The moral obligation to prepare students for the outside!

This quote from Scott over at Dangerously Irrelevant.

It was a pass along from an administrator:

The school district is legally obligated to protect our students from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them for the outside.

It's like the picture to the right — if we didn't teach how to drive around a curve in driver's ed. If we didn't teach brakes in drivers' ed, how many kids would hit this wall?


Scott says it well:

“This statement elevates CYA thinking over social justice concerns about technology access/usage and workforce preparation for disadvantaged students. This statement is reactive, not proactive, at a time when we desperately need forward-thinking school leaders.”

Scott's post is dangerously RELEVANT and the comments are incredible!

Preparing our young for their release into “the wild”

This is what I say to that administrator:

If I was preparing to release an animal into the wild, I would slowly acclimate that animal to what it would experience there. For, by coddling, sheltering it, hand feeding it, and giving it everything I would prepare it for a dramatic, sudden and very probable death upon its release.

Which is the greater negligence?

That of creating a slight amount of discomfort before release or that of totally not preparing the animal for life outside of the comforts of captivity.

We see it in nature when mother eagles literally push their young out of the nest to force them to try their wings while under the mothers attentive watchcare.

But they're not in a cage
But kids aren't in a cage — if you don't teach them at school, they go home and teach themselves.

They teach each other how to do things, but in true teenage fashion — never stop to discuss if they SHOULD do those things. That is our job!

With cars, teenagers know how to press the gas pedal, but unless someone teaches them why and when to take their foot off the gas pedal — they will face a probable fiery, death amidst flame, iron, and steel or even worse, take others with them!

Look at all of the resources put into drivers ed. I believe technology education is as important.

And kids don't just “automatically” understand computers — I teach it and I know that there is a big difference between learning how to set up a myspace account on your own and understanding the technological nuances of today's technology-heavy world.

I teach bright, high achieving kids and they don't just “get it.” I have every student at our school for two and a half years at least. (1 semester keyboarding, 1 year computer fundamentals, 1 year computer science) When they get out, they do better in English, math, history and all of their subjects and more importantly — LIFE– because they have had my classes. (And they come back with stories about how they have to “help” many of the others who don't even know how to check their e-mail!)

We have a responsibility
Our job is to get kids ready to be successful adults.

  • People with integrity who will respect their elders.
  • People who know the meaning of hard work and have the empathy to weigh decisions that affect others.
  • People who care and know that it is more important to stand up for what is right than to cave to selfishness.
  • People who consider the plight of the helpless and respond with empathy, kindness, and consideration for their fellow man.
  • People who are tech-savvy, tech-smart, and wise digital citizens and who understand that a misspoken word on the Internet can often destroy like a brick through a window or a baseball bat to the head. But that it can also bring great good and profit!
  • People who understand that the Internet is like the world in which we live — full of good and bad people.
  • People who know how to protect their own privacy and be their own advocate!

Wake up!
This sort of comment from an administrator scares me.

Perhaps there is not a legal obligation to prepare students for the outside, but there is a moral obligation in being a teacher and educator.

If we spent more time eradicating ignorance perhaps there would not be as many predators to eradicate or we would have more watchdogs out there to help us find them!

Doctors promise to do no harm.

Educators should promise the same.

For truly, sometimes, too much shelter will truly harm those about to be released into an untamed Internet world looking for its next unwitting, unwise, uneducated victim.

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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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Ryan Maksymchuk March 22, 2007 - 2:58 pm

Thanks Vicki…I often think that the morality of what we do is probably more important than the curriculum and course content…You don’t know me, but I’ve been ‘blurking’ (is that your word?..) for some time. As a teacher, we sometimes need that re-affirmation of what we’re doing as being meaningful to students who (tongue in cheek) go on to become real people…sorry for the sarcasm. Thanks for all you do…it make a lot of differences to a lot of teachers.

You commented once (about a year ago) on one of my first blogging forays with my students, and I was really quite grateful…Thanks for making a difference.

Ryan Maksymchuk

Karyn Romeis March 22, 2007 - 6:28 pm

“The school district is legally obligated to protect our students from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them for the outside.”

Ah well, in that case, let’s stop teaching them maths, history, chemistry, physics, phys ed, health education, sex education, drivers’ ed… anything that supposedly prepares them for a job, for life. Let’s just turn school into a club where the kids can be left while the parents go out to work!

D. Harter March 23, 2007 - 1:12 am

I completely agree.

I posted on this very issue a few weeks ago after reading an article about how social networking sites were used to slander a law student and she believes that hurt her job interviews.

It’s not about protection at all, but about the imperative that we teach responsible use. To use the driving example, we don’t deny people the right to drive, because it’s dangerous out there. Instead, we teach them how to drive responsibly so that thousands of cars can interact on roads everywhere relatively safely.

It is crazy to think that this administrator believes his job is only to ‘protect’ for the short term that the child is in school. What about at home, or after graduation? Isn’t the best defense, a good offense here? Don’t we ease the danger out there, but continuing to train responsible and safe contributors?

I will even go so far as conjecturing (is that a word) that some of the very students being ‘protected’ by administrator become our irresponsible users and the ones making it dangerous for eveyone else out there.

Socrates did not shield his students from moral discussion, he engaged them in it. Got them to think. Have we really lost that simple concept in a world of litigation?

shoe stretchers March 23, 2007 - 10:59 am

If you were going to buy a golf club, you wouldn’t walk into a store and buy the first one you see, would you? Of course not; especially if you want to improve your golf game! You’ll want to hold the club, take some practice swings, hit some balls if the store has a practice spot, and look at the price, of course. If you are considering buying running shoes, you need to go through a similar process and take the time to find the perfect shoe.

dsgran March 23, 2007 - 5:12 pm

When I was working for a public school in New York I pushed for the removal of the filters on the internet. Teachers were frustrated by finding sites blocked that shouldn’t have been; but worse, its just sheltering the students.

As teachers, we expect that students won’t bring inappropriate material through our computers, just like we’d expect them not to bring it through the front door. The internet is a big part of all our lives now, and using it responsibly is a needed skill.

Unfortunately- I hit a brick wall. It turned out that the state mandated the use of filters in exchange for subsidizing the costs of the internet.

Where do you go from there?

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere