This is Why I Don't Have Facebook

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Myrisophilist, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Jun 5, 2011

    I'm a pre-teacher candidate/college student but I do not maintain a Facebook account for these very reasons. I would never write derogatory things about my students, but there have been so many cases of misinterpretation that it's not worth the risk. I think this statement sums up my feelings:

    "And a teacher should not lob gratuitous barbs at her students, which contradicts her own professional duty: to teach the skills and habits of democracy. Yes, teachers have a responsibility to transmit the topics and principles of the prescribed curriculum. But they also need to teach democratic capacities -- including reason, debate and tolerance -- so our children learn to think on their own.

    Teachers won't be able to model those skills if our schools and courts continue to muzzle them. But the same democratic imperative also demands that teachers responsibly restrict what they say, just as other professionals do."


    When Teachers Talk Out of School: [Op-Ed]
    Zimmerman, Jonathan
    New York Times 04 June 2011

    IN 1927, a schoolteacher in Secaucus, N.J., named Helen Clark lost her teaching license. The reason? Somebody had seen her smoking cigarettes after school hours. In communities across the United States, that was a ground for dismissal. So was card-playing, dancing and failure to attend church. Even after Prohibition ended, teachers could be dismissed for drinking or frequenting a place where liquor was served.

    Today, teachers can be suspended, and even fired, for what they write on Facebook.

    Just ask Christine Rubino, the New York City math teacher who may soon be dismissed for posting angry messages about her students. Last June, just before summer vacation began, a Harlem schoolgirl drowned during a field trip to a beach. Ms. Rubino had nothing to do with that incident, but the following afternoon, she typed a quick note on Facebook about a particularly rowdy group of Brooklyn fifth graders in her charge.

    "After today, I'm thinking the beach is a good trip for my class," she wrote. "I hate their guts."

    One of Ms. Rubino's Facebook friends then asked, "Wouldn't you throw a life jacket to little Kwami?"

    "No, I wouldn't for a million dollars," Ms. Rubino replied. She was pulled from the classroom in February and faced termination hearings; the case is now with an arbitrator.

    Ms. Rubino's online outburst was only the latest example of its kind. In April, a first-grade teacher in Paterson, N.J., was suspended for writing on her Facebook page that she felt like a "warden" overseeing "future criminals." In February, a high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia was suspended for a blog entry calling her students "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners"; in another post, she imagined writing "frightfully dim" or "dresses like a streetwalker" on their report cards.

    Such teachers have become minor Internet celebrities, lauded by their fans for exposing students' insolent manners and desultory work habits. Their backers also say that teachers' freedom of speech is imperiled when we penalize their out-of-school remarks.

    But these defenders have it backward. The truly scary restrictions on teacher speech lie inside the schoolhouse walls, not beyond them. And by supporting teachers' right to rant against students online, we devalue their status as professionals and actually make it harder to protect real academic freedom in the classroom.

    Last October, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of an Ohio high-school teacher who had asked students to report about books that had been banned from schools and libraries. The exercise wasn't in the official curriculum, and parents had complained about their children reading some of the banned books.

    Three years before that, the courts allowed an Indiana school board to fire a teacher who told her students that she had honked her car horn in support of a rally against the war in Iraq. The reason was the same: she had deviated from the "approved" curriculum.

    Meanwhile, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, state legislatures are moving to restrict or eliminate teachers' collective bargaining rights. That means unions will have a more difficult time defending teachers' freedom of speech.

    So the rest of us need to make a fresh case for why teachers should have this freedom. And the answer starts, paradoxically, with the limits they should impose on themselves.

    All professionals restrict their own speech, after all, reflecting the special purposes and responsibilities of their occupations. A psychologist should not discuss his patients' darkest secrets on a crowded train, which would violate the trust and confidence they have placed in him. A lawyer should not disparage her clients publicly, because her job is to represent them to the best of her ability.

    And a teacher should not lob gratuitous barbs at her students, which contradicts her own professional duty: to teach the skills and habits of democracy. Yes, teachers have a responsibility to transmit the topics and principles of the prescribed curriculum. But they also need to teach democratic capacities -- including reason, debate and tolerance -- so our children learn to think on their own.

