Sources and citizens: An essay in applied epistemology
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPolicy Futures in Education. 2020, 18 (4), 531-544. 10.1177/1478210320921722
How should pupils use the internet to learn? This essay sets up two modes of using online sources, reading for information and reading for evidence, and evaluates their value for schools. The former is well known; pupils decide whether the source is telling the truth or not. The latter is more familiar in advanced historical investigation, namely deciding what this source’s utterance means for the question in hand. One of these simply hands pupils information. The other requires them to understand what they are reading. It is argued that an education that only involves one of these cultivates passive pupils who are unable to adjust their own attention or listen to minority reports in science. Only when pupils also investigate primary sources will they experience developing their own knowledge, and believe in education.