Fact, Assumption or Opinion?

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1-3

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn the story of Hannah praying for a son.
  • Students will learn tools to help them discern the difference between facts, opinions, and assumptions.  

Guiding Questions:

How can we distinguish between facts, assumptions, and opinions?

Materials: pre-written scenarios of assumptions, facts, and opinions.

Review the story of Hannah praying for Samuel. Especially focus on 1 Samuel 1:1-18 where she is confronted by Eli while praying because he wrongly assumed she was drunk. In this lesson, students will learn about logical fallacies. Play a game called, “Fact, Assumption, or Opinion?” Students will learn that when someone says something it may be a fact, it may be their opinion or it may be something they guess is a fact based on the evidence they have seen.

Explain it is important to know the difference because we make important decisions based on the information people give us. We need to be sure that we are making decisions based on truth and not something that could be incorrect. For example, Eli could have assumed that Hannah had a drinking problem based on her body language. If he told someone that she had a drinking problem, then her reputation might have been tainted. If she was applying for a job, someone might not hire her because of it. However, the true fact is that she was praying passionately. Hannah knew for a fact God answers prayers, so she knew God heard her even though his answer could be yes, no or wait. A fact is true and verifiable. An assumption is a conclusion that someone comes to on their own based on combining different clues. An opinion is based only on someone’s personal feelings about a matter.

  • Fact: Hannah was praying.
  • Opinion: Hannah spends too much time at the temple.
  • Assumption: Since Hannah’s lips were moving without a sound, she is drunk.

Give students statements and have them guess whether it is a fact, someone’s opinion or what someone thinks is a fact based on the evidence they have seen. If the answer is assumption, encourage students to determine the evidence of the assumption and also determine why it cannot be true fact. Even assumptions are usually based on facts, but the person assuming does not have all of the information, so they make their own conclusion whether it is true or not. Also have them come up with other assumptions that could be made from “evidence.” This shows students that since multiple conclusions can be made, the assumption that one person makes is not always right.

Tips that something is fact:
• The person who the information is about directly tells you. (Beware of “he said”/“she said.” (The more people that are told, the less accurate it is compared to the original account.)
• You see it with your own eyes.
• You hear the full story and do not only hear part of it (For example, walking in during the middle of a conversation does not mean you know all the facts.)
• Always ask the original source. It is better to ask someone and be straightforward than to assume you have the answers.
• It is okay to copy someone’s homework answers because Mrs. Jones never fusses about it. (Assumption. Alternate conclusion: Mrs. Jones does not see students copying each other’s homework because she is too focused on the lesson and the students copying are in the back of the classroom.)
• Natalia is not going to the service project on Saturday because she works on Saturdays. (Assumption because she could be taking off from work or have new hours.)
• You walked up to Taylor and Sam while they were talking about their weekend. Taylor said that he enjoyed the best tacos he had ever eaten on Friday. The only Mexican restaurant you know of is Mi Amigo’s Cocina Restaurant on 12th Street. You tell Jandy that Taylor went to Mi Amigo’s Cocina on Friday. (Assumption because he could have eaten them at a friend’s house.)
• Sally should take style advice from Jessica because her dresses are too old. (Opinion because other people might think that her clothes aren’t old or that Jessica is not who she needs to get advice from)
• Kiki saw Mandy buttering bread for the dinner. She told Mandy that she should have been cleaning the dishes instead of buttering because the dishes were her assigned duty on the daily chart. Mandy was being selfish by trying to do the easier work. (Assumption because Mandy might have been told to do take out the bread or needed to take someone else’s place.)
• Your friend, Joe needs a place to sleep tonight. He told you that he was looking for someone to let him sleepover and the only hotel in town is full. You also saw the “No Vacancies” sign on your way home and know that Joe is from a town 8 hours away. (Fact)
• Jerrod should spend more time studying his math flash cards. (Opinion)
• Maggie does not like ham because she trades her ham sandwich for Sam’s chicken nuggets at lunch every day. (Assumption)
• Micah makes baked goods for community workers. I went to Micah’s house on Friday and he was covered in flour when he answered the door. As we walked in the kitchen, I noticed he had cookies in the oven. He said he was making them for the community workers in the neighborhood. (Fact)
• Jerrod said Tanya has the best chicken in the town. The town needs more restaurants. Tanya should open a restaurant. (Opinion)

Additional Questions:

  • How would you feel if someone made an assumption about you instead of asking you about it directly? Why do you think some people do not want to ask the person directly?
  • How would Hannah’s story have been different if Eli had not addressed her directly? Was it right for him to get onto her for drinking before finding out the whole story?
  • How do assumptions lead to gossip?

Supplemental Activity: Have students analyze advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and on T.V. Let them highlight or underline opinions in yellow and facts in green. What assumptions can they also make based on the advertisements? What facts do they come away with? How can they use this information when making decisions as consumers?

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