Writing Our Civic Futures (February): Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age

February 01, 2018
By Liana Gamber-Thompson

Join us for another exciting month of Writing Our Civic Futures, a collaboration of the National Writing Project and Marginal Syllabus that supports conversations about civic engagement and learning over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. Refer to the syllabus for information on all the annotatable readings, which will go “live” on the first Monday of each month, along with related events hosted by CLTV and others.

This Month’s Topic: Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age

In February we explore research from Joseph Kahne and Benjamin Bowyer about the impact of media literacy education on how young people judge the factual accuracy of partisan claims tied to controversial societal issues. In “Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age: Confronting the Challenges of Motivated Reasoning & Misinformation (2016),” the authors discuss their findings from an experiment embedded within a nationally representative survey of American youth, in which Kahne and Bowyer found that youth assessments of simulated online posts depended on one’s prior policy position and, to a lesser extent, inaccurate statements within the posts.

This research is especially relevant as concerns over “fake news” grow and partisan tensions and rhetoric escalate. Kahne and Bowyer explain:

The democratic process suffers when individuals are inattentive to or unable to judge the factual accuracy of political content (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996). Acceptance and circulation of misinformation undermines reasoned decision making and informed action while delegitimizing the promise of deliberation. Moreover, increasing partisanship and dynamics associated with political engagement in the Digital Age (e.g., the diminished vetting of truth claims by gatekeepers and the prevalence of homophilous online networks) have increased both exposure to misinformation and the need to prepare youth to assess the accuracy of truth claims.

As you read, we encourage you to think about how you navigate the terrain of political misinformation or support young people in doing so. Access the full text, which is openly available online, via Educator Innovator. Using this link will enable you to view annotations (yellow highlights indicate annotations; the annotation tool displays along the right side of your browser) others have added to the text.

Join the Annotated Conversation

We invite you to read “Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age” by Joseph Kahne and Benjamin Bowyer, and annotate the text with your own thoughts and reactions. Annotations are being added via the web annotation platform Hypothes.is. To add your own annotations, as well as to respond to others, sign up for your free account.

For more support, see this annotation tutorial from Marginal Syllabus or this overview of Hypothes.is from KQED Teach.

Share your annotations as you read or any time throughout the week. While we encourage your participation in the week-long annotation of the text (February 5-10), the readings will remain online for annotation and discussion through the month and into the Fall. We also encourage you to use these readings and the opportunity to annotate however it best works for you—organize a study group, bring a class you are teaching, engage as an individual, or connect it to a meeting.

The Extended Conversation/Additional Resources

You can also refer back to previous annotated articles at the Educator Innovator blog to access additional resources and connect conversations in this series.