The Flight of Conversation

After reading Jeff’s post about being “disconnected”, it got me thinking…Then my friend Sara posted this article on her Facebook: The Flight From Conversation.

One thing I have always worried about with using technology in the classroom is how it will affect my students personal skills.  How it will affect their day to day language acquisition (which is a big problem when teaching second language learners). A quote from a 16 year-old boy in this article illustrates this fear: A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”  With less conversation going on outside of school, is it important students learn to have a conversation in school, or is the art of conversation on the way out?  Will students need this skill in the future when acquiring a job or is it becoming obsolete?

Some of my favorite parts of this article:

1)My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done. –talk about multi-tasking! Are you really involved in either conversation if you are trying to juggle both?

2) We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” 

3) Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right. —This goes back to the article I read about “Facebook depression”.  No one is perfect, but you can make it seem that way in your digital life.

4) FACE-TO-FACE conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters. –Lord knows by students need more help in learning patience.

5) If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.

6) I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.” We can demonstrate the value of conversation to our children. And we can do the same thing at work. There we are so busy communicating that we often don’t have time to talk to one another about what really matters. Employees asked for casual Fridays; perhaps managers should introduce conversational Thursdays. 

Monday night food for thought..and maybe a conversation.



Teaching Copyright Laws in Asia

As an Elementary Teacher who is soon to be an Elementary Librarian, one of the major issues I am currently facing is how to teach my students international copyright laws, when copyright laws are usually not followed in Asia.  Many Asian cultures believe in a collective society and not in individual ownership.  Asia is known for taking an idea and making it better (just look at the automobile industry).
Until recently plagiarism has not really been discussed in Asia.  A few high profile cases in Korea have caught my attention over the past few years:
Two years ago a very famous K-Pop star, Hyo-ri, admitted to plagiarizing 6 of her songs.
Last year famous K-Pop Star, Rain, was accused of plagiarizing his songs ‘Busan Woman’.
The most famous case in South Korea happened 10 years ago:
“By far the most shocking case of Asian-style academic plagiarism, however, took place in South Korea, where the country’s education minister, Song Ja, was forced to quit his job after a citizens’ group revealed that an entire book he published, in 1982, was virtually identical to a book written 14 years earlier by two American scholars.Dr Song, formerly the president of Yonsei University, a prestigious institution in Seoul, originally came to prominence in South Korea for his outspoken views on the need for greater originality of thought in Korean education. In the preface to his 1982 book, which he titled Managerial Accounting Principles, Dr Song acknowledged having been influenced by the writings of other international academics, but, using the standard disclaimer made by writers of original work, he went on to assume authorial responsibility for the book’s content. He wrote that he hoped his book would help improve the quality of accounting education in South Korea.”

However, many Asian children don’t even know what plagiarism is until they go to college.  They are taught using the method of rote learning, which doesn’t really open up the idea to discussions of original thinking.
In the many Asian countries I have been lucky enough to visit, I see blatant rip offs of company names, signs, symbols and merchandise.  How do you teach students that plagiarism is wrong when it is all around them?  How do you go against their cultures way of thinking and impose Western ideas?  I honestly have no idea.  I plan to continue to help them see why it is wrong to steal someone else’s idea and call it yours and to show them the proper ways to give credit when credit is due.  Whether or not they choose to follow that advice is up to them.  Hopefully by starting with them at such a young age they will understand, but it is hard when you hear one thing and see another.
Crate & Barrel or Wheel & Barrow?
Pizza Hut or Pizza Huh?
Starbucks or Bucksstar?

Online Privacy

Online privacy is something that I think many people don’t think about.  Sometimes I am baffled by stupidity at things people post.  Examples: 1) You post to your Facebook that your family is going on vacation for a week out of town and no one will be at your house.  Do you want to get robbed!? 2) The MapMyRun app.  I have girlfriends that post their running routes online on Facebook.  All I can think is “Great.  Now that stalker rapist knows where to get you in the morning when you are running alone on your route.”  3) The GirlsAroundMe app that connects with FourSquare. My sister uses FourSquare all the time and it posts where she has ‘checked in’ on her Facebook.  I sent her the article about the GirlsAroundMe app and how it basically allowed creeps to stalk her and she was totally creeped out and deleted the FourSquare app from her phone.  Why do you need to ‘check-in’ with an app everywhere you go?  Why is so important that people know you are there?
Being online I feel like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  There is a really fine line in revealing too much about yourself and being totally left out.  In this day and age you need to be familiar with technology, social media, blogging, etc. for professional reasons and also to keep in contact with friends and family members. (As a person living overseas I am especially thankful that I can so easily stay connected to lives of my family and friends back home).  However you can very easily get wrapped up in the online would and put yourself out there too much.   Or become so addicted to the process of sharing.  Or become so depressed that your life is not as good as other peoples because of what they are sharing.  Like anything in life, it is important to find a balance.
Have I used before?  Yes.  When taking my Master’s courses I definitely looked up my professors and also left comments about each of them, good or bad.  I understand why people hate these types of sites and why people love them.  People can have personality conflicts and especially as you get older (HS or College age) you begin to be aware of what works for you as a learner and what doesn’t.  These types of websites do let you know what type of a teacher they are and how they will be teaching the information to the class.  On the other hand it is like turning a teacher into a celebrity.  As a teacher I could go online and read horrible things about myself and students could be writing outright lies about me and there would be no way to combat it.  We all know the saying about opinions…

Digital Footprints for Teachers & Students

I think its important for teachers to have a digital footprint that shows their professional strengths. Having a class website or teaching blog can show an administrator that you care about communication and are passionate about what you do.  It also shows that you are comfortable with technology.  I have a Facebook account, but have very restricted settings.  Only friends, not friends of friends, can see my posts and photos.  No one can search for me or read any of my information.  I don’t want that picture of me holding a glass of wine at the staff Christmas party to be the reason I one day don’t get a job.  My second year teaching in North Carolina, a teacher was fired for things that were posted on Facebook.  Our district sent out a warning email to all teachers telling us that if we had a MySpace or Facebook page that we should make sure our privacy settings and content were appropriate.  Ever since then I have been cautious.  I love my job and don’t want to lose it over something as stupid as a Facebook post.  Our administrators have admitted to me that they will Google a candidate to see what comes up.  They have seen DUI photos of teachers and many other things.  All teachers should Google themselves to see what comes up, because possible bosses will be doing the same.
With students I feel they have to be able to see that something bad has actually happened before they will believe it can happen.  We have all heard parents or teachers say things to us like “Don’t jump out of that tree. My friend jumped out of a tree and broke her arm when she was little!”  For most of us, we thought “Whatever” and we jumped out of the tree. However one day when our friend jumped out of the tree and came to school with a cast we began to be more cautious.  The evidence of injury was right in front of us.  Showing students actual problems that have arisen from other students using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites is a great way to show them exactly what can happen if they choose to share things that may be inappropriate.  The links below show teachers and students who have been fired for various reasons, all surrounding some type of information found on Twitter or Facebook.  Show students that everything they have been working for all these years can be taken away in a second because of not thinking and posting something online.
Teachers Fired Over Social Networking

Students Suspended or Expelled for Social Networking