I read this great piece by Melinda Anderson in the Atlantic on how internet filtering hurts kids about the same time that I started putting together my latest presentation for MASC on social media. I started to work on this at a high school ...which has social media blocked on their wifi.
Thus the media that is important enough that school committee members are going to special training sessions on using it themselves and figuring out how to use it for their districts is not important enough to allow our students access to.
And we claim to be raising 21st century citizens.
I see some who (still) think that the online universe is a passing fad, as if in twenty years, no one will be connecting electronically anymore. I hear this particularly in district discussions about cell phone use, when those who haven't seen a class full of high school students pull out phones when asked to look something up opine about what kids are doing online.
If we want students to responsibly use media of all kinds, we need to TEACH them to do that! It does not happen spontaneously. And yes, this is something that we hope parents are doing. But many are not, and in many cases, schools are better equipped to instruct.
If one of the skills kids need to get along is how to ignore Facebook at work, shouldn't they be learning that now?
Just as we teach students to read articles with a critical eye, to check their math problems, to do science experiments safely, to work with each other respectfully, we need to teach them to read online with a critical eye, to check their online sources, to work online safely, and to teach them to interact with others online respectfully.
We want kids to know what's going on in the world? Most of us aren't waiting for a daily paper or the nightly news for that.
We want kids to be involved advocates? Most of that organizing is happening online.
We want kids to active citizens? Much of that activity is taking place online.
We are doing our kids a real disservice to block all such activity rather than to direct and interact with it.