Some of the most powerful content that can grab audiences — students and regular folk alike — is content that makes us question what we know or assume to be true. People, by our very nature, are intellectually hungry. We’re curious. We want to know what we don’t know — and sometimes, unlearn what we think do.
So how can we help facilitate mythbusting in our classrooms?
First, let’s be clear: every content are — and any age group — is capable of doing mythbusting.
Teach health? Take a look at the effectiveness of vaccines. Physics? Have students look at the change towards heliocentrism (for my fellow non-science nerds out there, that’s the idea the sun was at the center of the solar system). Social studies? Look at changing interpretations of the Civil Rights Movement.
Speaking of which, here’s an example of how I did that last topic with my students.
Generally speaking, here’s a couple of questions I ask myself whenever I’m creating content and have mythbusting on my mind:
- Do current understandings match what we know from data & experts?
- Does this content encourage us to question and look more deeply?
At the end of the day, what matters most with mythbusting is that you’re cultivating a practice with your students that continuous reflection matters. Educator Paulo Freire called this process “Praxis”.
The takeaway on praxis is quick: so quick I can sum it up in one short paragraph. The truth is that what we learn changes—and that’s okay. By testing and evaluating, we have the opportunity to make students’ learning experiences better. Praxis—the cycle of action and reflection—works because teachers and students can’t make good decisions without looking back on where we’ve been.