Examining Opposing Viewpoints
An approach which will help students to gain insights into an
event is to examine views on related issues. Some views may
be conventional, others radical or reactionary. By examining a
range of arguments, one can understand the position of a particular
point of view and, hence, more fully understand his or her own.
More specifically, the student comes to realize that his or her own
opinion is not the only one which is rational or defensible.
To assist in giving students the ability to critically analyse a piece
of communication, the following material focuses on distinguishing
fact from opinion, identifying stereotypes, and recognizing
ethnocentrism. The material consists of a series of letters to the
editor, from local St. John's newspapers, which argue for and
against voting for confederation with Canada.
By engaging in these processes, students will achieve the following
Canadian History 1201
- Know reasons used by confederates.
- Know reasons used by anti-confederates.
- Examine methods used by confederate and anti-confederate groups.
- Objectively analyse conflicting historical interpretations.
- Retrieve and categorize information form a variety of
- Engage in critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving.
- Appreciate history as a product of the interplay among
aspirations, personalities, ideals, and cultures.
- Respond critically to a range of texts, applying their
understanding of language, form, and genre.
- Communicate information and ideas effectively and
clearly, and to respond personally and critically.
Social Studies Skills
This lesson also promotes the following social studies skills:
- Read information sources with discrimination, particularly
differences in purpose and coverage.
- Classify visuals, facts, positions, and events.
- Distinguish between fact and opinion.
- Recognize agreement or contradiction among sources and
reasons for them.
- Consider the reliability of information sources in terms of
consistency, reasonableness, and objectivity.
Participating in Groups
- Participate in groups formed to achieve a common goal.
- Give and receive feedback in a positive manner.
- Accept the role of a group facilitator.
- Willingly work within the parameters defined by a task and
related rules of conduct.
- It is suggested that exercises 1,2, and 3 be completed
- Divide the class into groups of five students. Assign
exercise 4 to each individual.
- Then ask students in each group to arrive at a consensus on
which letter is least convincing. Each group will list the
reasons for the selection on chart paper.
- Assume the role of facilitator and arrive at a large group
(i.e., whole class) consensus on the selection.