Monday, February 22, 2010

Is it Fact or Opinion?

Reality shows, afternoon talk shows, websites, magazines, commercials, and even the television evening news shows seem to focus more on other people’s opinions instead of the facts about or details leading to an event or a person.

Some media give their “view” or “take” or “sense of what’s going on” rather than focus on the facts. Sometimes TV stations cleverly use glitz and graphics to disguise opinions as actual facts, and kids are sometimes not sophisticated enough in their development to realize the difference. Although an opinion format can be entertaining, you might consider discussing with your kids the differences between fact and opinion.

The best approach to making your child aware of whether something is a fact or opinion is with “on the spot” casual conversations of the issue. Discuss the actual facts, and then share your opinion using-- “I think...I feel…in my opinion…or I could argue that…” These are effective examples of how to do it. Your job is to encourage your children to discover the facts embedded in issues and to develop their own viewpoints.

Dealing with facts and opinions will be a challenge for your kids as productive citizens and as consumers in their future. However, for now, an awareness of fact/opinion will help lay the

foundation for persuasive speaking/writing at school. As part of this process, students think about the facts of an issue, and categorize them into a pro (for) or con (against) list. Students form their own opinions about an issue and support them by using facts as actual evidence. This teaches them how to use and practice effective methods to persuade an audience (for example, students, parents, or friends) to their way of thinking.

Forming opinions, beliefs and values with others is an important aspect of being in a family, a school and/or a community. Knowing the difference between fact and opinion can be a steppingstone to making good, independent decisions for your child on a daily basis.

Try out this fact/opinion process whenever you can. Have fun with it; and don’t be surprised if your child takes to it quickly if you approach it as if it were a game. Let me know how you make out doing some part of this with your child. I’d love to hear from you.