School Makes Me…

Yesterday I shared a photo shared by one of my facebook friends. When I first saw it, I had a visceral reaction – my gut literally lurched as I read the words in the image. This morning, as I saw my own friends react in very much the same way to the image, I decided to do some after the fact-checking.

Here is the original image:

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I did my own google.com search with the same terms and came up with this, not quite as descriptive but equally as disturbing:

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Google.ca, well in character, comes up with a slightly more optimistic version:

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But things return to their dire straits with a slight change in the search terms:

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So what does this mean, this assumption on the part of Google that school basically sucks? Since Google provides results based on popular searches…it means that when people type in ‘School makes me’ or ‘School gives me’ they very often complete their searches with those very sad qualifiers.

We have the power to change this.

On a googlish level, we need to start looking for hope. Start searching for the stories that portray school as a transformative space, full of hope, love, care, and relationships.

On a larger level, in our schools and centres, with our students and teachers, we need to live those stories. As educators, we need to be hopeful, loving, and caring. We need to connect with our students and with each other in a way that supports, in a way that ensures no one sees school as a lonely, sad, anxiety-ridden place.

It starts with caring.

We so have the power to change this.

to pin or not to pin…

I wrote about how much I like(d) using Pinterest just last week in Pinterest for Teaching. About how excited I was about its potential for sharing resources and even professional development, of a sorts. It’s so exciting, it’s almost addictive.

And then 2 things happened, maybe 3.

  1. I had a conversation with some people at work.
  2. I read this article.
  3. I realized how clumsy the service is.

  1. I recently started working as a tech integration consultant at a school board with two adult education centres and one of the things I did in preparing myself to begin last week was to start collecting resources about adult learning. I began a little blog (soon to be moved to the school board’s servers) and I started pinning, inspired by other educators who were pinning collections of resources on their own pinterest accounts.

    I told our technology director about this and his reaction to it all was that was all fine and good BUT. And the but had to do with preservation of information.

    Pinterest is a neat way of collecting resources, there’s no getting around that. It harkens back to my high school bedroom wall, which was covered in pictures torn out of magazines, quotes I loved from the books I read, and posters from the albums I listened to. That bedroom wall was my private sanctuary and pinterest is about sharing those things – at a rapid speed.

    The other night pinterest was down, just as I was writing that post I referred to at the top of this one. A major concern that was outlined in this conversation I had with our technology director had to with saving resources on an outside server. What happens when/if they decide to shut it all down, or something horrible happens and their servers crash in a major way. Or. Or. Or.

    Part of my job is to share and organize resources for the people at our centre. They need to be able to have access to them without the worries that they may one day disappear. I get that. And when I am putting a lot of energy into a search for resources I want to make sure they are somewhere that can be found in the future.

    (one could argue about the transient nature of web-based resources to begin with, that they are all renewable in the sense that they change at a propulsive rate. And that the web search itself is a thinking tool so a collection of resources may not be the holy grail that people are looking for…)

  2. In The Reason I Just Deleted my Pinterest Account, Jeff Dunn talks about copyright issues and how Pinterest is saving its butt by pushing all consequences to the user. Now, I think this actually makes sense. Pinterest is just a vehicle and users should be aware of stealing images from others but many users aren’t. And no one reads the terms and conditions of registering for online services. They just don’t. So I’m wondering how many people know that they could get sued by Pinterest if anyone comes after Pinterest with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

    Even though I think it makes sense, at the same time the very nature of the service Pinterest offers encourages copyright infringement. And that makes this all pretty shifty to me.

    (once again, one could argue about copyright and copywrong, about who information really belongs to once it makes its way out of our heads and into the world but in the meantime, copyright infringement lawsuits are very real and costly things.)

  3. Again, when I was putting together that post I reference at the top of this one about using Pinterest in education I lost a resource and just couldn’t find it again. I had done a search for boards on education, fsl, math, science, literacy, adult ed, learning, etc… and had found one great board of quotes that play with the English language. For some reason I had forgotten to link the reference in my blog post. I had the pinner’s username and I had the name of the board but could not find it by searching on Pinterest. In fact, I had two such cases. One I was able to find with the help of a Google search but the other is still lost in the pinterverse.

    That is what I mean about it being a clumsy service. Even if you know exactly where something is you can’t necessarily find it. I guess the secret to that would be to pin and like everything that you think you may want to see again in the future but you don’t always know, do you?

So. Back to the question – to pin or not to pin? I’m starting to lean to the not. Though I really do like the essence of this service, there is starting to be too much that gets in the way of my using it comfortably. At the least, I’m going to begin double saving the education resources I pin. That may become cumbersome in the long run though, however for now I do like the idea of sharing the resources I find with other educators and looking through the ones that they have already found.

What do you think? Do you pin?

Recent articles, elsewhere

I’ve been writing some articles on Special Education for Examiner.com, thought I’d publish some links to the articles I’ve written so far. Enjoy!

(and I am shamelessly asking for some comments on the articles themselves as I have yet to receive any! :) )

Special education resources in Ottawa and other areas July 4, 2011
Is Ontario properly organized for children’s mental… June 23, 2011
Helping students with special needs to bridge gaps… June 23, 2011
Links: Full-Day Kindergarten in Ontario June 18, 2011
Sam starts full-day Kindergarten this September June 18, 2011
Integration of students with special needs is not… June 17, 2011

Social Networking and Life-Balance, do we even know what that is? Responding to Angela Stockman

**originally published on 2011-02-20 07:51:20**

A long while ago (we’re talking 3 months people!), Angela left a meaty, thought-provoking comment on my post Why are we arguing that social networking does not have neg. effect on school & learning?. I apologize for not having acknowledged it, let alone responded to it, when it was made! The past few months have been a whirlwind of pre-baby/post-partum/new life changes :) At least Laura replied to some of what Angela said in her comment on the original post – thanks Laura!

