Critical thinking and the “filter bubble”

The recent U.S. elections in the United States have brought to light the need for all of us to be better critical thinkers and fact-check those Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat posts that enter our feeds and fuel our anxieties.

Here are some steps to take when you read something shared by a friend but not supported with reliable evidence:

  • Google it. Or Bing it or Yahoo! it or Baidu it or Naver it or do whatever you do to look up information quickly;
  • Look to see if a reliable news source (a news site that pays its reporters to do real, investigative journalism) has reported on the event in question;
  • If you can verify that the information is true, share it;
  • If you realize that the information is not true or you can’t be sure it’s true, challenge it. Comment on it and send a message to your friend to let them know that they need to question their sources.

Here are two sites that make it their business to verify information that we find online:

Snopes.com: Attempts to give accurate information about rumors and urban legends on a variety of topics, including war, business, events, toxins, science, military, popular…

Factcheck.org: Monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.

In 2011, Eli Pariser gave a TED Talk on the topic of the “filter bubble” and the ways in which Google, Facebook and other sites tailor what we see depending on our past web-browsing behaviors.  Parents and (pre-)teens (preferably together) can watch his TED talk (see below) and discuss what this type of invisible editing does to our world-view. Pariser warns that we need to balance our “information diet” and not just feed on the “junk food” diet fed to us by those who have decided what’s most “relevant” to us–not necessarily what’s important.

Pariser went on to co-found the good-news sight, Upworthy, and to write the book titled, The Filter Bubble: What the internet is hiding from you.

Do you have a resource that you use (perhaps in your mother tongue) for fact-checking or promoting critical thinking? Please let our librarians know so we can share it with our community. Email us at Eleanor_Surridge@istianjin.net or Linnea_Simon@istianjin.net

IST Parent Book Club pick — “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang

IST Parents, join us on Friday, September 23rd at 9:15 to discuss this month’s book club choice, The Vegetarian by Han Kang. If you would like the library to order a copy for you from Book Depository, email Eleanor_Surridge@istianjin.net before Wednesday, August 24th.

2016 Man Booker Prize Winner

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Originally written in Korean and recently translated into English, The Vegetarian was awarded the 2016 Man Booker Prize—one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards. Here is the announcement from Man Booker chair of the judging panel, Boyd Tonkin:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, is an unforgettably powerful and original novel that richly deserves to win the Man Booker International Prize 2016. After our selection of a diverse and distinguished longlist, and a shortlist of six truly outstanding novels in first-rate translations, the judges unanimously chose The Vegetarian as our winner. Told in three voices, from three different perspectives, this concise, unsettling and beautifully composed story traces an ordinary woman’s rejection of all the conventions and assumptions that bind her to her home, family and society. In a style both lyrical and lacerating, it reveals the impact of this great refusal both on the heroine herself and on those around her. This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers. Deborah Smith’s perfectly judged translation matches its uncanny blend of beauty and horror at every turn.’

Summer Reading for the Adults

Thank you to all the community members who came to the IST Parent & Community Book Club meetings this past year. We had some in-depth discussions on a variety of themes including war, murder, love, friendship, intolerance and inclusion. The multicultural insights have broadened all our minds. Thanks so much.

The next meeting is tentatively set for Friday, 19 August at 9:15 am in the library. The book that was selected is The Ghost Bride by Yangtze Choo. It’s available on Kindle.

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Happy reading from Jinx Morgan!

The IST Parent & Community Book Club is open to any reader who is interested. We have members from many different nationalities.  If you would like to join in our lively discussion, please come to our next meeting or email: eleanor_surridge@istianjin.net.

Parent Community Book Club News

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Ten members met last Friday. We selected the final two books of the school year. We will be meeting on Friday, 22 April to discuss The Martian by Andy Weir. This is a science fiction novel that was originally self-published in 2011 and went on to be made into a major motion picture. It is ironic that on Earth Day 2015 we will be discussing the stranding of an astronaut on Mars 2035!

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Our final read will be The Firemaker by Peter May and we will meet in May. Another irony!

IST Book Clubs Are Thriving

The IST Library supports 3 book clubs:  one for grades 3/4, one for grades 6-9, and one for adults.

Harry Potter (HP) MYP Book Club

Despite appearances, we do more than eat cake in the HP Book Club! We are full to capacity at 10 members, many of them being HP experts who design the meetings themselves. We have discussed themes (good vs. evil, orphans), symbolic meanings of names (the Latin root of Voldemort), character development, etc. We have looked at fan fiction and videos and written our own. Most recently we ran a scavenger hunt. Enthusiasm, imagination and a love of fantasy make this a great CCA.

Grade 4/5 Book Club

This year is the first time we have offered a book club for upper elementary students and what bookworms we attracted! In the first week, students brainstormed ideas of what they wanted the club to look like and they decided that thinking and sharing their ideas about books and authors should be the most important focus of our club.

Each student then chose a book that the whole group would read between our weekly book club meets. So far we have read and discussed five books. Members have also written their own reviews of the books on the library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC ) during our club sessions, so head to the OPAC  and read about their recommendations!

February: IST Parent Community Book Club

Our selection for February 2016 is Chronicle of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 19 February, at 9:15 a.m. in the library. The club is open to any IST parents of Tianjin expats who love reading; we meet monthly, usually on a Friday morning. Our members all have different mother tongues but we manage to have very insightful discussions.

Extension Reading

IST Secondary Librarian Virginia Morgan has prepared three recommended reading lists for the holidays. They have been created for students who would like to extend their learning from the different disciplines they study at IST. These subjects are represented in each list; there is one for grades 6-8, one for 9-10, and the last is for DP students. All recommendations are books that are available in our library.

DP Students: Do you study Geography? Take a look at Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time by Dava Sobel.

Wondering why you have to study maths? Find the answer in How Math Can Save Your Life by James D. Stein.

 Please stop by and take a look at this resource.

Parent Workshop Reminder

Parent Workshops Offered on 11 March: Library Resources

The Library will be offering workshops on Wednesday, 11 March. There will be three sessions: Parents of Secondary Students: 9-­‐10 am Parents of Elementary: 10-­‐11 am Combined, offered in Chinese: 10-­‐11 am.

Please email if you plan to attend! Let us know which session: jinx_morgan@istianjin.net