Good News/ Bad News, Who Cares?
- Africa, Asia, Central America and Mexico, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Pacific Islands, South America, The Caribbean, Benin
- Grades 6-8
- Cross-Cultural Understanding
- 40 minutes
Students will practice evaluating facts, bringing to bear their own experience, preferences, and international contexts.
To develop global perspectives, students need to form the habit of reflecting on the sources of their own opinions and reactions. This activity asks students to respond to a series of facts, analyze their reactions, and compare their responses. Students will also practice viewing factual information from multiple perspectives and work to develop awareness of the hidden biases in "factual" statements.
Students will recognize that there are many ways of interpreting a single piece of information.
- Almanacs and other reference materials
- Pencils and paper
- Distribute copies of the "Good News/Bad News/Who Cares?" (link above) activity sheet to students. Explain that the statements are based on accurate research and can be believed to be true.
- Instruct students to read each statement in the "Fact" column, then quickly note their response to each statement in one of the response columns. Is the statement good news, bad news, or just an uninteresting fact (Who Cares?)? For those statements interpreted as good news or bad news, students should jot a few words in the "Why?" column to explain their feelings.
- Once students have completed their charts, tally their responses to each statement. Is a variety of opinions represented? Or did students have similar responses to the same facts? What factors might account for this? Ask individual students to share the thinking behind their opinions. Discuss why some statements did not elicit strong opinions (e.g., some statements may not contain enough information to warrant an opinion, others may simply not provoke the interest of individual students).
- Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Ask students to review their individual charts. Each student will choose one statement about which he or she felt strongly and discuss the reasons for that opinion with other group members. Then the group should brainstorm a short list of people who may have reasons for forming the opposite opinion. For example, students are likely to feel strongly that a $2.61 hourly wage for Mexican workers is bad news because that amount is very low compared with what most U.S. workers earn. However, the information could be good news for a U.S. manufacturer who is looking for a less expensive way to make products. Check in with the small groups frequently as they work; students may need help to place isolated facts into a more complete picture.
- Ask a student spokesperson from each group to give some examples of the perspectives they considered and to summarize any difficulty the group had in imagining different points of view.
- Ask students to discuss how they felt when their opinions were challenged by other students. Did any students change their opinions during the activity?
- Revisit statement #7. Ask students if their reactions to this statement would change if it were phrased in a different, but equally true, way? For example, the statement would be equally true as "Almost 80 percent of the cars purchased in this country are made in the United States." Point out that even "facts" can be stated in ways that emphasize a particular perspective.
- Help students identify ways statements of fact can be checked for accuracy and bias. For example, the fact should be supported by multiple sources. We can develop the habit of looking "behind the curtain." In other words, who is issuing the statement? Does that person or organization have a biased perspective?
- Ask students to gather a list of facts from almanacs or other brief information sources about a Peace Corps host country and indicate whether those facts represent good news or bad news. This is a good opportunity to instruct students about the uses and limitations of various sources of information. For example, in most almanacs, infant mortality rates for a given country are reported for one year only. What at first glance appears to be a dire fact may actually be good news when statistics are compared over time.
- If the class is participating in the World Wise Schools match program, students can locate facts about their Peace Corps Volunteer's host country and ask the Volunteer to respond in good news/bad news fashion.