Thursday, November 17, 2005

SCORE History-Social Science Information Literacy

SCORE History-Social Science Information Literacy. This is a project from the Schools of California Online Resources for Education.

Peg Hill, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools wrote, "A major goal of SCORE History-Social Science is to provide a resource to build the information literacy of students so that they are more able to function as effective workers and citizens in an era when everyone is continuously bombarded by data. Information literacy helps people deal with this data glut by developing the ability to plan a resource-based project, think critically about data, research for needed information and create and present a new synthesis to others using technology. The following is a first draft identifying the skills that our students will need. These skills are closely related to the intellectual processes that teachers have long identified as the Domains of History-Social Science Thinking. I would appreciate your comment and feedback."

This looks like a good initiative. Teachers/librarians often discuss information literacy in the context of science (the best hoax sites are science themed) but the social sciences are an area where information literacy is crucial.

I wrote a guide to history sources on the Web last year. My introduction touches on this need for critical thinking. I wrote, "I have prepared this guide to help students find the best history resources on the Web. Unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage on the Web. Some of it is from people who have real biases on issues and they are trying to portray historical events in a skewed manner. Others simply write and post material which they sincerely believe to good history. The reality is that many of these people have no training in history and the end results of their efforts is misleading, wrong, or strange. I hope this guide simplifies the search process for history on the Web. Don't just type a search phrase into Yahoo! or Google and use what you find. Some of the worst sites do well in search engines and relying on them could seriously harm your grades! "

The need is still there. In the last several years I have found sincere but utterly incorrect "history" sites claiming that the Apollo Moon landings were faked, that the Holocaust never happened, that Cleopatra was black, that the Romans were the original European colonizers of North America, and that Texas and Hawaii are independent nations undergoing military occupation by the United States. And they all listed tons of "evidence" proving that those disagreeing with them were ignorant or biased.

The late Carl Sagan, in The Demon Haunted World, argued that students need to be taught how to use their baloney detecting skills. I agree and we need to do this when teaching history as well.

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