Educate don't Isolate!It's amazing to me what people will blame for the problems in this world. America is fat, blame McDonalds. People get lung cancer, blame tobacco companies. The Cubs can't win the world series, blame a goat.
Whatever happened to people taking responsibility for their problems?
Let me tell you about the latest example: In the state of Missouri, Gov Jay Nixon signed a law into existence that prohibits teacher-student Facebook friendship. Not just Facebook, but any social network that is exclusive and allows for private communication.
From the bill:
Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.I'm sure there are ways to "work around" the law, but is it worth the risk? Now, I understand the intent of the law. Yes, there have been some incidents where teachers and students have had inappropriate relationships. Yes, there is always a danger of problems arising in the area of social media, but is social media to blame?
My good twitter friend @johntspencer and I joked back and forth about the new bill. We applied the logic to different areas. For example, when I was in college a coach had an affair with an athlete, and yet athletics weren't outlawed. I had a teacher who later got fired for drinking at a restaurant during a field-trip, but field-trips weren't outlawed. As John suggested, if a math teacher sleeps with a student, should we blame math. After all, math teaches us to multiply.
I agree with John's assessment that we need to take the "digital" out of "digital citizenship" and "cyber" out of "cyber-bullying". Bullying happens in the cafeteria, but we don't call it "cafe-bullying". We don't just teach kids to be good citizens in the digital world, we teach them to be good citizens. We don't stop bullying that just occurs online, we stop bullying.
It's not a matter of location, or if it's a physical or virtual reality. It's about integrity!
I can not imagine a world anymore where I can't communicate with my current and former students through social media. I've had students this summer contact me about putting me down as a job reference, asking me questions about their schedule for the new school year, and some have just wanted to talk. I've asked students their opinion on new ideas I want to try this school year, and many of them read my blog and give me feedback. Some of them like my ideas, and some of them challenge me (Yes Thomas, I'm talking about you)! I want and need both types of feedback.
We can not continue to ISOLATE students and hope they'll be safe! We must EDUCATE them and know they'll be safe. Education is the answer to the problem. A teacher in my school educated her students on the dangers of social media, and many of them began to make their Facebook pages more private, they cleaned up their friend lists of people they didn't know, and they stopped posting their location every five minutes.
That's how you solve this issue Gov. Jay Nixon!
America is fat because we eat to much, people have cancer because they choose to smoke, and the Cubs can't win a world series because their team isn't good enough.