People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I’m not going to reminisce about the days when the nightly news (this was before cable) and newspapers (print) reported the news using facts, and op-eds (opinions and editorials, although that’s not how the term started) were labeled just that – not “marketed” as the news. Regardless, I like to think that I’m fairly well informed, although there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with 24-hours news and the constant bombardment of news update emails. And I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I were on social media.

But even though I get my news from well-known and reputable sources, I also know that several of them are biased, which means I have to process everything through that lens and then think for myself. Until recently, I never thought about how easy it would be to be deliberately “led astray” by information that is either knowingly wrong or strongly biased, especially when we live in an age where even nonsense (and photographs!) can easily be made to appear legitimate. (My daughter has shown me the magic of PhotoShop.) Unfortunately, as my sister, Black, first told me decades ago … some people never let facts get in the way of a good story.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I will not get into the studies that indicate people “choose news that supports their views” (confirmation bias) versus looking for a range of perspectives, including those that might challenge their views. (I admit that I love opposing opinions, but then I think of “arguing my position” as sport.) I also enjoy doing my homework which means finding research and facts (which are different from something that sounds like a factual statement) from credible and unbiased sources. (I am sure people hate when they include me on the email distribution of something they find interesting, only to have me do a fact-check and let them know it is not accurate.)

The concept of news literacy can be overwhelming not only due to all the legitimate sources of news, but because the internet and social media have made it very easy to get – and share – information and misinformation. Quotes and soundbites can be taken out of context, drastically changing their meaning. Combine that with the old adage of “seeing is believing,” and it is easy to see how videos filled with fake news or misinformation have potentially dangerous consequences.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What is “news literacy”? Why is it important? And before now, have you ever thought about it?
  • How do you evaluate the reliability of internet websites and other resources? How do you locate appropriate and credible sources of information?
  • Does the internet and its wealth of information have a positive or negative impact on your productivity? Your workload? Your stress level? Your happiness? Explain your answers.
  • Obviously, becoming news literate has a profound effect on the individual. What are potential ripple effects?

P.S. – You might be interested in this animated video on Research & Analytical Skills we did as part of a soft skills series for The Greater Houston Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative.

Events in our lives (both personally and in the world around us) may change from year to year, but amidst the joy and festiveness of the holidays, there’s always a certain amount of stress and challenges to get everything done. This year’s no different, and I’m sure Black would suggest (sarcastically, of course) I might want to reread my tried-and-true holiday survival list …

It's official! The holiday "silly season" (as I call it) is now underway and before I know it, it will be New Year's Day and I'll be looking back and asking, "Where did December go?!" This year's holiday goals …

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People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

It may be Health Literacy Month, but it may take more than a month for you to become comfortable with the concept of “health literacy". Red found it both intimidating and boring, while Black thought the term was off-putting and might prevent people from realizing it simply means having a basic understanding of health matters, including how to Q-I-D (ask Questions, gather Information, make smart, conscious Decisions). But we both know it’s critical for all of us, and even more important than eating that proverbial apple a day.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

As a mom, over the years, I've had to become familiar with various children's health issues and basic healthcare (and don't get me started on health insurance). But whenever it was something more than the common cold or flu, a stomach ache, or the usual scrapes and bruises, I felt like I was back in school. And between the terminology and trying to understand how the body works, I often felt like I needed a nursing degree. Not to mention, there's so much information on the internet, it can be overwhelming as well as confusing and sometimes scary.

Over the years, I've also had to deal with my aging parent's more serious health issues, and I've lost count of the pages of notes I've taken and questions I've asked. Or the conversations discussing risks vs. benefits that I've had with medical professionals and my sister. (I'm glad Black finds statistics "fun" and can look at them unemotionally because they give me a headache.)


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Until recently, I had never heard the term "health literacy," and when I first did, I initially thought about general literacy skills such as the ability to read and understand numbers. Skills that are essential if you are sick and need health information and services, but also impact health decisions that should be simple, like filling out forms, taking over-the-counter drugs (aspirin, cold and flu remedies, etc.), and learning about the things we should (or should not) do to live a healthier life and reduce the chances of serious illness.

But then, I thought about how anytime I had to deal with a health issue, especially ones that could potentially be serious, it was a tedious, complicated, and technical challenge. And, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I like to consider myself well-read, pragmatic, and comfortable with numbers and research documents. In other words, although it impacts some people more than others, the issue of "health literacy" affects us all. (And, that does not even address what it does to the cost of healthcare.)

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • Before now, have you ever thought about "health literacy"? How would you describe it? What impact does it have on your life? How can it impact your ability to be successful in the workplace?
  • Why do health and healthcare topics seem so daunting?
  • Does health literacy only impact you when you are facing health issues? Explain your answer.
  • Have you ever had a medical situation or condition that required you to learn more about it? Where did you seek information? Did you have any problems learning about it? Explain your answers.
P.S. – You might be interested in our Conversation Starters for Financial Literacy and Digital Literacy.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

It's funny, given my love of history and being a straight-A student, I still feel that I know very little about the U.S. Constitution. Except for the obvious. That after we declared independence from England, the original “constitution” was the Articles of Confederation (don’t ask me why I remember this, although I probably memorized it for a test). But even though we called ourselves the United States of America, it gave the states too much power, and once it became obvious that it wasn’t working, was replaced by the Constitution.

And I know that it begins with what’s probably the most famous three words in this country’s history, “We the People,” and provides for a stronger federal government, with three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) specifically designed to have checks and balances, so that no single branch would have too much power. But until recently, with all the focus on abortion and gun rights, not to mention the controversy about the Supreme Court, I had never really thought about the Constitution. Especially not the bigger picture, and how things seem to have gotten out of hand with government officials focusing on politics and positioning and forgetting those three incredibly important words … We the People.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, not “We the Democratic Party,” not “We The Republican Party,” … We the People.

And, for someone who self-proclaimed a lack of knowledge, you gave an excellent overview. However, I will admit I am more intrigued by constitutional law than the history of the Constitution, but you cannot separate those two things. Anyway, for the same reasons you mentioned, I did some research (“homework never ends”) and was surprised to learn that the original document was only four pages long. Of course, that was hundreds of years and 27 amendments ago. But, proves it was designed to be a living document, not just history.

Unfortunately, although conceived with checks and balances, and to represent the will of the people, the Constitution and its amendments seem to have become an assortment of political powerplays, “convenient” interpretations, and polarizing arguments. All with easy-to-quote sound bites. I cannot imagine our forefathers envisioned their words would be used to manipulate or “divide and conquer” when they said, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union …”

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What do you know about the Constitution? Have you ever really thought about what it means in terms of the United States? Or how it impacts you personally? Explain your answers.
  • Take a current major issue (abortion, gun control, same-sex marriage, etc.) that concerns you. Do you know what the Constitution has to say about it or, perhaps, more importantly, doesn’t say about it? How do we find consensus on the issue to clarify the situation?
  • Do you think a document originally created in the 1700s can still be relevant today? Explain your answer.
  • What does “We the People of the United States in Order to form a more perfect Union” mean to you? Why do you think it is the opening of the U.S. Constitution?