The whole issue is a mammoth woolly elephant in the chat room, trolling in the background but not allowed to participate. Angela highlighted some key points that I’d like to further underline here.

She asked: Who is teaching kids about this? (social networking and mind/body/spirit balance)

Some people are thinking about this. If I do a quick Google search I find resources like:
Social networking sites: Finding a balance between their risks and benefits from Internet Solutions for Kids.

Minding MySpace: Balancing the benefits and risks of kids’ online social networks from California Schools Magazine

Generation text: Raising well-adjusted kids in an age of instant everything by Michael Osit

Parents: Instead of Banning Your Kids from Social Networks, Consider Teaching Responsible Usage from Managing Communities.

But none of these really address the issue of explicitly teaching kids life balance in an age of social networking. So I refined my search to responsible social networking lesson plan and found a few more things, including:

Responsible social networking – Secondary which has a lesson plan you can download

I’ve been talking about this myself for a while. Here’s a post from 2007, Facing up to Facebook where I wrote,

We need to be teaching kids about the realities of online social networks like facebook, and we need to be helping parents to do the same.

And one from 2008, Implications of Facebook Use. I used the story targeted in this post in my grade 11 classroom that year. I felt that since social networking is part of my teaching and such a huge part of my students’ lives it was essential that I teach about it.

But I didn’t find any explicit examples of teachers addressing the issue of how to balance our lives in an age of such public, 24 hour, social networking as we have now. Perhaps I didn’t look in the right places and perhaps such teaching is happening but isn’t being documented (such as in my example above, where I used something in my classroom but did not write about how I did so). I’d love to see some examples. I don’t mean examples of sites that offer tools to teach responsible and balanced social networking, but examples of teachers actually doing it in their classrooms.

Angela reflected: …it used to be that when social drama fired up at school, kids could find solace at home and experience a bit of a cooling-off period where they were away from the tension.

This begs me to ask, are we providing kids with access to tension-free environments in a time when the social sphere has no boundaries?

And finally, Angela writes: It’s hard to find conversations like these (that look at the positives and negatives of social networking) inside of my network though, and when I start them, most people disengage pretty quickly. Why do you think this is the case?

I think that the implications of the social networking debate is that it has created 2 camps – for or against. As educators and parents we may not understand how to balance our own thoughts and actions to do with social networking. We may also think ‘if I am for social networking, how can I speak out against it?’

Before we can teach about life-balance and social networking we need to know what it is and as long as we don’t allow it to participate in our conversations we won’t, will we?

Social Networking and Life-Balance, do we even know what that is? Responding to Angela Stockman

A long while ago (we’re talking 3 months people!), Angela left a meaty, thought-provoking comment on my post Why are we arguing that social networking does not have neg. effect on school & learning?. I apologize for not having acknowledged it, let alone responded to it, when it was made! The past few months have been a whirlwind of pre-baby/post-partum/new life changes :) At least Laura replied to some of what Angela said in her comment on the original post – thanks Laura!

The whole issue is a mammoth woolly elephant in the chat room, trolling in the background but not allowed to participate. Angela highlighted some key points that I’d like to further underline here.

She asked: Who is teaching kids about this? (social networking and mind/body/spirit balance)

Some people are thinking about this. If I do a quick Google search I find resources like:
Social networking sites: Finding a balance between their risks and benefits from Internet Solutions for Kids.

Minding MySpace: Balancing the benefits and risks of kids’ online social networks from California Schools Magazine

Generation text: Raising well-adjusted kids in an age of instant everything by Michael Osit

Parents: Instead of Banning Your Kids from Social Networks, Consider Teaching Responsible Usage from Managing Communities.

But none of these really address the issue of explicitly teaching kids life balance in an age of social networking. So I refined my search to responsible social networking lesson plan and found a few more things, including:

Responsible social networking – Secondary which has a lesson plan you can download

I’ve been talking about this myself for a while. Here’s a post from 2007, Facing up to Facebook where I wrote,

We need to be teaching kids about the realities of online social networks like facebook, and we need to be helping parents to do the same.

And one from 2008, Implications of Facebook Use. I used the story targeted in this post in my grade 11 classroom that year. I felt that since social networking is part of my teaching and such a huge part of my students’ lives it was essential that I teach about it.

But I didn’t find any explicit examples of teachers addressing the issue of how to balance our lives in an age of such public, 24 hour, social networking as we have now. Perhaps I didn’t look in the right places and perhaps such teaching is happening but isn’t being documented (such as in my example above, where I used something in my classroom but did not write about how I did so). I’d love to see some examples. I don’t mean examples of sites that offer tools to teach responsible and balanced social networking, but examples of teachers actually doing it in their classrooms.

Angela reflected: …it used to be that when social drama fired up at school, kids could find solace at home and experience a bit of a cooling-off period where they were away from the tension.

This begs me to ask, are we providing kids with access to tension-free environments in a time when the social sphere has no boundaries?

And finally, Angela writes: It’s hard to find conversations like these (that look at the positives and negatives of social networking) inside of my network though, and when I start them, most people disengage pretty quickly. Why do you think this is the case?

I think that the implications of the social networking debate is that it has created 2 camps – for or against. As educators and parents we may not understand how to balance our own thoughts and actions to do with social networking. We may also think ‘if I am for social networking, how can I speak out against it?’

Before we can teach about life-balance and social networking we need to know what it is and as long as we don’t allow it to participate in our conversations we won’t, will we?