Identifying Fake News: Critical Literacy and the School Library

Cathal Coyle

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"We are living in an era where libraries, literacy and information are vital in trying to make sense of the events over the past decade that have impacted on all of us, whether it is the Banking Crisis, Brexit, Climate Change or Covid-19. School libraries are absolutely crucial in shaping young people’s approaches to analysing information – an important life skill." --Cathal Coyle.

This guideline looks at the important theme of critical literacy, a whole-school, cross-curricular approach that is applicable to both primary and secondary. Critical literacy helps students evaluate information for features such as relevance, accuracy, currency, credibility and potential bias; it has recently come into focus with its positive role for educators in helping to identify 'fake news'.

'Fake news' isn't a new phenomenon – the manipulation of information and the use of false stories that appear to be news has been around for centuries. It can be challenging for primary and secondary school pupils to analyse and understand what 'fake news' is, and critical literacy is one approach that can help. 

This publication aims to clarify the various forms of 'fake news', in terms of the historic and current contexts; and also clearly defines the theory and practice of critical literacy, particularly how it can be directly applied to the curriculum and the school library. It also includes case studies by several critical literacy practitioners who offer practical advice regarding a clear approach for educators.

A special supplement section containing the Appendices and larger versions of the Figures is available for purchasers to download.

2020. ISBN 978-1-911222-21-7.

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Cathal Coyle
Cathal Coyle is a librarian at St. Patrick’s College, Dungannon, County Tyrone. In recent years he has introduced a number of critical literacy initiatives into learning activities throughout his school. Cathal also has a specialist role with the School Library Association, commissioning and editing the various publications that the Association produces throughout the year. Prior to this, he authored three books with The History Press, most recently The Little Book of Irish Landmarks in 2017.

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