I tweeted a news item announcing a Cleveland school administration forbids teachers from friending students on Facebook. I am not one of Facebook’s biggest fans, but teachers talking with students–in public–is a good thing for many reasons.
It makes kids familiar with a tool that is likely to be part of their lives. It teaches them they can access valuable sources online. Teachers who care can put in extra time. Students and teachers can share and learn from each other. Followup classroom question can be asked in a new and efficient way.
I was surprised that several people in my stream favored the ban. USNG Lt. Col. Daniel. C Mosqueda, who I wrote about in Twitterville, said a teacher had rebuffed his own kid because it showed “fraternization.” Someone who tweets from Florida as Whineauxobserved that we live in a time when false accusations can ruin a career.
We have always lived in a time when false accusations have hurt good people. We have always had teachers who showed favoritism. In fact most of us show we have favorites in any group.
Times change. Issues don’t but the tools that get debated do.
A few years back, I learned about a case of a teacher who banned students from using Google to research a history report. The teacher thought it was cheating. Most people thought it was ridiculous. The teacher was encouraged to take her retirement on full pension.
Meanwhile almost everyone seems concerned that education on all levels seems to be antiquated. It is hard to keep education contemporary and thus meaningful for young people who don’t really remember a world without online social networks.
I believe the educational value of social media tools is immense and simultaneously off to a slow start. Teachers friending students? I’m sure there will be some inappropriate behavior in one direction or another. I’m sure some students will receive favoritism.
But those instance will be in the VAST minority. The social tools are new tools and the more they are vetted into conversations between students and those entrusted to educate them, the better off we will be or so it seems to me.