[STAFF EDITORIAL] It is time to learn about current events in school


Orion Kim

MAKING NEWS. Utilizing news sources is a convenient way to make classroom content more relevant and to start conversations about current events. Both teachers and students can contribute to incorporating news media into school spaces by bringing them into classes, clubs and student groups, and daily conversations.

It’s easy to treat school as a world on its own, separate from everything that goes on outside campus—but is that really alright? Although teachers occasionally contextualize certain lessons with references to current events, the talk inside the classroom rarely brings in anything from outside the curriculum. But school is part of the larger world, and it’s the responsibility of students and teachers to bring current events into the classes, hallways, and social spaces of campus.

Teens need to be aware of what’s going on in the world. They’re aging into a political scene that’s set amidst the backdrop of worsening climate change and widespread social movements. However, according to Statista, when teens do read the news, they overwhelmingly pick social media as their platform of choice. In order for teens to effectively participate in politics and the world, they need a more thorough understanding of current events than can be obtained through Instagram news infographics.

It’s the responsibility of students and teachers to bring current events into the classes, hallways, and social spaces of campus.

In fact, Instagram has a longstanding problem with misinformation, with over 620 thousand users following anti-vaccine accounts between July and August 2020—the largest increase of any other major social media platform. Instagram’s user base also skews heavily towards the younger side, with the vast majority of their users between the ages of 18 and 34. Both of these facts point to the worrying conclusion that teens are at a high risk of consuming dangerous misinformation. However, discussing news in school gives students the opportunity to share, and subsequently debunk, any false information they might receive from social media.

Bringing news into the classroom helps class content feel more relevant, too. How often have students complained about never using what they learn in the real world? By integrating time for conversation based on current events, especially when those events also connect to the class, teachers and students alike can alleviate feelings of academic detachment. Plus, most people have major news on their minds, so discussing news reports and connecting them to class will help people stay more engaged. And students who see themselves in the stories can feel more seen by their community.

As a school, discussions can come from all sources. Clubs and groups, especially ones that advocate for social or environmental justice, can bring and discuss news articles in their meetings. The Opinion Board, as well, is a forum specifically for sharing opinions with the whole school. If students posted articles they found interesting, or their thoughts on a current event, conversations would naturally begin to flow.

On an individual level, schedule 10-15 minutes every day to read a news source. How to begin? The answer might be as simple as opening up the computer. All students have a free subscription to The New York Times and Star Tribune that they can redeem through school Gmail accounts.

Now’s the time to ask a librarian and get signed up. And once these accounts are up and running, use them. Stay informed—sign up for a newsletter if checking the website every day isn’t your style. And bring this newfound consciousness to class, where it certainly won’t go unnoticed.

This editorial was originally published in the January print edition of The Rubicon.