There is a growing backlash in some communities and states wanting to forbid teachers from using social networking and text messaging to communicate with students. Based on the argument that online “friending” crosses the appropriate boundary between teacher and student, these communities are proposing laws that would forbid it.
What do you think? You can vote below.
I think we are killing the messenger (or the medium) when the real problem lies with a few bad teachers who have taken advantage of their position to have illegal (i.e. sexual) relationships with minors. Just because most of the teacher/student sexual relationships that have hit the news also involve online communication, does not warrant condemning the social networks themselves. Any high school science student should know that correlation does not imply causation. Or in simpler terms, we want to keep the baby and just toss the bath water.
Here are a few of the developments that prompted this post. Per CNN Missouri House Representative Jane Cunningham sponsored a bill that would ban Missouri elementary school teachers from having social-networking friendships with their students. And the Lamar County School Board in Missouri has “implemented a policy forbidding teachers and students from having any text-message conversations or social-networking friendships.”
I, however, think that social networking platforms can be a great tool for student-teacher communication. Because the kids are already using the medium, and it simply gives teachers another way to do their job.
Yes, it can be tricky drawing the appropriate line between public and private, but everyone who uses the Internet (email, blogs, online comments, social networking, social bookmarking, photo sharing) has to grapple with this issue. And these lines are blurring for everyone. Remember Stacy Snyder, the student who was denied a teaching certificate because of a caption on a MySpace picture?
These tough issues will not go away. But I think that legislating our way out of them is the wrong approach. Let’s keep the lines of communication open.
Here are some of the articles referenced in this post:
Please vote in this poll, and leave a comment with your thoughts below the poll.