    Teachers won't be able to model those skills if our schools and courts continue to muzzle them. But the same democratic imperative also demands that teachers responsibly restrict what they say, just as other professionals do.

    A similar sense of restraint is needed in class as well: although I would fully support a teacher's right to voice an anti-war view, I would not want her to tell the class that it is the only appropriate view. That's indoctrination, not education, and it inhibits the critical thinking skills that democracy demands.

    Outside school, meanwhile, teachers must also avoid public language that mocks, demeans or disparages the children they instruct. Cruel blog posts about lazy or disobedient students echo the snarky smackdown culture of cable TV talk shows. And they're anathema to a truly democratic dialogue.

    Author Affiliation:

    JONATHAN ZIMMERMAN Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of education and history at New York University, is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."
     
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  3. tb71

    tb71 Cohort

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    Jun 5, 2011

    Wow!! I think I missed the majority of these news stories. However, I do have a facebook, but I am very careful of what I post. But I can definitely understand reasons for not having one, too.
     
  4. AZMrs.S

    AZMrs.S Cohort

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    This is sad. I also have a facebook, but I would never post something in outrage against my students. I think you have to be concious of what you are writing and the way that it may be perceived. I can totally understand why one would choose to not have one though...
     
  5. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Wow!. I'm always very careful with what I post on facebook. I've seen some teachers vent about their students but not in any way like these examples.

    After reading this it makes me want to leave out any comments regarding my job.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 5, 2011

    This isn't about Facebook. It's about carrying terrible feelings about one's students and sharing those feelings with others. If you have those sorts of feelings, I suspect that you'll be sharing those feelings even if you don't have a medium like Facebook to use.

    I have a Facebook. I have students on my Facebook. I'm okay with that. If you don't like the idea of a Facebook, don't have one. With these changing times and technologies, though, I think it's unreasonable to ask or suggest that someone avoid social networking. I use social networking sites for many reasons, not the least of which is to maintain frequent contact with my family, which is dispersed around the country. I like being able to share pictures and news withe everyone who matters to me. I'm not going to give that up just because a handful of bad teachers wrote mean things about their students.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I agree, Caesar.
     
  8. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Jun 5, 2011

    I fail to see the correlation between Facebook and posting information about students. Not posting about your students in any identifiable way should be common sense.

    Facebook is a tool that can be misused should people choose to do so. Using it to facilitate keeping in touch with family and friends is a positive thing. It is easy for everybody to use and I know have much better and more frequent contact with all of my Irish family. If any school told me that I could not do that, I would quit.

    How many teachers have blogs? Many even talk or vent about their students. Most of these teachers do it without identifying themselves or their classrooms. I see a pretty big difference there, with most of it being common sense.

    The teachers who were fired for seemingly trivial offenses most likely have a back story. Even in at will states, they need a paper trail to dismiss a non-tenured employee. I'd need more information to comment or have an opinion.
     
  9. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jun 5, 2011

    :yeahthat::agreed:

    Having a Facebook account isn't the problem. Making ignorant or insulting posts on FB is.

    I have an FB account, but rarely ever post anything or update my status. I use it just to keep in touch with friends or family that live far away. I never postanything regarding my school or the students. That would just be ignorant, as well as extremely unprofessional.

    I agree with the author of the article that teachers DO have a responsibility to restrict their own speech if they want to maintain a professional demeanor.

    If you really need to vent, it's best to do it here (where you are likely to receive more support and understanding) or in the privacy of your home....NOT on a social network that everyone can see.
     
  10. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Jun 5, 2011

    Agree!!!
     
  11. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I agree about the "this is why I don't have FB" thing... it's not FB. It's about having the requisite level of common sense. I have FB friends, and while they don't post the level of comment that this teacher (in the article) did... I'm surprised at quite a bit of the stuff they post as it relates to their job.

    I would guess that this teacher was half-kidding about her comment, but I gotta say that it's not uncommon at all to hear teachers make similar comments in conversation (staff lounge).

    It is amazing though, to see grown adults who lack the sense in posting the remarks they post.
     
  12. **Mrs.A**

    **Mrs.A** Comrade

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    Jun 5, 2011

    As a teacher you should be able to have a facebook account...Just use common sense. Simple as that!!

