Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Importance of Telling Lies

A bit like Calvin, my Sociology class will believe anything. This directly contrasts my previous school where I once spent 20 minutes failing to convince a class that a tunnel runs under the sea between England and France. ("Yeah right miss, and I can walk to Bangladesh from our house too innit"). Given this, you might think that my sociology classes naivety is a good thing. Wrong.

Without a sense of scepticism they are unable to criticise or evaluate research. When presented with research that had 'scientifically proven' the lower IQ of black children in America my -- mostly black African group -- accepted this and dutifully wrote it in their books as fact. Single parenthood causes crime? "Okay, I see that" was their simplistic response. After all, some academic has said it so it must be true. Right? Still wrong.

So now I have a simple device. When presenting new information I tell students that I am going to slip in a number of lies. Sometimes I actually do it, sometimes I don't. But it gets them engaged, guessing and thinking critically. It means they listen more intently and read more carefully. And, hopefully, one day it will get them to question some of those terrible assumptions they so readily accepted earlier in the year.