During a conference recently, I moderated a panel titled, The Supreme Court Is In Session: Ask the Experts. When we reached the portion of the program during which attendees were encouraged to ask questions or make statements about the current state of affairs with incorporating technologies into the classroom instruction, one gentleman in the crowd made the following statement:
I was told by my administrator that if I have a Facebook account, I will be fired immediately!!
Now, I've heard some crazy things coming from the mouths of administrators, but this one "took the cake." When the person revealed this truth, one word sprang to my mind: "insecurity."
Often, we talk about keeping our networks secure. That is a good thing. We even talk about keeping our fellow employees secure. That's a good thing--in concept, anyway. When we mention keeping students secure, though, that often brings on some new meanings. And, often, it involves some person "in charge," who has control over the environment in which the young person finds himself/herself.
Yes, we've heard the cavalcade of "excuses" why Facebook shouldn't be allowed in schools. However, in the same breath, we will create social networking situations that can be equally harmful, yet they have been accepted for many years and are not deemed as dangerous. For example, let's ask ourselves, "For how many years have schools had recess?" And, during recess times, don't we actually encourage students to interact with each other? We even create games and other situations during recess that force students to "network." What excuses do we cling to that lull us into believing these situations are not as dangerous as interactions on Facebook? Do we think that, since we're monitoring students' activities on the playground, nothing will happen? Oh, yeah. Right! Like we teachers on duty can keep our eyes on everything that's happening. Who are we fooling?
It's funny. One of the main advantages of Facebook for me is the resurrection of connections from former students and colleagues. Although many years have passed since we were together, we're renewing our bonds. And, the bonds we're renewing now are, in some cases, much stronger than they were "back in the day." Is there value in building connections among people? Is there value in our teaching students how to handle personal interactions? Is there value in "digging deeper" to learn more about the people we call "friends"? Is there value in focusing upon the true meaning of friendship?
Why, then, would a school administrator issue such an ultimatum to a teacher?
Many of you who read this blog are in-the-trenches practitioners. So, I await with great eagerness your responses. Please join the dialogue about this issue. And, for some great reading on this topic, visit Will Richardson's blog...or David Warlick's 2 cents worth blog.
Oh, and if I don't hear from you via this blog, perhaps I'll run into you on Facebook!!