Monday, August 3, 2009

Thing #12 part 1

The discussion of commenting etiquette was very interesting. In a comment on Drape's Takes, Sarah Hanawald said she teaches her students that "behind every post and comment [is] a real person." I think this is a key issue. All forms of distant conversation (from the telephone on up) require the members to realize that everyone involved is actually a person, with rights, feelings, viewpoints, etc. It's like the psychological problem involving a person on the train tracks and a speeding train. The further we get from the actual human, the easier it is to pull the switch that sends the train to squash them. Some of the commenters on this blog felt there should be no hard and fast etiquette rules, or that "rules" might squash free speech. I disagree. I'm a big believer in the social contract- if you choose to interact with others, you choose to behave civilly. That is a vital lesson to teach our students. Many students at my school do not have an adult model of civil discourse at home. They need as many as we can provide at school.

In coolcatteacher's blog, she brings this up as well- "NEVER: Be sarcastic, rant prolifically, curse, or personally attack a person." When I took logic courses back in college we learned that personal attacks were weak arguments. I've heard it said that excessive cursing indicates a weak vocabulary. Our students need to learn how to disagree appropriately and effectively. Some of the rules we teach children about tattling apply here- "Are you commenting to help someone or are you commenting to get someone in trouble?"

I also really liked what coolcatteacher had to say about the importance of commenting for students. Learning is a social construct, and happens most easily when it is done in a community. We forget that because it can't be tested on a scantron, but our students can't be lifelong learners unless they know how to find or create learning communities for themselves and participate in them successfully (the point of this whole 23 Things, it seems to me).

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