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Pandora’s Midden…

October 24, 2006

Pandora (n) – Opened the box…

Midden (n) – Scottish word for a mess…

What do we do once the box has been opened? It’s very easy to talk and write about the impact of cyber-bullying, but as I have been finding out, the reality is much more messy.

Some of our pupils have been filming each other on their mobile phones and passing the clips around. Unfortunately, some bright spark thought it would be funny to put some of the clips on YouTube… at which point all hell broke loose. Some of the pupils complained to their parents, the parents contacted the police, the school have been left to try and mop up the aftermath…

There is no point trying to pretend that pupils are not going to do the things I’ve outlined. It is in the nature of children to push the boundaries and to do so without considering the consequences of their actions. They’re just “having a laugh”. However, what I do feel it shows is the importance of educating pupils as soon as possible about the consequences of their actions, and we need to do so as soon as they start their formal schooling, and this is an area where I fear we are failing them.

It’s become an issue like the vexed question of when we should start sex education classes… when should we start teaching pupils about the web?

This is not one where we can leave it to the parents. I know it’s a cliche, but the pupils that are already computer literate can usually run rings around their parents on the PC… so that means it is up to the teachers. Which in turn, leads to a couple of uncomfortable questions for us as educators:

  1. Do we have the necessary skills to teach the pupils what they need to know?
  2. Are Education Authorities willing to allow us access to the programmes that we need to be teaching the pupils about?

http://learnerblogs.orgI’ve been encouraging my classes to sign up on LearnerBlogs and am incorporating blogging into my classroom teaching, but I am surprised and disappointed at just how much basic safety advice I am having to give the pupils…

So, what do we do next? Should we be pressuring the Scottish Executive to introduce more lessons in online safety at an earlier age? When should we start teaching pupils? And should we be looking to find ways of educating the parents lest they end up blaming the schools when a pupil uploads material to a website?

I’m open to suggestions.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2006 9:02 am

    I have just stumbled accross your excellent musings and I am encouraged that such a debate is beginning in the UK. As a parent that will one day have rings run around me, I am keen to help while I still can.

    I am trying to find out about any initiatives that may be attempting to address the problem of parental responsibility and possibly online safety from a kids perspective…

  2. October 25, 2006 2:53 pm

    Hello W

    I hate to be a clype; but that’s no’ what midden [n] means – despite metaphorical comparisons by scots mothers over the years!

    Are teachers any more effectively able to keep up with kid’s IT skills than parents? I hope so, but suspect not; apart from IT fiends like yourself.

    All technological advances bring danger – the difference in our world is that most danger is now focused on children. As various historical vulnerabilities deminish , disease, illiteracy, class and poverty it seems we are left with a whole – well,Pandoras Box – of problems that we pretty much leave them to deal with.

    I wouldn’t be a teenager now if you paid me.

    Be happy


  3. October 25, 2006 8:00 pm

    Personally, I think there should be a “test” before you’re allowed anywhere near a computer that has access to the internet. Maybe something with questions like “Find and compile the linux kernel, then insert the Binary file here”. I’m sure that would get rid of most of the people on the internet, and it would therefore be a better place (Oh, how I wish the internet was just UseNet and IRC again 😥 ).

  4. October 26, 2006 12:07 am

    This is a monster resource on the subject

  5. October 29, 2006 3:02 am

    Start young and be open with the discussions. I’ve been using netsmartz. Also, when you have the first issue, deal with it sternly as if it occured on campus and you’ll find future occurences to not be as much of a problem. People tend to panic when they feel that they have lost control!

  6. October 30, 2006 6:50 pm

    David – Thanks for the link… as you say it is a monster! I also like the Thinkuknow site. I think we, as educators, sometimes feel that it is the parents we need to be educating just as much as the children we see.

    Vicki- I agree completely with you and indicated as much in my post. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that (perhaps) those who understand the issues better, and can make a difference are rarely in a position to effect that change… This will change, but I fear it may be too slowly to keep up and end up being too little, too late, and focussed on all the wrong things…

  7. November 3, 2006 2:37 pm

    I often pontificate on these issues from the safety of Jordanhill’s green towers but it is clearly a different matter when you are caught up in the middle of it and having to deal with the aftermath. Unlike Drew, I think I could cope with being a teenager now… but I don’t think I would be a Guidance teacher now if you paid me. 🙂

    I suppose the only upside is that the bullies can hardly deny their involvement when they are in the video and they posted it to YouTube! (In fact I think you would be justified in saying to them, “You tube!”

  8. November 3, 2006 3:02 pm

    In fact I think you would be justified in saying to them, “You tube!”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… Thanks for giving me a genuine giggle last thing on a Friday! This is such a good gag I’m now thinking of a post I can use it on/in!

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