I’m bringing back my old “Need Feed” category where I explained why we need information literacy in our schools. A colleague of mine posted this TED Talk by Zoe Weil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5HEV96dIuY
The talk is amazing and worth the time to watch, but briefly – she is a teacher of humanities who has her students research the positive and negative effects of objects (a t-shirt, a hamburger, a bottle of water, etc.) on ourselves, our local communities, and the world at large. From looking at the pesticides that covered the cotton crops gfrown to made the t-shirt, to the labor conditions of the people who manufactured it, her students get a larger picture of the effects of the choices we make in purchasing every day. Being able to find the at times well-hidden information behind the objects we take for granted is an essential skill if we are to be informed, responsible consumers who make decisions that are in line with our personal values and integrity.
One of her compelling arguments is to change our tradition of “debate” into “solution” teams. Rather than arguing an either/or question (her example from an NPR story: “Is the U.S. responsible for Mexico’s Drug Woes?”) and debating it in order to win the argument – why not have them research and invent the best solution to the problem? This way, they would compete for the best solution rather than the best argument.
I have always loved our tradition of debate because of the discussion it engenders, but I agree with Ms. Weil that this is but one step – the ability to perceive and create a solution is the real skill that the world needs.
And for this, we need to teach our students a strong background in information literacy. This is how they will become the “Solutionaries” that Ms. Weil speaks of.