Best Practice

How to handle conspiracy theories in the classroom

Increasingly, conspiracy theories are making their way into the classroom. How should we respond as teachers? Andrew Jones discusses prebunking and debunking these theories and offers strategies for the classroom

In 2011, I became a head of department for religious education and sociology in a rather large comprehensive. The department, according to the then deputy head, was “on its knees” and needed revamping.

Among the outdated schemes of work was a year 7 unit on conspiracy theories, including a lesson on whether the moon landings were fake and another looking at alien abduction, Roswell and Area 51. Back then I assumed that these were taught to simply engage the students by a teacher with a somewhat open-minded approach to the curriculum.

Should conspiracy theories be taught?

It could be argued that conspiracy theories and alternative explanations force us to think critically about multiple and conflicting interpretations of historical events, current affairs and how the world really works.

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