The number one reason to give everyone in a school unfettered access to the internet is that a positive community of children and adults can form around it. When you say that staff shouldn’t be friends with students on facebook, you’re wrong because:
- Societal norms are still forming around all of our new technology, and
- For goodness’ sake, I want some adults involved in the process!
Online bullying, pornography, blah blah blah. Those are good reasons to be wary of the internet. Can anyone defend them as good reasons to separate our children from our adults, and send the kids off alone? Does anyone else hear people saying, “we are worried about kids forming inappropriate online relationships, so we’re making sure they can’t have a relationship with the people who take care of them all day?” Am I the only one that hears the silent let’s-just-pretend-the-bad-people-will-follow-this-rule-too at the end of that sentence?
A Single Positive Example That Surely Applies To Everyone
About a year ago I was singing the praises of CPM, an excellent set of math courses. I didn’t teach this year, but a student (who shall remain anonymous because I have absolutely no idea who he/she is) just commented this post. This student was very angry about his/her own experience with Algebra 2:
My terrible Algebra 2 teacher taught me with this equally terrible book: tell me, why is it that the Guided Practice section doesn’t help me ONE FUCKING BIT? And how exactly are we being “taught” when the first questions we get only give the final term, which is usually a 4th degree/5th degree polynomial with no other information? Long Division > Polybullshit x 10000000. Yeah, everyone using this book or even just this stupid method is fucked for life.
I went to twitter for advice, and got several responses, including:
A couple of people also left responses directly. I wrote to the student in an email,
Hi, and thanks for reading my blog. I’m responding privately to say that your outrage about your math education makes a lot of sense. I don’t know where you took Algebra 2 or anything about you, but I’ve seen enough classrooms (and been dragged through some bad ones myself) to know that your feelings are justified.
I also want you to know that I’ve connected with a few other teachers about your comment and I’m gathering my thoughts to respond more publicly. I think I’ll probably end up writing about this experience, since that’s how I learn and process my learning. You’re invited to keep reading and responding to everything, of course. I’m assuming that I was not your teacher (let me know if I was!), and I know that there are many adults who do not respect anyone younger than themselves, so I understand why you would start by disrespecting me. From now on, I will only accept comments from you written with the basic assumption that we’re all trying to figure out a better way to teach and learn.
What I’m trying to show is that there were six adults ready to respond with concern late at night. Maybe some of us responded imperfectly, and I’m still worried that I shouldn’t be sharing the email I sent, but we’ve all got this students’ interests in mind. We’re showing by example how we want interaction on the internet to happen. We have our own supportive community of adults… for goodness’ sake, let’s bring our kids into it!