Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Not That Easy

You've heard about Facebook, I suppose. I have and have even glimpsed it in operation, but I have yet to sign up. As Thesha says, she and Daboy are on the old side for Facebook, so where would I fit in, I wonder. For I don't suppose that too any of my contemporaries are flocking to the site for me to connect with. However, I will probably succumb sooner or later.

One thing that stood out to me, however, in the article about Facebook that I read in the Toronto Star today was the following sentence: "In fact, educators should seize these opportunities to teach students about both the benefits and drawbacks of social media, while encouraging them to use the tools in positive ways." Like everybody else in the world, I can see the benefit of this, but it rather flummoxes me how glibly people say such things.

As a retired teacher, I still recall not being able to cover the curriculum as it was. I recall the heavy workload and the stress. I recall the job becoming more and more difficult. For example: when I left the job, the teachers in our school were being told that next year they should have eight separate mark lists for each class — eight categories where they could evaluate students. In a perfect world, that would be great, but in an imperfect one, it's a rather ridiculous expectation.

So, exactly who would teach the students the responsible use social media? Would your friendly physics teacher walk into class one day and say, "By the way, I became an expert in Facebook and social media last night, developed a curriculum, and am ready to lead you to the promised land today"? What about working it into the languages curriculum? History? Math? Technology?

Well, of course, it could be worked into a course somewhere. Maybe computers? But not many students really enroll in computer course per se; most computer usage in this jurisdiction at least is actually left up to the various subjects. For example: as a geography teacher I would show them how to use computers to manipulate statistics, construct graphs, and create and analyze maps, but most teachers weren't as up on the technology as I. It's really not an easy thing for most teachers to do; in fact, most students are much more computer savvy than most teachers.

The point is that most curricula are already jam-packed, and most teachers are already frantically pedalling into a stiff wind just to try to keep pace. I'm sure that schools will find a way to teach social media at some point, but there's more to it than someone glibly observing that educators should just up and do it never mind "seize the opportunity." It's simply not that easy.


Gina said...

We place so many expectations on our teachers, yet never provide them with the means to carry them out.

ChrisB said...

Now I have to go and investigate 'facebook'!

Amy W said...

I will have to check out facebook as well.

Yea, I am not really sure what I am getting myself into going into teaching...

karla said...

I didn't understand the frenzy with facebook, but I bit the bullet and signed up anyways. And you know what? I still don't understand what the big deal is.

Arctic Fox said...

Although I am not presently teaching in Ontario I have tried to keep up to the changes made to the curriculum. I came across something interesting that was added to the Languages curriculum document - Teachers have to teach "Media Literacy".

I found the following in the Grade 6 section:

Responding to and Evaluating Texts
1.3 evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation and treatment of ideas, information, themes, opinions, issues, and/or experiences in media texts (e.g., evaluate the coverage of the same news item in a newspaper article, a segment of a news program, a website, and/or a blog; evaluate the effectiveness with which themes are developed, supported, and illustrated
in a movie or music video)

I thought it was interesting that blogs were mentioned.

Something I do think is important to discuss, although it's not part of curriculum, is Internet safety and "netiquette". So many of my students (grade 6) give out their home phone number and other private information on their personal web pages (they use Bebo). No one else will teach them, so as an educator and compassionate human being, I feel it is my responsibility to do so.

KGMom said...

You are so right that the curricula is already overloaded. I bridle when I hear someone say--why don't they teach XYZ in school. I want to say--do you realize how much is already demanded?
And here in the US we have this nonsensical No Child Left Behind law, and we are seeing teachers teaching to the test--because the school's future rests on test scorers. Oh no, here I go--I will save the rest for a future blog, maybe.

Dee said...

I have no idea what it is like for those of you who are teaching in Canada but our teachers here complian because they have no real time to teach much of anything as they are constantly preparing kids for all the tests they have to take so they can get federal funds for the school. I think it would be hard for them to find the time to teach 'media literacy' when they are having a problem finding time to some of the other basic classes the way they should.

Dee said...

Oh, I thought I would add that because of my daughter and a young friendd I have been added to facebook but I need someone one over thirty on there to converse with. *s*

thailandchani said...

Have to think about this one a bit. I am familiar with Facebook and My Space but honestly have no interest in either of them. (I'm not a social networking kind of person :)

I wonder why it is that parents are not expected to address these issues with their children?