I could not agree with you more about the need to be proactive rather than reactive. This holds true for us as educators but it is also true for us as parents. As the parents of two teenagers, a high school senior (boy) and freshman (girl), I witness both as a parent and as an educator the world they live in both online and in the physical world.
Whether it be their actions online or their choices in response to great temptations in their daily world, I find that as an educator AND a parent I must know more of their worlds, model how to live in those worlds, and ask them to critically think about how they behave in those worlds. The days of "I trust you son/daughter/student" to make good choices" and sending our kids out onto the streets or the Internet without helping them understand those worlds and hold them accountable in those worlds is gone.
A crisis in the Middle East, Montana, Mexico or Madrid is now live streaming news on a student's computer. A note passed in class is now a message on an 'open' wall viewed by hundreds or thousands of people across countless communities. An assignment for Social Studies is now an opportunity to
virtually visit another part of the world and to engage with different cultures.
We all want our children to be good, kind and wise. We all want them to understand what is important in life, and to get along with people who at first glance may seem different than those around them... And learn that many similarities bind us together.
That said, in preparing our children, we really must be proactive, forward-thinking and savvy enough to engage in a new world of digital information sharing and communication. We must help students gather, sort, analyze, and create meaning out of multiple streams of information. And we must challenge students to make morally and ethically sound decisions in the era of a Brave New World Wide Web.
Agreed Chris, a proactive approach is required. Our students, the kids, require good exemplars and direction. They have taken to MySpace, Facebook, and other publishing platforms with a passion. Educators and responsible adults need to illustrate how these publishing tools and others such as blogs can be utilised to create communities that give to society, that are productive and helpful. Collaborative communities that benefit society and not wired individualism that seemingly takes from society.
In some ways, I think we are fooling ourselves. As a parent of a teen and two young adults I realize that I have been trying to have more and more control over their lives. I remember riding my bike around town as a kid with all of my friends. Now as a parent, I equip my daughter with a cell phone so she will have not have to wait more than 5 minutes in the wild after seeing a movie with friends. But still, she is connected with friends all the time via text, her laptop, and her Wii. I know I am not alone because many parents I know act like this. So why are we fooling ourselves?