Talk to your kids about Wikipedia before their teachers do.

Talking to kids, when I find they don’t know something I ask them to google it or to check out Wikipedia. And they all say, “Wikipedia is unreliable, I would never read it!”. Somehow the rule in schools that Wikipedia is not an authoritative source to reference for a paper has turned in a strongly held belief the site should be avoided entirely. Teachers, you done f*cked up!

And really, the school rule not to cite Wikipedia exists because Wikipedia makes assignments too easy–it would be one citation for most kids if allowed, and the teachers want to students to dig deeper, find two or three other sources, maybe crack a book. Which is a fine educational goal, but in implementation it has given kids the completely wrong idea. Wikipedia is a great place to start for most questions, almost always accurate. Entries tend to be short, shorter than Encyclopedia Britannica, but it provides a good starting point–enough info to remind you of an forgotten fact–“When was the War of 1812?”, and enough to give you details to guide a google search for more information.

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