    People who can say that they hate their student's guts shouldn't be teaching..Period!!
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I live 2000 miles away from my family. Facebook is the primary way I keep in touch with them. While I no longer teach, I still work in an industry where customer privacy is of extreme importance. I have enough sense not to talk about those issues on my FB page. That's the real issue.
     
  14. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    I think with FB people are commenting from the comfort of home where one usually has one's guard down. It is difficult for some to remember to be professional when surrounded by the social atmosphere. Personally, I do not FB, but if I were inclined to do so, it would be with the understanding that if you wouldn't say it in a parent conference or in an assembly, it shouldn't be said. :cool:
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    This really doesn't have anything to do with Facebook.

    People made bad choices long before Facebook and the internet were around, and they'll continue to do so long after they disappear into history.

    Stupidity isn't confined to a single medium.
     
  16. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    :yeahthat:
     
  17. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    OK, so here are a few posts I've made about my students in the last year or so. Many do not directly say they are about my students, but those who know me and know I'm a teacher know what I'm talking about. Posts are unedited in their entirety. Feel free to comment.

    "Their capacity to problem solve greatly exceeds their capacity to follow directions."

    "Accident prone hypochondriacs = bad mix"

    "Was told today by my students that they know how to read now and that I no longer need to teach them."

    "Did NOT intentionally miss catching the fly to right field in the teachers vs 8th grade kick ball game. I really am that uncoordinated."

    "Today ended an 18 year streak of no student ever throwing up in my classroom."

    "Planning the math lesson for tomorrow. 1 imperial pint = 20 fluid ounces. 1 US pint = 16 fluid ounces. How many more fluid ounces does the imperial pint have? The only problem is I need some sort of visual aid for a demonstration. Any ideas?"

    "Once again, the recent rains have caused my school to smell like Altus Oklahoma. What was missing at Altus, however, was creative commentary in very figurative language by six and seven year olds. Those fb friends who have spent time at Altus, please feel free to comment."

    "Words of wisdom from a first grader: 'Hot Cheetos give you diarrhea.'"
     
  18. dibba

    dibba Rookie

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    Exactly.

    And IMO the teacher making the comment about wanting to take her kids to the beach because she hates them and a student recently drowned there SHOULD be fired.

    But that's if she posted on Facebook, Twitter, said it outloud, or wrote a letter to the newspaper saying that.
     
  19. dibba

    dibba Rookie

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    Sarge, nothing you said would (to me anyway) be something you shouldn't have written on Facebook or anywhere else.

    Kind of funny though. :)
     
  20. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Most of these are cute antidotes that most people would find funny, you are in the clear! Your posts aren't mean spirited at all and actually are endearing.
     
  21. miss_ali1984

    miss_ali1984 Companion

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    Sometimes my students and their parents cause me some distress, it's true. But that's my issue, not theirs, and it doesn't make them bad people/kids. I would never, EVER say anything about them in public or private like what was said in the Facebook posts in the article. That's just being a poor teacher and an even worse person.
     
  22. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jun 5, 2011

    exactly!
    You also have to be careful as to who you have friends with on their as well. I had posted one word and only one person messaged me asking me what that was about. I explained and next thing I knew I was being talked to, but not in trouble. I deleted the B off my fb immediately.
     
  23. Born2beTeacher

    Born2beTeacher Rookie

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    I agree that Facebook is not the problem here- it how people conduct themselves on FB (or any other social media or public forum). I personally have a Facebook page, as I find it useful for keeping in touch with my family, and I have in fact used the site for networking with certain colleagues, but I do so with diligence. I keep my information private (wall posts, images etc), and I am careful in who I select to be my "friends"- no parents, no current students (though I do keep in contact with some former students through FB). I would never dream of posting anything demeaning about my students, school or colleagues.
     
  24. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Right. People can do a lot of negative things via numerous methods.

    I have a FB acct in which I'm hardly on it as it is & I sure don't post anything about work/students. If my acct closed this second, I could care less.
     
  25. duncwilson

    duncwilson Rookie

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    Jun 7, 2011

    facebook

    facebook = evil for teachers !!
     

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