Swears in Elementary! The Horror!

I find that a lot of my blogs have to deal with the Grade 2 classes I teach, but that’s just because so much of what I’m doing with those youngins relates quite well to what I’m doing in the online course I’ve been taking.

A couple days ago it came to my attention that one of those students, under my direction at the time, used one of the schools computers to rant about how much he hated school in a 2 minute video which he decided to save to the laptop’s desktop.  In the video he dropped a couple of F-bombs to emphasize his displeasure for school – which shocked another student who had watched his video and brought it to the attention of school administrators.

Some rights reserved by KTVee

When he made that video, the task I had given the class was to blog about anything on their own so their teachers would know who could log in and blog on their own, and who still needed assistance getting to their blogs.

He took that liberty to blog about anything…and because I was trying to keep my hands off to see who was truly able to blog independently, I wasn’t around to catch swearing.

Interestingly, many people at my school recommended that we take his computer privileges away for a week for recording his swearing. I was against this at first: would you take away pencils for a week if he had written it on a piece of paper? I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t.  I’m trying to treat the computer as another tool, like a ruler or an eraser.  But where a computer is different is that this tool is being shared by every child in elementary.  Anything offensive created on a computer is potentially shared with everyone in the school.

In the end, we didn’t take away computer privileges.  There was no sense in making that student fall behind any further (he didn’t know how to blog independently). But rather, we fell back to his classroom rules which stated that he was to only use kind words – and since he didn’t, he lost a couple of recesses.

As for my part to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again, the Grade 2 teachers and I sat down with the class and came up with some essential agreements for computer use.  These agreements came from suggestions from the students, so there was a lot of mention about treating the computer like a newborn baby; but some students mentioned that computers are to be used to produce your best work – and that includes not using the technology to record swearing, bullying, or something that will hurt others.

Coming up with essential agreements is something that I’ll have to remind myself to do at the beginning of the next school year.  Rules are better followed when they’re made up by the people that actually have to follow the rules.  Handing out detentions or whatever is easier when the students themselves come up with the consequences.  I’m just not sure how tricky it’ll be to get the students to come up with essential agreements that will look just like the acceptable user policy I’m trying to design for the school.