What do you compare? (similarities between two or more things)
What do you contrast? (differences between two or more things)
What is the difference between comparing and contrasting? (to note what is the same and what is different)
What is a topic? (an idea, a focus, a theme, a subject, etc.)
Why is it important to read many and varied resources in order to make generalizations about a topic? (to be adequately informed, to have as much knowledge as possible to make clear distinctions and connections, etc.)
Discuss the importance of multiple perspectives with your child in many different contexts, especially when searching for veracity, or truth. Even news reports, which are supposed to be free from bias and prejudice, are affected by people’s opinions and points of view. Watch part of the news together and detect the opinions – usually they are pretty obvious, but sometimes subtle!
Beyond identifying opinions in text, finding mismatched facts in different texts is a red flag that most sources could be incorrect. Obviously, at least one of them is! Sometimes the fact they are stating is an unknown piece of information. When there is such a discrepancy, use a reliable reference text such as an encyclopedia (online encyclopedias are usually okay – NOT Wikipedia) to confirm or negate the fact(s).
View Wikipedia and discuss why the information presented on the site (and the Internet in general) is not 100% reliable, but still valuable. People’s opinions or firsthand experiences are worthy of noting and sharing; however, there are many layers of truth and understanding. Our perceptions of the world that we accept can change with new information. For example, people used to think the world was flat until scientists proved its spherical figure. Also, Native American Indians were portrayed negatively as savages in many early textbooks, when this was later proven with firsthand documents that this was usually not the case.
Do an independent study to find as many topics or bodies of knowledge as possible that have been defined and believed to be a certain way, and then proved to be something completely different (e.g., the earth being the center of the universe, cloning not being possible, paintings once not valued now invaluable, etc.). Share the report with peers or family members.
Have a debate about controversial topics. Partner up with someone to present different points of view or argue both yourself! To challenge yourself, choose the side you do not agree with – forcing yourself to understand others’ perspectives helps you grow, but doesn’t mean you have to think the same way. Some possible topics: adoption, global warming, marriage, taxes, video game violence, etc.
What kinds of resources can you use to learn about a topic? (non-fiction books, newspaper or magazine articles, reference materials like encyclopedias, the Internet, etc.)
What should you take into consideration when reading any source of information? (what its origin is – where it comes from – what bias(es) it might have, what credibility it might have, its copyright date, etc.)
If a excerpt says something like, “In my opinion…”, what does that tell you? (that it might not be a reliable source of facts if it is based on opinion)
Is there value in people’s perspectives or points of view? (yes, of course)
Why is it important to understand more than one point of view about a topic? (so you can see both sides and have a deeper understanding of the issue; also, to counter other’s arguments, you must know what they are)
What does accurate mean? (precise, correct, exact, true, etc.)
What does reliable mean? (dependable, consistent, trustworthy, etc.)
How can you tell if information from a passage or article is accurate? (if it has explanations, facts, and details that can be verified by at least one other source)
How can you tell if resources are reliable? (if they are non-fiction – genre – and if they include proof or evidence for their details)
How can resources include proof or evidence for their details and facts? (in a bibliography or reference sheet that cites original, primary sources or other reliable sources)