Learning Via The Tree Octopus

Hello, I'm a tree octopusI just read this article on the Tree Octopus of the Pacific Northwest.

OK, the article is not actually about the tree octopus. It is about how an online tool referenced by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills that is meant to determine the legitimacy of a website is not actually a very good tool. See, they tested a bunch of junior high kids, and they all failed.

So what we have learned is that middle school kids are not able to discern the accuracy of a hoax created by web savvy adults with the intention of deceit.

Getting real, we probably all know people who are easily fooled by misinformation, bogus statistics and put-ons, even as adults. A straight face and sarcasm can be very confusing to children.  They don’t get satire.  It’s why someone like Stephen Colbert does not let his own kids watch his satirical TV show. For that reason, the argument is not as much about the tool in question, because I think the tool can work for older kids who are more savvy.

I think perhaps what can be gleaned is:

  1. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has a notion that kids must learn what is valid online information and what is not. That is valuable.
  2. There needs to be additional and conscious learning on how to verify validity of online information.
  3. Developmentally, young kids are not as able to decipher sophisticated adult humor or deceptive communication, so they need active guidance in Internet use.

OK, back to reading about my little octopus friend.


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