I spent an hour talking with a group of 25 or so sixth graders about what the words “respect” and “protect” mean in terms of technology and children’s online lives. I used Tod Baker’s post about his school’s AUP as inspiration for the lesson. I may write about the actual lesson later, but I was stuck by the genuine questions that were “left circling in my students’ heads.” (I had them record their reactions to the lesson with the three prompts pictured from a summer tweet from #klingsi10.) The following student questions are evidence enough that we need to be rethinking our approach to educating children in the 21st century. We can no longer ignore students lived lives both in and outside of the school walls.
What if someone is harassing you or a friend and it’s uncomfortable to talk about it with an adult?
Why are there bad things on the internet?
If you think of something to write or an idea for a website and then you see that it’s already online, should you delete what you wrote?
If someone who you communicate with online knows who you are and where you live and they start to blackmail you, is it better to keep quiet or tell someone?
How many genuinely good people are out there on the internet? How many bad people?
At the end of the year, I’d honestly rather these kids feel empowered in their online lives and be able to see and understand that the internet is a powerful place for learning than some of the curricular initiatives I know are coming. At a private school, we can balance both. I think.