The digital citizenship discussions have been intriguing and have been teaching me quite a bit. The issue I deal with is whether or not, digital citizenship be taught formally in schools. I”m more convinced that social virtues, as some might call them, are best taught in context. I’m not sure whether one can be taught these virtues or morales in isolation nor should they. While there is certainly an information piece connected to the technologies, it’s mostly about making wise choices and it’s difficult to do this outside of the real world. Just as technology ought to be used and taught in context, I think the same is true of character. The best context is a model of practice and lifestyle that is transparent.
Which is likely the reason for things like this and this. Because most teachers do not practice or engage in the same kinds of online activities which for the most part is social networking, it’s going to be difficult for them to model. In addition, they likely don’t consider it a relevant topic of discussion amidst the daily work load they already face.
Which leads me to my title, can a fat man teach physical education? Perhaps, but if the goal is to help students lead healthy,active lifestyles, it seems like a hard sell. It would have the same result as a tone deaf music teacher or an illiterate English teacher. If we’re really concerned about teaching our students to make moral, ethical choices online, teachers need to have some experience that can at least validate discussions and suggestions. Stephen Downes recently chimed in on one of my discussions:
But I think even the students will see through the directed curriculum when taught by a teacher that has never set foot online.
So whether we choose to formalize the teaching or not, it may not even matter. You can go ahead and ask every teacher to teach these principles and the results will be limited, if not damaging. Without credibility we’re just blowing hot air. So rather than jurisdictions making these types of requests, I prefer this response from Regina Lynn of Wired Magazine:
All adults who work with youth should be aware of how young people communicate, fall in love and stay connected; I encourage teachers to try social networking services, to have a blog, to text message with their own families and friends. Experienced teachers will not only gain a better sense of the world their students live in — indeed, a world their students are creating — they will have a greater understanding of the young teachers entering the profession.
I think I answered my own my question.