November 4, 2009

Facebook is weird

The other day Alec Couros Tweeted about facebook and its weird new "tool" that allows you to reconnect with people you have not connected with in a while. He pointed out that people were angry because facebook was asking them to reconnect with people that are now dead.

Well, this happened to me yesterday. This last August one of my former students passed away in a car accident. She had just graduated. She was going to be a carpenter. Her name was Megan, and I have had a hard time accepting her passing.

I found out about her accident on facebook. In real time. One status update still haunts me. One of her best friends wrote: "Megan, they are saying you were in the car and you are gone....please let this not be true, I don't know if you are okay or not". Another person wrote (I think it was her relative): "dude, I think she's gone".

That last statement hit me hard. I was getting bad news in real time. I was also watching people react in real time. Facebook statuses soon echoed her name and the news everywhere. People created memorial groups and used facebook as a way to cope.

This next part was foreign to me. I have never had someone younger than me and close to me die before. And it was a really hard thing for me to accept. Although facebook provided somewhat of a grieving process for some, I found it difficult. Megan still has a facebook profile. I saw that people were writing on her wall and found myself checking her profile. It makes it harder for me to accept the fact that she is gone.

And now this. Yesterday, under suggestions, I saw that facebook had suggested her as a friend to reconnect with. I do not even know what to think about all this.

Jump off the bandwagon?

We've all heard it..."it's the new bandwagon". Odd statement. What does it even mean? Well, at least in education, here's what I think.

We educators use this term a lot. Maybe because there are a lot of new "bandwagons" to jump on. But what are we really saying? Yes, the term is used to describes something new. But it is more than that. We use it to describe new things that we are not yet sure of, or not yet familiar with. And I'll go even one step further. We often use it to describe things we do not agree with, or do not have the time, energy, and patience to look into. We use it as a cop out. It's our way of saying "I am not willing to look into this or consider it". We simply write it off as the "new bandwagon".

Why do we do this? It's not because we're lazy. It's not because we don't get excited by new ideas. But here is why:

1. Traditionally, a "new bandwagon" means more meaningless paperwork handed down by administration.

2. Many teachers have been in education a long time and (sadly) do not see a need for change. We think the system is just fine the way it is.

Yes, there are a lot of "new bandwagons" out there. And no, we do not have to jump on every one. But, we should at least take time to inspect the bandwagon. To see if it could help us or hurt us somehow. If we don't, we're doing our students an injustice. So please, next time you catch yourself saying "it's just the new bandwagon" realize that this is a cop out and that the education system needs more from you.