Today’s New York Times (Sunday 18 Dec 2011) has an article on Rules to Stop Pupil and Teacher From Getting Too Social Online. School boards and state legislatures, in reponse to inappropriate communications between students and teachers using social media, are attempting to establish and enforce stricter guidelines on how students and teachers interact.
While everyone quoted is of course concerned about how social media use can lead to inappropriate interactions, those quoted who would resist guidelines which are too strict tend to see social media as a tool for expanding education outside of the classroom. One mentioned that using social media for communication “works”, since it is a major means by which students communicate these days. Another saw it as an extension of the classroom, and saw benefits in modeling “best practices on social media use.”
But in the background I hear echoes of the moral debate that George Lakoff uncovers in the political sphere. For a strict father practitioner in the education realm, education is about a central figure of authority imparting the required knowledge to subordinate students, and the best way to do this is the traditional way, standing in front of a classroom. Those students who can succeed in this normal environment will succeed in life; the rest won’t.
Those resisting the stricter guidelines have all the hallmark of nurturant parent educators, working side-by-side with students helping guide them along the path. And if it means taking up the means by which students today communicate, all the better.
Verdict: there is a lot more going on to this debate beneath the surface than this article gets at.