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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News

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Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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10. Teach from Our Feet and Not Our Knees: Ethics and Critical Pedagogy

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JEANEEN CANFIELD

I approached my first Advanced Composition class with great anticipation, imagining deep conversations, sophisticated writing, and meaningful discussions. Indeed, these characterized students’ interactions, but surprisingly, many students were not eager to conduct an in-depth, critical interrogation assignment that would help them become critically aware of the information they were consuming. They seemed to deem information credible if it was published and accessible in any form on the web, and they seemed to approach information solely from their personal biases. This concerned me, particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. When writing instructors accept Bazerman’s 2016 premise that “people contend for the control of those ideas” (p. vii) shaping and forming societies, we are able to examine those communicative practices that polarize people and subdue democratic debate. Since Henderson and Braun (2016) bring attention to the important task writing instructors have to strengthen “deliberative democracy” (p. 5) in response to the impact of manipulative propaganda, I decided my students’ hesitation toward critical interrogation was worth investigating.

My institution is an R1, state-funded, 4-year university in the South-Central region. In the second four weeks of this course, I designed a unit to foster students’ growth in research and critical interrogation of news reports and to promote productive critique of information. Students first selected a current, politically-debated issue and one news source. Conducting research into archived issues, they examined, analyzed, and evaluated how that source reported on the issue. Learning outcomes for the...

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