There’s an aside in one of my notebooks (or several, as it’s turned out) that reads: Has anyone ever deliberately placed bad science or social studies information in children’s media to get children thinking? How about left out information? I haven’t been able to come up with any examples yet, but if you think of one, please feel free to leave it in the comments.
I think this question is worth considering because error analysis is a pretty useful teaching tool. Who among us didn’t love as a kid (or even now as an adult) being able to point to something in a television show, movie, or book and say, “That’s wrong. This is how it would be if it were right!”? How many of us have, as guardians and caregivers, had the pleasure of watching a child’s eyes light up in amazement when we show them why a television show, movie, or book is wrong? The child’s response is to run off and tell someone else what they just learned with the same enthusiasm they might tell you that a cherished friend a visiting. And the next several times the child sees you, she’ll tell you about that mistake again. It’s like a peer teaching moment of sorts, and it stays with her.
Error analysis is also a great assessment tool because employing it allows parents and teachers to see how well a child has mastered the concepts presented. When you ask a child to really think about the media they’re consuming, the child’s response demonstrates where a child is in understanding her world and how she applies that understanding to the world around her. Engaging in error analysis is also a great way to open a discussion analyzing what characters are doing and what could be done instead. It allows us to engage that child in a conversation, building several skills at the same time in an authentic manner.
When errors are deliberately introduced into children’s media, it has the potential to encourage children to think more critically about what they’re consuming.