How do you know what you don’t know?
It can be one of the hardest tasks to get students to go beyond their own opinions, especially those in the traditional college age range. I speak from two-fold experience: 1) When I was that age, I pretty much knew everything. Over the years, I have realized that I still don’t know what I don’t know, but I can tell that there is a lot within that area of the mental map labeled “There be dragons here.” 2) I’ve worked with thousands of college students at this point in my life (rough estimate: about 7,000). Bonus experience: I have four kids over the age of 25. Most have gone from thinking Dad was just stupid to thinking that maybe he know something worthwhile.
Last week we talked a little about the impossibility of reporting “Just the Facts.” I wasn’t actively looking for examples this week, but one just jumped up and slapped me in the face.
I followed a Twitter link to Mashable’s story entitled Kelly Clarkson’s Album Sales Down After Ron Paul Twitter Endorsement, intrigued by the headline. I knew they had reported last week that Clarkson’s sales were up following her endorsement of libertarian Ron Paul as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, although even then they focused on the “flap” rather than either the endorsement or the rise in sales. (The “flap” was about some followers who reacted badly to her endorsement. Other stories elsewhere reported a surge of over 400% in a single day, and quoted a number of tweets to her explicitly saying they had bought the album because of her endorsement. None of this was mentioned in either Mashable story.)