Florida teacher helps educate students on deciphering fake news

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jan 25, 2022

News literacy means understanding and making sure the news consumers read, watch and hear is actually keeping them informed.

Eric Jourgensen, an English and journalism teacher at Palm Beach Central High School, has a passion for teaching the subject. However, he says his focus and the method in which he teaches it has changed over the course of his 15-year career.

He says it's all about giving students a sense of awareness about what's real and what's not. 

"To me, it's the students being able to decipher what they see," Jourgensen said. "It's getting more and more difficult especially with the proliferation of social media." 

Jourgensen feels passionate about students being able to take the knowledge of knowing what is real versus what is fake outside of a classroom setting. 

His favorite lesson is an exercise on the so-called echo chambers on social media.

"I go talking about a chemical, dihydrogen monoxide, how dangerous it is, all the damage that it can cause and we go through all the studies on it," Jourgensen said. "By the time I'm done talking about it, they are ready to sign a petition and do away with it, and then I tell them that dihydrogen monoxide is H2O, it's water, and they start to see a lot of it was how the information was presented to them."

A student, Jill Patel, says she and her peers need this knowledge.

"Understanding news literacy, fake news versus real news and understanding the meaning behind things we see on social media is definitely important, especially for the prominence that [our generation has] on social media," she said.

"I look at my goal as a teacher to put out productive members of society," Jourgensen said. "They need to be able to take in information and know that they're making the best decision, taking in all the information available to them, not just a single source."

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