Last week our conversation in class revolved around the theme: The Best(?) of the Rest and I like that Alec and Katia included the question mark in there because I am not sure I am totally convinced that some of the spaces we talked about are “best” at all.
I knew that teens today were active online in ways that perhaps weren’t creating positive experiences. What I didn’t know was to what extent that was happening and how many places they had as an option to participate in such harmful behavior.
When I read Tanith Carey’s piece about teens self trolling I was absolutely blown away. I had no idea that teens were participating in something to negative and self destructive. I couldn’t and still can’t wrap my head around why someone, no matter their age, would feel the need to go online, tear themselves down and wait for others to join in and do the same. In another piece written by Carey she shares the self trolling stories of two young girls who’s lives were drastically changed and sadly one ended because of self trolling and others who joined in. She shared that although one of the girls never actually physically harmed herself she, “used words instead of razor blades.” This is a powerful statement and one that we need to be concerned about. I am not sure there is an answer of how to stop this but I think there is an important conversation that needs to be had in education.
Students are going to find spaces to be online and there is absolutely no way around that. Want to have your world rocked a little? Check out the articles about 4chan and YikYak. I checked out both of these and I do want to warn you ahead of time, if you haven’t been there before, to click cautiously. There were some alarming and quite honestly disturbing posts that I came across. I thought I was kind of in the know about online spaces and places to be. Well last week I learned quickly that I really have no idea. There are so many options and spaces for people to be. It’s actually quite scary how readily available things are to pretty much anyone that has even the smallest bit of computer sense.
We also talked about memes last week and I think this is an online space/activity that educators can use as a way to begin to engage students in a world they are living in every day! Who doesn’t love coming across a meme that actually makes you laugh? A few people have shared some great ways they are using or have seen meme’s used in classrooms and I love this! Check out this tweet @Danielle_Goss shared about a teacher using memes for classroom expectations:
— Danielle Gossard (@Danielle_Goss) March 1, 2016
I have spent some time trying to think how I might bring them into my grade 2 classroom but haven’t found that space yet. Maybe there is one, maybe there isn’t? I am not too sure about that yet!
There is no denying that education is in a constant state of change and I would argue that it is imperative that digital identity and being a digital citizen need to become required pieces of every classroom and I think Ontario is taking steps in the right direction with their new sex ed curriculum. This is something that students are going to benefit from in the long term. Perhaps if we remove the idea of it being someone else’s responsibility and start to think about teaching students how when they are online, and in person, to think positively about themselves, seek help in healthy ways, build each other up, engage positively with others, work to help make someones day brighter and value themselves we might begin to make the changes that our students need.
We could all possibly benefit from taking a lesson or two from a very bright young man who goes by the name Kid President!