Thursday, May 28, 2009

Been thinking some more about the Twittering Teacher. The Oban Times piece is so hysterical that the first reaction is still to laugh, to damn Argyll and Bute Council, and to carry on Twittering like mad. But if you read what this hapless teacher has twittered, you see why there was a stushie. Only thing is, it’s nothing to do with wasting time, indulging in nefarious online practices or anything else of that nature. No, it’s to do with her being just a bit silly.

Once upon a time I spoke to the Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church about blogging as a means of keeping people connected – you know the sort of thing. And the reigning comms supremo buttonholed me afterwards to pooh-pooh the whole blog thing because of its association, in his mind, with hapless American adolescents who dumped their every thought online and left it there. This was obviously not what sensible adults did.

Sadly, this teacher – who seems to be a PT – is really doing the American adolescent thing on the even speedier forum of Twitter. And instead of someone pointing out, quietly, that really she ought to be able to differentiate between what is suitable to share, and what is in fact hurtful or a matter for professional discretion, the council representatives go nuts and say
‘Social network sites are blocked in all schools as policy. Any member of staff found to have breached council policy will face appropriate disciplinary action.’
And so other professionals are told they can’t tweet for ideas, assistance or professional input, all because one teacher lost it. But she didn’t lose it as badly as the Oban Times suggests here:
There is also a shameful admission of a lack of interest in teaching.

‘Hello…where I am stuck in a maths cover lesson, at least the sun is shining.’ 10.01am May 11.

The teacher concerned would not be teaching at this point, but would be stuck in the classroom of an absent colleague, supervising a class in a subject not her own. There is little to do under these circumstances but watch the time pass and keep order – you don’t teach. It’s boring. And all the time you think of the work you’re not able to do because you’ve lost a precious non-contact period. People perhaps don’t know this – and maybe they should. Maybe it’s a good thing for the general public to know how a teacher’s day is really spent – so why not twitter this?

Back to blogs. There are still people who put unwise comments on their blogs, remarks thrown out carelessly which have the power to wound and offend. But blogs exist, and social networking sites exist, and there is no point in damning the technology because people are just as silly as they ever were. The Scottish Episcopal Church embraced blogging a couple of years ago, and this year the Synod will take a tentative look at Twitter – again, a couple of years after I first suggested it’d be a good way to keep track of one’s Bishop. And nothing Argyll and Bute council can say will make any difference.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, quite.

    The school's policy (indeed many schools' such policies) of blocking "dodgy" stuff dates from about the 1990s when that control of workers' time was seen as a network-administrator's job. (Read early versions of the Solaris Administrator's Guide by O'Reilly...)

    These days we prefer to be `can-do' people who control the outward appearance of the organization we represent. Permissiveness has won.

    It was quite pleasant to see Twitter being used by the CoS assembly last week or so. Notably they set up a specific account for the job, which implies one or two people maintaining it for the duration, ie the organization actually its act together in advance.

    I still think the SEC could make something of tumblr or a similar frequent browser-to-microblog news linking and commenting system.