Yesterday, Irving, Texas police arrested 14-year-old Mohammed Ahmed when they and his teachers mistook a homemade clock he had constructed out of circuit boards and wires for a bomb. This despite his repeated denials and attempts to explain his project. Handcuffed. Suspended. Called a liar. All over a clock.
Now it would be easy, and probably appropriate, to suspect at least a pinch of racisim in the mix here. But as was suggested in yesterday’s post, the bigger problem may be a lack of understanding and savvy on the part of the adults as to what’s possible these days with technology.
And Mohammed agrees:
“Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do.”
That just speaks volumes.
And it begs the question, why are we ok with that? We spend boatloads of time and treasure on all sorts of stuff like differentiated instruction and assessment strategies and response to intervention and god knows what other stuff. But we refuse to spend time on making sure that everyone in the building at least has a clue of what’s possible with technology and what kids (and adults) are doing with it. I’m not even talking about getting people to actually make stuff in their classrooms with technology; I’m just suggesting that we understand what’s happening with tech in the real world.
And finally, what does it say about a culture that chooses suspicion over trust when it comes to kids? I know, there are bad 14-year olds out there, but not enough to suggest that we don’t give kids every benefit of the doubt at the start.
Update: The principal’s response.