Read all about it! How to get students discussing current affairs

An online platform is connecting children with each other and experts to learn about the news. So how can its principles be used to help foster debate?

Lucy Palmer from The Economist Educational Foundation reports in The Guardian

If you find the current news agenda head-spinning, imagine how young people feel. I work for a charity teaching the critical thinking skills needed to navigate the news, and recent events have put some big political issues at the forefront of students’ minds. The Brexit result left many young people feeling let down, and the outcome of the US election sent out further shock waves.

Now, the term “fake news” is rattling around and political opinions are becoming increasingly polarised. Just this week the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommended schools teach children how to spot fact from fiction. But with young people spending more time online, how do we provide a space where pupils can discuss the big issues, without fear (or fake news) getting in the way?

Getting children to partner up and work together is key, as is connecting them with experts where possible. We run an initiative called the Burnet News Club (BNC), which brings together schools across the UK to learn about and discuss the news.

We’ve learned a lot from pupils and teachers about the best ingredients needed to approach these issues – and about how students can work together to improve their understanding of the news.

It’s inspiring to see children come to the hub, with very different political opinions, to negotiate and suggest solutions. It’s important they feel ownership of a space so they can challenge one another freely and, through this process, build stronger arguments. But they also need to know that what they’re saying has a real audience.

Read more about the Burnet News Club Read all about it! How to get students discussing current affairs

Do you you find it difficult discussing politics in the classroom? Please send us you thoughts or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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