Agriculture in the Classroom – Students tackle Fake News

The joy of using agriculture as an educational tool is it can be used to teach everything on the Australian curriculum (including critical thinking skills) and help young people get jobs

Critical thinking skills are one of the top four employability skills 21st century employers want most.

Our research shows that young people want to significantly increase their creative and critical thinking skills This includes determining the difference between what’s real and what is “Fake News”

Our research has been complemented by the fabulous work of our partner  Western Sydney University in their study of News and Young Australians

As this article in The Conversation highlights, we live in an age of fake news and Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy.

The challenge for teachers is how do we better prepare young people to effectively navigate the complex and nuanced landscape of modern news and social media.

We are excited to be part of a team helping teachers do this using fake news in agriculture as an example.

Part of what the students will find out is what is fake news in Australia is not necessarily fake news in other countries. This helps to reinforce the message that there is not a one size fits all solution to the challenges our farmers face to grow food and natural fibres on the hottest, driest inhabited continent

What does a Fake News lesson plan look like?

A quick summary of it might look something like this  

  • Teachers ask the question, “What is Fake News?’
  • Students discuss their ideas.
  • Class teachers can facilitate the discussion by making a brainstorm of their answers.
  • Younger students, play the ‘Get Bad News’ game to help them understand the process of creating fake news and the effect it has globally;
  • Older students play the ‘BBC iReporter’ game for older classes.
  • As a class, google the following:
    • Hormones in milk in Australia
    • Hormones in chicken

Teachers might then invite the students to break into groups for a wider discussion and share their learnings with the community via their Archibull Prize ( secondary schools) or Kreative Koalas ( primary schools) digital learning journal

The aim of each task is for the students to create and present a short presentation of their findings at the end of the lesson

Tasks could look like this

  • Group 1 – Look at fake news as a concept. What is it? How does it happen? Can they create a checklist to help other students to spot fake news?
  • Group 2 – Investigate what the media gains by spreading fake news. Present an explanation of their findings.
  • Group 3 – What’s a credible resource? What’s credible science? Students investigate these 2 headings and provide short explanations of both.

(Group 2 and 3 could also create visuals (such as a poster or comic strip) to accompany their work.

  • Group 4 – Invite the students to discuss the ethics around deceptive advertising and its consequences. Students can use the Consequence Wheel for this exercise

Some resources the teachers might use:

News and Young Australians

We live in an age of ‘fake news’. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy

Beyond fact-checking: 5 things schools should do to foster news literacy

The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

We look forward to sharing the students agricultural flavoured journey to detect biases and agendas in media and feel empowered to distinguish fact from fiction, be savvy consumers, and learn to advocate for public good?

And this very important feedback from a teacher. Another question agriculture can ask itself.

Is our succession plan and capacity to spark interest in careers in agriculture reaching young people where they are at

Author: Picture You in Agriculture

The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.

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