Respond to Hurricaine Maine’s Quandry

Hurricaine Maine has written a very open discussion about something happening within her control. I think that we need to respond on our various blogs and link back to his article to show multiple perspectives on this topic.

This is a summary of what happened:

Student's viewed Al Gore's Movie, an Inconvenient Truth.

“Back to the movie: One student wrote in his my space about what he felt about the movie and global warming. Not kind, but his opinion. What bothers me is how he reacted when another student tried to clear up some of the misconceptions he had and also asked for an explanation of a statement that he made. She had links, direct statistics from reputable sources, etc. I know it is off of school time, but he reacted by removing her as a friend and deleting her posts. I equate that to the same as saying: “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah – I can't hear you”.

“Maybe I am making too much of it but I am trying hard to get them to be critical of information, receptive of other viewpoints, and be respectful to another viewpoint. Both students are very intelligent, opinionated, but the responder works in class like a citizen.”

The teacher goes on to describe how she is using this as a teachable moment. But what should she teach?

Here is my response:

“Yes, it is a teachable moment, but I think there are several things here to get.

1) Yes, a person has a right to determine what is published on their own blog. So the person who removed her as a friend and deleted her post had the RIGHT to do that. There is a difference, however, sometimes between having a RIGHT and doing the right thing.

2) If a person wants to be considered a CREDIBLE BLOGGER and credible person to converse with, they will allow dissenters on their blog and respond with reasoned, well thought out responses. Remembering, that one can be “friends” and still disagree. Also remembering that it is ok to revise a post (teach them the strike tag which must often be used by hand) or to respond to their own blog in the comments. (I premoderate to make sure my blog is rated G and to remove spam, but work to allow both sides.)

3) To be part of a conversation means that you join in. When one deletes a dissenters comments (especially one that is well thought out and articulate), they then invite a response on the other person's blog. One that may harm their own reputation and cause and voice. And if that happens, there is NO control.

I'd rather have discussion on my own blog any day than that of someone else, because when you're talking about a controversial topic, it is important to remain engaged in the conversation.

4) Enemy today, friend tomorrow.
Often the “friend” or “enemy” status is the result of the topic because rarely do two people disagree (or agree) on everything. We are not carbon copies of one another, nor will we ever be. Rejoice in the harmony or disharmony and understand that it is part of life.

And yes, you are right to continue on this, perhaps the response of some other edubloggers to your blog post will show other perspectives on this important topic.

Just remember, though, when it comes down to it, a blogger has the right to control their OWN blog. And if they choose to be onesided and not open for debate, then that is their choice.

We have to understand that when we read a blogger's web page, that unless they allow dissent, we're only getting one side. And if I only see one side on a bloggers website, I approach with caution. Who wants to waste their time somewhere that free dialog is not allowed?”

I think it is important to highlight that students have a choice in this matter but they need to understand the implications of that choice. They do have a choice of what appears on their blog.

They do not have a choice of what will appear on the blogs of others when they ignore them. (And no one likes to be ignored. He just forced his former “friend” to post on her own blog. Watch out!)

This is out online “flame wars” escalate and it is good to talk through what will happen so that when such decisions are made, students can understand the implications of either path.

What do you think? I'd love your opinions.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Shane Stevens December 15, 2007 - 9:02 pm

As a government teacher who until this year was also a high school computer teacher, I have to agree that this is in fact a wonderful teaching moment; both in the responsible citizen and technology user aspects.

On one hand, it is the prerogative of the blog owner to act, or in this case react, in any manner they see fit. It is, afterall, their personal space. In this regards the things you touched upon Mrs. Davis are 100% accurate, and arguably needed.

On the other, I feel as though this is a perfect example of our societies lack of debate at best, and lack of respecting others opinions at worse. The government educator in me would want to have a controlled and nonthreatening discussion on issues such as personal freedoms and civic responsibilities within my classroom. I would point out that although the 1st Amendment allows the blog owner to delete the post, we as citizens of a democracy must engage in civil discourse.

Ultimately, we as caring and dedicated educators must find a way to balance both personal rights and societal rights, while making the issues meaningful and relevant in every course.

K12 Geek December 16, 2007 - 7:41 pm

>>I equate that to the same as saying: “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah – I can’t hear you”.
Teachable moment? YES!

I think many people have ‘learned’ from certain leaders that this type of response (ignore it because it isn’t what *I* believe) has been deemed ‘highly acceptable’ for the past 6 or 7 years.

It may now take us 15-20 years to teach the reversal — that this type of ‘response’ is not in the best interest of our community.

I like Shane’s approach when moving forward to teach responsible, civil discourse. I hope we can reverse the trend soon.

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