The Suffern Middle School (NY) video(http://e-learning-engagement.blogspot.ca/2009/03/school-internet-policiesprotecting.html), that the young kids made, reminded me that as parents we have our children for a short while, when they want to be like us. And after that, they want to spread their wings and learn to fly on their own – “Believe in me, trust me, take a chance on me, help me get there, don’t be afraid, come with me, leave your comfort zone”. As parents, and as teachers who stand ‘loco parentis’, we just want them to arrive to adulthood as intact as possible. The characteristics that are tagged to the ‘Millenials’ could easily have been said of us when we were young. The technology has changed, but as a whole the personalities have remained the same. There are still bullies and ‘marks’, introverts and extroverts, jocks and geeks, and sad kids and happy kids. Our unenviable task is to remember that they are all individuals and to treat each one as special.
The most important thing I think is to meet the children at their level. For the younger ones, that means the comics and the cartoons would be an excellent place to start. They are well done and they relate well to the primary grades. For the older students, Steve Dotto’s short video presentations on Facebook, sexting, YouTube, smartphones, etc. are appealing, informative, easy to follow, and his style is not preacher-like, with a list of “thou shalt not’s”, but more like – here are the facts “touch a hot stove and you’ll get burnt”, “wear an oven mitt and you’re a happy cook”. The older kids respond well to getting respect, and to being treated as adults. The http://www.childnet.com/young-people/primary has a great set of SMART rules for the younger set, and the http://www.childnet.com/young-people/secondary has 5 top tips for the secondary kids when it comes to safe use of the internet. And at the same site, there are also good tips for teachers. It is as if we are teaching them to drive a car. There are definite safety rules, there’s the law, there’s the insurance, etc., and they will be behind the wheel on their own somwday, but it is still a lethal weapon.
There will be mistakes, but as the young lad said in video, “we’ll try again” . Before 12 years old, they memorize and recite. After 12, they learn to think for themselves, speak for themselves, and take responsibility for their own mistakes. And 12 is just an approximate number. In the video the kids recognized their need for us, for our help, our wisdom, our experience, and our guidance. So we still have a job. Our job is to be ever-learning so that we can be ever-teaching.
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