Alec Couros’ post on digital citizenship makes some valid points, but I’m not convinced that a few examples of really vile content and lazy practice are reasons to think that the concept of citizenship is in some way fundamentally shifting. But I also don’t fall all the way to the Tom Hoffman side of the fence that says citizenship is little more than what many (though not Tom) would call information literacy.
What rings most true, however, was Stephen Downes’ comment about Tom’s post where he says, simply,
The vile content – and it most certainly is vile – is neither new nor original. And it’s not the kids that are creating it.
The fact is that we have been conditioned to see the worst at the expense of the best, primarily by a media that is always on the lookout for the lewdest, awfulest, stupidist behavior of our cultural icons. A media that then inculcates a connection between crass insignificance and news. And, perhaps to that extent at least, Tom is right. If we teach ourselves and our kids to simply stop and use these “five habits of using one’s mind well,” we’ll get a long way down the citizenship road.
- How do we know what’s true or not true? How credible is our evidence?
- Is there an alternate story? Perspective? How might this look from another viewpoint?
- Is there a connection between x and y? A pattern? Have I come across this before?
- What if… supposing thatâ€¦? Could it have been otherwise if x not y had intervened?
- And finally, “who cares”? Does it matter? (And, perhaps, to whom?)
Especially the last one.
But I also believe that citizenship suggests more than critical thinking. It requires participation and action. It requires contribution. And the ways in which even our kids can contribute in this environment and the global scale those contributions now have do change the equation. And most importantly, let’s not forget that a lot of kids are creating and contributing and participating in ways that should make us very proud. For instance:
A ten-year old girl in upstate New York who starts a blog Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference that in just a week’s time has caught the interest of a whole bunch of kids from around the world who want to make a difference too.
Or the imminent launch of a network of student bloggers from around the world:
Students 2.0 Launch Teaser from Sean on Vimeo.
Or, though it’s not directly related to kids, the uber alternative to vile (religious music aside):
(Add your own examples below…)
Point is, there is a lot of good stuff out there too. And not that that fact is new or original, but there are a lot of kids who are doing it, and in the process, learning citizenship. And at the end of the day, if we really want to help our kids become good citizens themselves, the best we can do is to use our own minds well and model our own participation wherever and whenever we can.
Corrie Bergeron says
“…the uber alternative to vile (religious music aside):”
Will, I certainly hope you’re not in any way suggesting that the song in particular (or that religion in general) is “vile.” Because the sentence reads a little ambiguously.
As you can see at the link below, “I can Only Imagine” was selected by the Hoyts themselves: http://www.teamhoyt.com/ordering.html
You are quite correct, though, that the answer to “bad speech” is to drown it out with “good speech”.
Even if you don’t care for the soundtrack. 😉
Tom Hoffman says
That’s not exactly what I meant…
Will Richardson says
Corrie–In no way did I mean to imply that the music or religion is vile. I’m saying the video and the story it represents is the antithesis to the vile stuff that Alec was reffing in his post. I personally think the story stands on its own even without the musical story in the background.
I think one big step towards cyber-citizenship is when anonymous postings are outlawed. I beleive that the ability to snipe, flame, inflame, behind the veil of being “unknown” compels many who would not ordinarily be that way to someone’s face be particularly nasty because no one knows who they are.
I did a post on this last week on my blog called “Stand Behind Your words”
Corrie Bergeron says
Will, thanks for the clarification. Having read your stuff for a long time and co-facilitated a workshop with you, I didn’t *think* you’d gone off the deep end. 🙂 The Hoyts’ faith is an integral part of their story. However, there are certainly videos of them that don’t contain an overt religious message.
Barry, you have a point, but anonymity has its place. It protects the nasties, sure (at least they think it does). But it also protect those who might be real, physical danger should their names (and addresses) be tied to their words.
You can delete *online* flames.
you may find the archives of this recent symposium @ wayne state university interesting
Neil Winton says
Great to see you picking up on the Student2.0 site. I really hope it lives up to its aims… I think they have the potential.
I don’t know if you’ve found Sean’s blog yet. Here are a couple of great posts that demonstrate where I think some of the Student2.0 blog will be coming from…
I wholeheartedly approve of your five-step ‘intro to critical thinking,’ as it were. But do you ever feel that we’ve gone too far in the process of presenting both sides of every argument?
As a liberal arts graduate, I do firmly believe in the subjectivity of ‘truth’ in many cases, but I’ve found the division of today’s public discourse into separate camps to be quite detrimental. As an example, I’m thinking of the way the MSM presented the global warming debate in the past few years, always bringing in ‘experts’ from both sides, even though sound science and sheer numbers made it abundantly clear that global warming has been a real and man-made problem for years.
At the risk of falling prey to Godwin’s Law, I think I’ve heard journalists refer to this as ‘presenting Hitler’s side.’ Especially in a society where a thousand nuances of experience and opinion are out there for consumption, where do we draw the line at ‘presenting every side’?
sylvia martinez says
It probably should be noted that the “five habits of mind” is from Tom quoting Deborah Meier on her blog, Bridging Differences. She was summarizing what she called a “rough, unfinished attempt”… “of an effort to describe the essential responses of adults in their vocation of citizenship” based on the principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools, which she helped found.
Hopefully this provides some context.
Gary Stager says
Meier’s Habits of Mind were originally published in her 1995 book, “The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem.”
Ted Sizer’s Horace Trilogy, beginning with “Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School” are must-reads as well for anyone serious about moving schools forward.
Dennis Littky’s book, “The Big Picture: Education is Everybody’s Business,” is another book I can’t recommend often enough.
Books are good…
Chris Craft says
Now see, Will, that would have been a perfect spot to embed an episode of Scavenger Hunt for Spanish from http://www.teachjeffspanish.com to show that kids are perfectly able to create solid content with little to no teacher meddling (I say that tongue-in-cheek). And it would have saved the religious debate! 😉
Don’t forget my 6th graders trying hard to teach Jeff Corwin some Spanish!