Wednesday, April 28, 2010


In her article: "Google is not the last word in information" April 29, 2010 Lia Timson tells the story of a nine-year-old who arrives home from school and goes straight to the computer. When asked why, he replies he needs to start his new school project. He is excited and goes straight to Google.
He encounters problems because his grandpa isn't in "google." Great relief occurs when an "original source": a box of documents lovingly kept by grandma all these years is discovered.

The main lesson learnt was the realisation that information and history don't just appear on Google. Someone has to publish it onto the web, put it there in the first place."

As educators we must ask that assignment bibliographies include more than just "three websites". Teachers must insist on a variety of media as sources, including interviews with real people, be they witnesses, historians or surviving relatives, and even insist on trips to the local library.

If teachers and parents don't, students won't learn to question what they find. They won't know how to distinguish between fact, opinion, hyperbole, sales pitch and pure fantasy – to question the source of the information.
They will take it for Google-gospel.

If you would like to promote the
use of primary sources
 in your own programs
Joyce Valenza and her students have produced a theme song on "primary sources" for the library of congress. 

Sweet Primary Sources from Joyce Valenza on Vimeo.

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