The real tragedy of MySpace is not what kids are doing on it. The tragedy is that the backlash over MySpace, born of fear and lack of understanding, is destroying a golden educational opportunity.
The net effect of the paranoia surrounding MySpace is that any and all social networking opportunities are being blocked by school districts - at an increasingly alarming rate. It's so easy. Flip a switch and Flickr is blocked, another one, and all blogspot domains are blocked. At a time when teachers should be clamoring to use the new tools, school districts are reinforcing fear among teachers and the public and making it next to imposssible for teachers to use them. There is no education going on around this. Just the preaching of fear.
The tragedy is the rapidly growing polarization between schools and the real worlds of students.
The tragedy is that our kids are missing a wonderful opportunity to learn.
The tragedy is that the politics of fear once again trump enlightenment.
What to do? I don't know. Shouting back doesn't work, teachers are in a position of weakness to begin with. Speak our minds on a blog? - well sure, if preaching to the choir gets us anywhere.
This is what I will do. I will continue to blog with my third graders - for as long as we are allowed. If we are shut down in a week, a month - whatever - I will feel good that I gave them an opportunity they will always remember. That their eyes were opened to possibility, promise, trust, and responsibility for a while. They will remember that.
Blog in the face of oppression, speak truth to power even though it isn't effective. These acts may not change the environment you're in, but they will change you. And, changing you is all you CAN do. . .it is the most powerful transformation you can model for your children, as well as your students and colleagues.
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