers' Day today, and as a gesture of appreciation for their continued use of the newspaper in the classroom, they were given a ride on the Singapore Flyer.

The forum, held on the Flyer's premises, was the fourth ST has held for teachers. Copies of the paper going out to primary schools subscribing to it are bundled with Little Red Dot on Tuesdays, while those for secondary schools are packaged with IN on Mondays.

Forum participant Chee Bee Phaik of Loyang Secondary School said: 'The forum was very helpful and I learnt a lot about critical thinking.'

Panellist Soo Kim Bee of the Education Ministry's Gifted Education Branch said Little Red Dot and IN sharpen students' critical thinking and creativity. She also urged teachers to develop a newspaper-reading habit among their charges.

In the forum for primary school teachers, three teachers - Da Qiao Primary's Ms Ng Sai Choo, and East View Primary's Madam Kamalnoorzaman Osman and Mrs Monica Berger - discussed how they used Little Red Dot in English lessons.

Ms Ng showed how her pupils used the newspaper for writing reflections and role-playing; Madam Kamalnoorzaman showed how issues raised in the news could be used in problem-based learning.

At the session for secondary school teachers, IN journalist and former teacher Lim Pow Hong said newspapers could be used to teach media literacy and to raise awareness of current affairs.

ST's associate editor Bertha Henson said that with such skills, 'students can discern the 'con job' from real content on the various media platforms they go to, especially now that they are bombarded with information and views from all directions'.


I find the last line particularly hilarious.

On other news, the discrediting of the Internet has taken a new turn...I don't really know what to make of this one except that while I see the attack on the internet as a source of information somewhat disconcerting, I also agree that youths today are the morons that are portrayed in this particular article.

Octopi in trees(!) Next kids will be believing that ministerial pay increases are totally justified in today's economic climate....waitaminute.

Nah...

Sep 1, 2008
Teen surfers prey to 'Web of deception'
Over-reliance on Net has students floundering in media literacy test
By Lim Pow Hong
A CERTAIN species of octopus in the Pacific north-west lives in a tree.

Sounds ridiculous?

Well, 34 out of 35 Singapore students who read the bogus website http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ believed such a creature actually exists.

The students, aged 13 to 19, were unable to distinguish fact from fiction in a Straits Times test of media literacy among youth.

The spoof site, set up as an online hoax in 1998 but now used by institutions to test Internet literacy, fooled nearly all the 35 local students into thinking the tree octopus story was 'well-supported by scientific research' and 'factual'.

The website yielded similar results among youngsters in Connecticut, in the United States, when it was used by University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education to test levels of online literacy.

There, all the 25 seventh-graders - 12 to 13 years old - tested in one study rated the website as 'very credible'.

An over-reliance on the Internet as a source of information could explain why teens are weak at judging whether information is trustworthy.

The ST survey found that half of the teens tested were fooled by the expert opinions cited on the site and 15 were taken in by the factual way in which information on the site was written.

Commenting on these findings, SIM University's Dr Brian Lee highlighted that it takes experience to tell when scientific research is fake as 'even adults get taken in by Internet scams supported by fake scientific findings'.

Dr Lee, who has spent more than 10 years studying Internet usage and popular culture, said: 'Students are conditioned to rely on the Internet as schools encourage them to use it in their schoolwork.'

In fact, he has noticed that even among tertiary students, between 80 and 90 per cent of them would cite Wikipedia as a source in their reports. However, most older students use other sources to back up information from Wikipedia.

It seems that those who are younger lack the skills to differentiate fact from fiction. Sarah Sim, 15, a Secondary 3 student at St Nicholas Girls' School, was convinced by the 'facts and pictures' posted on the site and the scientific name the octopus had.

'The website is very professionally done with good pictures and facts and the language used is formal. That's why I believed it,' she said.

It was the same for Jurong Secondary's Bryan Lee, 15. 'The physical description of the octopus is very real and I can't tell it's fake because of the photos.'

Teens also tend to rely too heavily on group-think when it comes to assessing credibility, going with the majority to determine a site's trustworthiness.

Dr Lee said: 'If friends endorse the information, it is likely that teens will believe it too.'

But all is not lost for these teens as he believes they will become more media literate when they mature. Students will learn how to critically evaluate information when they enter tertiary institutions as they have to learn these skills to write their research papers.

However, for parents, it is a matter of concern now. Madam Lim Geok Choo, 50, and a mother of two, worries about her 11-year-old son. 'He just takes everything he reads on the Internet as correct and real. There's no filtering of information and it can get worrying for parents.'

For students to become more media literate, Dr Lee advocates media literacy education from a young age, beginning as early as primary school or before they start using the Internet.

'Students should also learn to double- check information by asking their parents and teachers,' he said. 'When they read things on the Internet that make them uncomfortable, they should check with someone they know.'

Another way is to verify information with other sources, such as the print media, which is more credible as the editing process is more rigorous.

The only teen who was not fooled by the octopus was tipped off by the suspicious hyperlinks on the site.

Bernice Leong, 15, doubted the octopus existed when she realised the hyperlinks were leading her to sites featuring unsubstantiated creatures like Bigfoot.

The Secondary 4 student from Chung Cheng High said: 'I read widely online and I have never come across this particular animal before. It really made me question the existence of this creature.'

phlim@sph.com.sg

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHHAHA. 'it really made me question the existence of this creature'.... what's the younger generation coming to?

Tue Sep 02, 01:40:00 pm 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam
http://forums.delphiforums.com/sunkopitiam/messages/

Tue Sep 02, 08:47:00 pm 2008  
Anonymous feedmetothefish said...

Hilarious indeed!

Critical thinking or brainwashing?

feedmetothefish

Tue Sep 02, 10:07:00 pm 2008  

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