SOME KEY CONCEPTS: facts, opinions, point of view, history, story, historical accounts, critical evaluation
An interactive exploration of whose history becomes “official” and whose gets lost, how you can know or at least think you know you’re getting the real stories; led by Doug Selwyn and the ECHO team. First presented at The LAVA Center on July 14, 2021.
Goals of this activity:
- realizing that each of us is both an eyewitness to history and a participant to history in the making, and that our accounts are important parts of the historical record;
- learning to become critical consumers of histories that we read, asking questions that enable us to evaluate the credibility of our sources.
To get the most from this session, follow along with the video. You will need blank paper and pencil or pen, and a timer.
[IMAGE] Notes from group discussion of the “official” history of the Greenfield Library. Hearing multiple points of view can help us remember to always question the dominant narrative, and our own assumptions.
GUIDING QUESTIONS TO ASK WHILE TAKING IN THE CONTENT/SKILL: What is the difference between a fact and an opinion? How does a story change depending upon the point of view of the person telling it? What does it feel like if the “official” history is one that doesn’t reflect your point of view? What if your point of view is confirmed by the “official” history? How can we enrich our sense of historical events by considering multiple points of view?
QUOTATION: “I think that’s what makes history so exciting: that it’s always to be questioned.” – Carol Aleman
- The Recorder – Daily newspaper from Greenfield, MA
- Library Building Committee – City of Greenfield MA (greenfield-ma.gov)
- Everything Greenfield MA | Facebook
- Media-Bias-Chart-7.0_January-2021-Licensed-Copy.pdf (adfontesmedia.com)
PROJECT SUGGESTIONS AND WAYS TO PRACTICE:
- Using the links provided or any others you find, see what more you can learn about the history of the Greenfield library and the 2019 decision to build a new one. As you find sources, consider whether they are factual, expressions of opinion, or a mixture of both.
- In a group or classroom setting, using the activity and structure in the videotaped presentation, explore multiple points of view on a shared historical event or issue.
- Choose any issue that is important to you and is in the news. Read and/or view relatively neutral and also very contrasting accounts. The Media Bias Chart is one way to identify sources of accounts that some have identified as neutral, skewing left, and skewing right.
[PHOTO AND LINK TO BIO OF PRESENTER:]