I was moved. I so identified with the ideas and feelings he expressed.
I'm sorry, I see the benefits, but it appears that giving kids access to the Read/Write web is like putting a loaded pistol in their hands without education. And, how many kids have to be bullied online before everyone wakes up (no, not you edubloggers...the other people who haven't read your blogs) and realizes that digital citizenship, that education is the only way?
I remember I watched a documentary on automobile safety once. It emphasized the problems this innovation had in the beginning before they had figured out the rules and regulations of driving. Lots of people died and were hurt. Because this was a new technology (cars) they had to figure out what to do to keep folks safe as things happened. Mistakes were made. Rules were rethought. Lives were saved.
I have four kids. The youngest is 18. I have taught them all to drive. As they showed responsibility, I let them have their own car. I also let schools help educate them about driving and to practice driving with them. But I never relinquished my primary responsibility in determine when they were ready. For one of my children that was at 16 and for another it wasn’t until 18. And now, I still ride with them occasionally and gently coach from the side. Because like the Web, cars can be dangerous places.
The point being, as a society we didn’t just say-- look this car thing, yeah it has great potential, but at what cost? Folks who championed the cause saw it through and did what they could to protect and educate along the way until they got it worked out.
My Space. What a mess. I have one daughter there who is 24 and we have an ongoing conversation about what is appropriate and why online. She is an adult, but I still coach her through this Wild West Web. I have a My Space account. So should you. I model responsible use. And those who I am trying to influence think I am cool to be there. It serves as a cultural identifier that let's me have a place at their table and enter into their conversations.
My second daughter and son have bailed from My Space and they are using Facebook, this in some ways is much better. At least many of the pictures of past students I am finding are less sensual and the conversations are usually about their studies in college. There are abuses there too, but it seems to be less.
My youngest daughter, 18 who still lives at home, has chosen to avoid both. She blogs on Live Journal and not as often. However, she can text message and uses her Ipod like there is no tomorrow. It was her choice not mine, and her friends rag her for it all the time. I am so proud of her for taking a stand.
Miguel thoughts continued to resonate...
As an ed-tech admin, I can sympathize...I want to turn off the Web at school and home. I have to fight that urge. It's too simplistic a response...it's too late to do that. We have to move forward, painful as the journey is and will become.
I also wish at times we could just turn it all off. Just as I wished they never had to drive. As parents and educators it is natural and right to want to protect our children and students. But rather, our job is to teach them to use the tools they need to survive in society in the safety net of our homes and schools, so that when they step out to use these tools unsupervised they will be discerning.
It is mentally overwhelming. I remember when they placed that first child in my arms thinking, “How will I ever do this all right?” I had a similar reaction my first day in the classroom. But if not us, as their parents and mentors, then who? We cannot simply give up. We have to go where they are and model and coach. We have to be consistent. We have to care deeply and remember that for some of the students we teach, we are the only significant adult with which they will ever have meaningful conversations around this topic.
We teach students to not run with scissors, to not talk to strangers, and to travel safely in a 5000lb lethal weapon. We can teach them to be safe and healthy on the Web.
Thank you fellow educators for all you are doing to help make this realty. Working together we can each make a huge difference for the students on our watch. And who knows? We just might hit the "Tipping Point" in our lifetime. In the meantime, we are helping to champion the rules of the road, much like they did at the onset of the automobile.