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Schools 'should teach children how to recognise fake news'

24/03/2017 Joanna

Schools are ideally placed to help children to recognise potentially fake news online, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Speaking ahead of the annual Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, the OECD's director of education and skills said schools have an important role to play in equipping their pupils with the cognitive capabilities they need to tell separate facts from deliberately misleading propaganda.

The concept of fake news has become a global issue in recent months, with the advent of social media making it easier than ever for a false story to be propagated worldwide without any fact-checking.

According to the expert, this needs to be addressed by building skills to help discern the truth into all lessons, from science to history, rather than treating this as a separate issue.

Mr Schleicher said: "Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is a critical skill today. Exposing fake news, even being aware that there is something like fake news - that there is something that is written that is not necessarily true, that you have to question, think critically - that is very important. This is something that we believe schools can do something about."

He also noted that the "echo-chamber" effect of social media, in which users can cultivate a space in which they only ever encounter opinions that corroborate their existing mindset, can be potentially dangerous for the development of children's critical faculties and their ability to find common ground with people of different mindsets.

The OECD is currently planning to launch new tests to evaluate young people's attitudes to global issues and different cultures, as well as their analytical and critical skills and abilities to interact with others.

These computer-based "global competencies" tests will be taken by 15-year-olds around the world every three years starting in 2018, with results to be published the following year.

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