Fighting misinformation in the classroom: Palmer High teacher tackles media literacy


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — In Paul Blakesley’s social studies class, history and media literacy collide.

“I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about what I believe, what I find important, how do I get this information, who do I listen to, what do I read “Blakesley said.

Blakesley taught at Palmer High School for ten years. He tackled discussions with his students on how to identify reliable sources and his efforts intensified with the 2018 midterm elections.

His lessons were recently featured in a New York Times article.

“How do I form my political opinions and what information goes into that? All of these things, they are important even for a 14 or 15 year old because soon they will be voting and they will have the power to represent us in government” , Blakesley said.

Students today have several social media platforms at their fingertips. Ella Gustafson, a junior in one of Blakesley’s classes, explained which sites she frequents.

“I’m on Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram,” Gustafson said.

A recent study shows that one in five TikTok videos contain misinformation on political topics.

“If you’re thinking in terms of history or if you’re going to write a history article, like my juniors and seniors do, you need to find a lot of sources that are quality sources. Students and adults realize that when it comes to writing What they don’t realize whether you’re talking about students or adults is that you have to do the same kinds of things when browsing your social media feed online Blakesley said.

A reminder for Gustafson and his classmates to keep asking these questions.

“This course definitely made me think more critically about the news I consume and what it tries to make us think and whether we really should believe it or not,” Gustafson said.

Colorado has taken steps to teach media literacy. In 2021, Governor Polis signed a bill requiring the Department of Education to create and maintain an online resource bank containing media literacy materials.

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