Twitter just alerted me that ijohnpederson had a new blog post. Thought I would give it a read and now I am sitting here alternating between stunned and just plain angry. John read the cover of Scholastic Administrator Magazine and the cover story was "When Tech Attacks." The article can be found at: http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3746915.
Okay, the gist of the article is that technology is causing so many problems in school that some schools are banning faster than they know what they have. They talked about a teacher who was attacked and it was recorded on a cell phone. I am still trying to figure out how the cell phone is at fault. Even though I understand that we don't want students to think it is cool to beat up a teacher and that recording it is not some trophy, didn't the police have concrete evidence of the crime?
Another teacher is in trouble because of what come up in pop-ups, but that district didn't change anything significant. Excuse me?
We are living in a world where you can access just about everything on the Internet. Isn't it our jobs as educators to teach our students how to function appropriately in this environment? This article goes on to talk about teachers that don't have enough knowledge and therefore are bad role models. Well then, why aren't we doing something about that? (By the way, I know an awful lot of teachers that work long, hard hours of their own precious time teaching themselves the technology!)
We are dealing with NCLB and doing everything in our power to raise those test scores. We are encouraged to integrate technology, but at least in my district, there is limited training and support given to teachers to accomplish that. As a matter of fact, many of us are struggling with a five-year technology plan that pulls computers out that are five-years old, but are not replacing them until we reach the proper five year date. Every time I go online, I find more and more sites blocked. We have so much information right at our fingertips and those above us who panic at letting our kids have access to that.
I resent the attitude that is prevailing. And this article just makes it worse. I am already dealing with parents that are asking how they block their kids from the social networking sites like MySpace and Bebo. I jump on my soapbox and tell these parents that banning sites is not the answer. It makes it more appealing to their kids and they just go to someone else's house to gain access. I encourage parents to get their own MySpace or Bebo accounts and to learn to live in their kids' environment. I ask them if the are aware that the presidential candidates have MySpace accounts. I assure them that there is a lot of good stuff there, but it is just as important that they teach their children the safety of the Internet as it is to teach them to look both ways before they cross the street.
My son just got home from a summer internship and told me that all the drafters and engineers had FaceBook accounts. When I first talked to him about these sites, he thought they were pretty silly. Now he has used them in a workplace atmosphere and is networking with other professionals across the country. He is amazed by the usefulness of this application.
Articles like this cause panic and doesn't deal with the issues at hand. The Internet is a part of all of our lives. Our students are going to be in a workplace where these are the tools they will utilize. The last time I checked, it was our job to prepare them for becoming productive members of society. This brings me back to the quote from John Dewey I discussed in my last entry: "The world is moving at a tremendous rate. Going no one knows where. We must prepare our children, not for the world of the past. Not for our world. But for their world. The world of the future." We MUST prepare our children for THEIR world.
Let's find a way to train more of our teachers to be good role models. Let's teach our students how to use the Internet in a safe, appropriate, and effective way. Let' not panic. Let's take these tools - computers, iPods, cell phones, whatever - and find a way to use them to the fullest. Stop giving us the negatives and give us more time and access to the Will Richardsons and so many others we have leading the way. We are teachers and lifelong learners. We are capable of mastering technology and leading our students to their future.