What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
~ Tao Te ChingThe relevance of this Taoist profundity for me in relation to questions about who should teach whatwhen about responsible citizenship online is the underlying principle that the one in the position to dowhat is right has the obligation to take the opportunity when it is there. More simply put, all caregiversshare the responsibility for imparting good online habits including protecting oneself and respectingothers; whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. As professionals trained in education and,hopefully, with a well-developed sense and understanding of “netiquette,” copyright, fair usage andthe following of acceptable social norms and how to engender their understanding, clearly a largeportion of this responsibility falls to us. I will make commentary on some online blog posts here whileadding my own viewpoints in order to share my thoughts and tie the piece together as a whole.
“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers
This piece starts off stating that bullying hasn’t really changed. Adding the prex “cyber” to it is, tome, only a reference to the new tools available. Not unlike learning to scribble an unattering image
of a friend in preschool, the technology is an indication of technical sophistication, not a prompt for anti-social behaviour in itself. As my mother so regularly says, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Perhaps more succinctly put by this author however:
If we want to combat bullying, we need to start by understanding the underlying dynamics.
Youth today do not have wildly different values or social norms to previous generations. They do,however, have some evolved linguistic nuances and, as all new generations, some different sharedunderstandings. I found it quite instructive to read that young interviewees were quoted as saying that“...bullying was when someone picked on someone or physically hurt someone who didn’t deserveit [my emphasis].” So there do appear to be rules here already. Our role then, is to understand themand discuss with our students, in language that is meaningful to the students themselves, not justtheir parents, teachers and educational administrators. Again I defer to the author:
A lecture on bullying is going to be completely ignored… either as irrelevant or meaningless to them personally. They don’t see what they’re doing as bullying.
We had best keep in mind also that, “...in all cases, the point is to show who has social power. It’s allabout creating and reinforcing hierarchies.” As stated earlier, the concept remains the same. Teensare merely doing what humans do best; learning in a social context. They are learning from what
they see mentors (adults) do around them. The attention seeking aspect of some bullying further
reinforces the fact that “cyber-bullying” is just a new outlet for an old rite of passage made more publicand further accentuated by mainstream media. I doubt many would argue for a prohibition on literacyif a teacher found a nasty note being passed in class.
Being a Responsible Digital Citizenhttp://www.goodworkproject.org/practice/our-space/
This resource offered an invaluable source of easily-digestible denitions that would add to any
educator’s repertoire of referral documents. It outlines fair use as a legal principle that allows limited