Disinformation, Misinformation, and Dinosaur Facts | Harbord & Khan | 4 Min Read

January 19, 2023

Deep fakes and fake news are old news. Content about world events is taken more seriously than content that entertains us. Can we deem popular culture and entertainment that misleads us as harmless? Do some young people separate the creative storylines in music or social media, e.g. memes, etc., and confuse these with reality so they become real to the audience, and blur the line between reality and fantasy? We suspend our belief when it comes to entertainment, but often in movies, villains and heroes are still cast as insidious stereotypes. Does entertainment not need to worry about ethical responsibility because it is make-believe? Does being misinformed about unimportant facts matter or not?

One example of people being misinformed about facts, possibly exacerbated by movies, relates to popular ideas about how dinosaurs looked, moved, and acted. What do you think of when you think of dinosaurs? Most people would imagine that dinosaurs are reptiles and look like something out of Jurassic Park. However American paleontologist Jack Horner says that dinosaurs were probably vividly colored, danced, and sang, and were more like birds than reptiles. You can argue that films are just entertainment and that dinosaurs are irrelevant to our world today, but what happens when we are misinformed about a person, whole communities, countries, and the rest of the world? 

As educators, we need to ensure that our students have been taught effective research skills so they have the ability to fact-check and trace their references to see if they are reliable sources. Do they know what constitutes a reliable source of information? We can guide students in checking their sources and information. Your school might use the following Common Core ELA or ISTE Student standards for example: 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

ISTE Student Standards 

1.3b Knowledge Constructor: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.

How can we bring the standards to life and show their relevance to learning? We have found it useful to share the standards with students and to work on strategies collaboratively with our students, which results in an authentic learner experience.

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Harbord and Khan

Meredith Harbord EdD and Sara Riaz Khan are global educators who use ethical dilemmas to enrich and transform curriculum. Their student centric approach is driven by an ethical model and innovative tools that support critical thinking and creativity. Meredith and Sara’s collaboration as Design teachers at ABA Oman International School in Muscat, focused on sustainability, ethical design and global mindedness and inspired them to establish Harbord & Khan Educational Consultants. They develop units of work based on real world issues to engage and challenge students for diverse curriculums (IB, PBL, Common Core and Australian) and are available for professional development and to create programs to meet the specific needs of your school. Meredith and Sara have authored two teacher curriculum books ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 1, 2 & 3’ and ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 4 & 5’ (2020). Website: https://bit.ly/3XopEzQ