In Public Spaces - Birds of A Feather Facebook Together

What kind of redemptive intimacy are you prepared to offer?

Terminator 3 - Redemption
- Source:

Recently, Vicki "CoolcatTeacher" Davis wrote the following:
The PROBLEM I have is point number three in Sue's edublogger article: 
"Despite what you may hear, there are strong privacy options that you can set up so only those that you want can access your information" 
The primary problem as I maintained in Facebook Friending 101 is NOT you. Although there are educators who post innappropriate things on their walls all of the time, MOST of you IF you are using it with your students are not. These privacy options ARE NOT ENOUGH for the scenarios I've presented.
Here's the response I left in the comments:
Vicki, thanks for your post. The real problem is that 1) Individuals still think they can act one way in private, another in public online...and there's no division between the two; 2) We think we can tolerate that kind of behavior from those we associate with. Think of it this way..."birds of a feather facebook/tweet together." (smile) 
My policy, which appears to work but still results in occasional moments of embarassment when I notice it, is to unfriend anyone who uses profanity and does stuff that I don't want to have associated with me. I encourage my children to do the same.Is that enough? I fear we live in a place that isn't sanitized, linking/connections are desirable, and sometimes, those links will be inappropriate. This is why appropriating adult communication tools for use with K-12 students will always be bleeding age and problematic. Yet, this is real life and we must model appropriate behavior. Thanks for working hard to clarify the path ahead for adult learners.
Others, like Dean Shareski, suggest an "accept and forgive approach." And, that's not unreasonable is it? Why should we make our "friends" conform to our morals and standards for behavior in virtual spaces? The truth is, if *I* were cursing and carrying on, even if it were me just being who I am, wouldn't I be "cast out" or would I be forgiven?

Many people object to bad language and it is not acceptable for general use. Someone who habitually swears shows that he lacks vocabulary and is unable to get his meaning across without swearing. Swearing at work makes a worker sound unprofessional. The workplace is a public space. (Source: Profanity in Work Communications)
In truth, in today's school climate, being cast out rather than forgiven would be the response considered most appropriate. Not only would you have the onus of cursing in front of children,but you would also have the issue of cursing in a public space which could cause considerable distractions in your workplace. What would parents think of a teacher or educator caught cursing in a public space in front of children? It's certain that students cursing in school may be fined.
Walking through town on most days you'll hear them cursing and swearing, practically every second word is a four letter expletive and in my opinion there's absolutely no need for such language.  It’s not just the boys that swear, the girls are just as bad if not worse.  I happen to think there is nothing less attractive than hearing a young "lady" cuss and utter such obscenities....Source: Swearing in Public Places is Unacceptable

Vicki makes a follow up comment to Dean's where she cites being a Christian. As she points out, being a Christian means being an imperfect work in progress, redeemed by God's grace and sacrifice. That means, I wouldn't necessarily look to fellow Christians as being the source of forgiveness. A man on death row may accept Christ and be redeemed, but he is still subject to the laws of the land, the consequences for his actions.

And, some consequences should be avoided in school and in life. Frankly, cursing is one of those. There are many topics that should be avoided in school.

...some general actions and gestures to avoid as an ESL teacher in a multicultural class:
  • Swearing
  • Touching students
  • Eating or chewing gum in class
  • Embarrassing students
  • Pointing
  • Holding eye contact for a long period of time
  • Standing very close to a student
As an educator with ESL background, do you think I'd ever introduce swearing as a topic in my classes?

In truth, many of the people we "friend" online aren't really true-blue friends. I can count true-blue friends on one hand, but imagine making "acquaintance" a verb like Facebook has done so successfully. Our desire for social interaction, for the new ideas engendered by those interactions, well, those aren't necessarily the acts of friends but of others we have decided to learn from.

In the end, that is the fundamental difference for me. The people I friend--no matter the social network--are people I'm willing to learn from, people who are sharing ideas and information. If I want my children to learn anything, it's that learning is 24/7 endeavour. There will be some people who will help them achieve that, and there will be others who won't. If you're not a "sharer" then I'm not sure I want to be your "friend." If you're someone who curses, who acts dangerously and irresponsibly, then let's back up and hit the BLOCK button. If you're a rumor-monger, so be it.

Since Vicki's introduced spirituality, let's remember that we are called to be a counter-culture to a world culture caught up in a self-centered perspective that is money-oriented, focused on marketing, and more. Ah, thank goodness for Google, I was able to find the quote without reaching for the book on my shelf:
As Church, we form a counter culture to our world, but a counter culture of a most ironic sort. We seek not to coerce and badger our neighbors, but to live our lives of intimacy in trusting openness to them, always hoping that they may see in us something of the 'parable of God' and finally get the point of it all."
Source: Dick Westley, Redemptive Intimacy 
Live our lives of intimacy in trusting openness...if a Christian approach is desired, how will the parable of God manifest itself in our use of Facebook and other social media?

When Dean Shareski introduces the idea of forgiveness, we are introducing an idea that goes against the grain. Before we involve children we serve in schools--especially public schools--we have to first ascertain whether the values we hold dear are those of the middle of the road, we'll back you up part of the community. If they are not, then unemployment is the price you may pay. 

That's not to say unemployment is a horrible price to pay for serving as a lighthouse in the fog of fanatic Facebook false friend frenzy, but you have to ask yourself, is that the price you are prepared to pay?

Facebook has grown to be a fundamental tool for communication, as have others. Schools must develop a structured approach to Facebook use. There must be recognition, though, that this approach will always be conservative until the Community grants the school permission to deviate from what is "socially acceptable." The time is coming when every student will be allowed to use Facebook on their mobile device at school, and friending students will be widely accepted...but that time will be unique to each culture and society.

If you equate revolutionary/evolutionary teaching that is edgy, wonderful with the use of social media in schools, then you may need to take a step back and ask yourself if schools are the right place for you to advocate this perspective.

Maybe, we need to reflect on Doug Johnson's words from his blog entry, The Technology Agnostic below....

Now I’d never dream of trying to convince a jihadist not to have faith in his virgins nor separate a political pundit from his bleak cynicism. Such attempts would be fruitless if not immoral. But I will try to persuade as many readers as possible that  as conscientious educators we better serve our students by being skeptics than evangelists.
Yes, share what works. If a technology use engages and motivates students; if it helps make them better communicators or problem-solvers; if it even, heaven forbid, helps them do better on tests, we should document and share these experiences.
“Documentation,” however, needs to be more than a simple story. Stories indeed can be powerful, but stories alone will not persuade us skeptics.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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