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Crossing the line and blogging. What crosses the line?
Edited December 8 2005:
As with most things like this in middle school, there are 2 sides to every story. I spoke with all the girls teachers, and learned this is only one side of the story. So now we find ourselves in the curious situation that everyone finds themselves in 2005. Evaluating and assessing information is as much of a skill as finding and creating information.
I had such an interesting incident which happened this morning in computer class. This entry is largely taken from an email I sent to our assistant principal, principal, guidance counselors, and classroom teachers.
1) We have just finished our blogging lessons. A blog is a “web-log” in which students can post an idea or opinion about a topic. We have several blogs, you can find them by clicking on this address: http://www.edgartown.mv.k12.ma.us/index.php/teachers/bmackenty/
2) One of the students wrote the following blog post on the “Girls Sports Blog”. She wrote it about a week ago.
I was going to do basketball because I really like basketball but…. I couldn’t because i have some other responsibilities and the coach wouldn’t compromise!</p>
<p>It all started when there was basketball tryouts. I asked the coach if the kid I could bring home everyday could go to practice because his parents said it was ok.</p>
<p>If he went to games and practices with me and then the coach said he could stay at practice and she said no and then come to tryouts so that is what I did. </p>
<p>Then when we got into the season she kicked me off the team because I bring this little boy home everyday. She wouldn’t compromise and it got me really annoyed because I was doing what she said and I brought him home. Then when I reminded her that he can stay there whiles I was there she still wouldn’t compromise that is very unfair. Something needs to change.
3) Later in the week, 2 other girls deleted her post. They openly acknowledged they had done this. I learned of this from the girl who wrote the post, who informed me during class today.
4) This incident brought forth an utterly fascinating conversation about opinions, slander, censorship, and rudeness.
5) Here is what I told the girls who deleted the post:
- What you did was wrong. You are not in trouble, but we should never disallow someone to share their opinion or idea just because we don’t like it. You removed the other girls voice, which is not ok.
- You acted with noble and honorable intentions. You like your coach, and didn’t want to see some unpleasant things written about her. You should be proud of your loyalty.
- Another way we could of dealt with this is by leaving an appropriate comment on the post. Challenge the idea, not the person. This is the very nature of intelligent discourse
6) The girls who deleted the post heard me, and seemed to be ok for the remainder of class (they were motivated and interested in the lesson which followed).
7) The entire class discussed this incident. Many questions were raised about what is rude, and what constitutes slander and innapropriate activity. There seemed to be general agreement about what was ok and not ok, although there was some “gray area” discussion.
8) I gave permission to the girl to re-write her post, and post it on the Girls Sports Blog. I am utterly fascinated to see what happens next. I think we have a genuine learning opportunity here. We can teach these kids to disagree and even argue with other without being rude or spiteful.
9) I am especially aware of cyber-bullying. I will be keeping my eye on this.
10) Of course, the most important issue is what should the girl do about her basketball coach?