Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Manny Pacquiao is Married to Miguel Cotto: Don't Be Fooled

When I gave my students an assignment a couple of weeks ago, I gave them these instructions:

Instructions: Define the terms given below. Use references OTHER than the PRESCRIBED TEXTBOOK and WORKBOOK. Reference to books written by local authors is highly encouraged. Internet references are acceptable, but refrain from referring to blogs, online dictionaries, Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia, and/or the like. Find more authoritative online references. Cite your sources on the spaces provided.

The stats on how many students actually followed my guidelines would make an interesting topic, indeed (ie. The unexplained compulsion of youth nowadays to not get simple directions). However, I would rather talk about why I discourage online sources for schoolwork. I wanted to encourage my students to veer away (for a minute) from their laptops, go to a library, pick up a book, and for a change, read through a more reliable and credible source.

I am of the opinion that I can rely on information I would get from books and news articles more than I could on something I just stumbled upon on the internet. There is a certain authenticity to the information I see and read “in the original”. Decent research work, for me, is done with more time in the library rather than in front of my PC.

Sadly, library work, save, of course, for our class (thank goodness), is a dying art. Students tend to settle for information on the internet, rather than being inconvenienced by seeking for additional sources elsewhere. Even if a school library is accessibly situated within any campus, sitting at home in front of the PC has increasingly become more convenient to kids nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, though. I also have benefitted from getting to places and increasing my knowledge with just one click. I have gotten many papers done by just browsing through several sites and using them as references. All I want my students to understand is that researching online will demand an ability from them—discernment—something that has seemingly become uncommon. They should be able to recognize or distinguish information which is truthful from those which are disguised as the truth but are actually fabrications.

Case in point:

We all know she is very much capable of looking like him, thanks to “science”, but Jinkee’s ability to morph into Miguel Cotto is beside the point. As Filipinos, we know that this is a joke. Others, however, who are unfamiliar with these things, might take this seriously. Who does not know, Pacquiao, you say? Well, true, but with billions of seemingly smart people on the face of the earth, someone is bound to be fooled by this.

I concede that not all information online is fabricated. But not all of it is truthful as well. When I asked my students to define what “capitalist” and “industrial” partners are, I simply wanted a definition from an actual book. Not even an e-book. And if they had no other option but to surf the net, like 90% of my class as it eventually turned out, I simply wanted them to realize that what I’m looking for is an established definition and not a definition by, say, a Yahoo! user, purporting to be an expert on partnerships. Or, worse, a definition they found in a status update on FaceBook from a friend purporting to be a former student of mine.

The internet is a very welcome development. Effective and efficient, hands down. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to go out for a change and get things done outside the virtual world. All I wanted these very tech-savvy kids to understand is that, while you may learn many things from the internet, good and bad, sensational or otherwise, they should take everything with a grain of salt.

Ma. Eliza Christine Gomez, Entry #1

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