Monthly Archives: March 2020
Since the long-forgotten days of 1980, Friday the 13th has become synonymous with ill omens and bad days. I was never one to take it seriously. I noted the date and went on about my day, without a clue as to what was about to come my way. I went to school, studied for the required 2 hours and came back home. As I sat down to start the work given to me at school, my mother informed me of the seemingly glorious, but actually horrific news. A two-week, government-mandated holiday. I rejoiced!….for half a minute. And then reality settled in. I was looking at freedom from schoolwork, yes, but beyond that, there wasn’t much else to look forward to. School provides us with a monotonous schedule that distracts us from the inevitability of death. Now, I had nothing to engage my mind and body, so I turned to the beacon of hope that is the internet. I entered the virtual world at approximately 4:30 PM and was only brought back to reality by the sound of my mother’s, “IF I HAVE TO CALL YOU FOR DINNER ONE MORE TIME, I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL BREAK YOUR PHONE”. All in all, a regular day. However, the question still prevailed, “What am I going to do with the next 14 days?”. The elders warned me not to tempt fate. Now I faced the repercussions. “We are ready to start with our online classes and assignments from tomorrow…” read the email from the school. Online classes. I concluded that the devil had gotten bored with the screams of tortured souls and wanted to experiment on the realm of the living. Good-bye, waking up at 11:30, a time so between breakfast and dinner that you don’t know which to choose and hence have the liberty of choosing both. Hello, education. But the classes still left me more time than actual school.
So I decided to rekindle an old passion of mine. Reading. To enter an entirely new and exciting world with just the turn of a page, who could say no to that? 12th graders, that’s who. I started a book and finished it and was still somehow left with more time. People say having no time is the worst. But I’m betting those people never had to stay in their house for 2 weeks because a man in a far off land had been craving some bat soup. So I went ahead and did a little bit of gardening too. And that’s what this article has really been about. Though this holiday might have been unexpected and, in certain cases, an unwelcome one, my advice to you is to take this as an opportunity. Take up a hobby, or work on the one you already have. The second school starts up again, it’s just going to be homework after homework, test after test. Pretty soon, you’ll be a 12th-grade student with 2 hours of sleep and 3 assignments due in 17 minutes. Trust me, I know. Make good use of this holiday, because another one isn’t going to come soon. This is assuming, of course, that the citizens cooperate with the government and help each other. And, when has that ever NOT happened?
– Summer Batte
It’s a simple question with no simple answer: What makes information trustworthy? For parents who grew up doing research with library card catalogs and encyclopedias, or in the early days of the internet, it’s a challenge to advise kids researching a school paper online. “Stick with reliable sources” is not very helpful advice if you can’t define reliable.
You might assume (or at least hope!) your digitally savvy offspring are better equipped than their parents when it comes to filtering the reliable from biased and outright false information online. They aren’t.
Think like a search engine
If we are going to use our browser as the main portal to the world and information, we have to think like Google. There are some simple tricks your kids can use to get meaningful, reliable search results.
- Put it in quotes. To search on a contiguous term, like a name, you should search for “Suchitra Academy.” Without the quotation marks, you could get results with “Suchitra” but not “Academy.” Not super helpful.
- Go to Google News (under the search bar in your results, toggle from “all” to “news”) for controversial issues or things you’ve seen on social media that seem kind of outrageous. Google News pulls feeds from publishers and can help weed out unsubstantiated rumors.
- Use Google Scholar for academic subjects. This is a place to find peer-reviewed journal articles, citations by other scholarly sources, and whether some guy with a Ph.D. is really considered a thought leader on a topic. (Hint: You’re looking for scholarly articles by said guy and appearances of his work in university syllabi.)
- Restrict by domain. You can limit your Google results to Indian universities by adding site:edu to your search. Add site:gov to your search to get only Indian government sources in your results.
- Keywords are… key. So choose them carefully. Think about which words will help you narrow down the search so that you get the information you’re looking for.
Until you’ve checked a post out (Looked up the source on Wikipedia or checked the claim on a fact-checking site), don’t share it on social media. Model this for your kids to get them into the habit, too. The world doesn’t need garbage spread around.
Adapted and abridged