Tuesday, August 31, 2010

October 19, 2009 - When Teachers Get Mean

I don't like it when people are mean. I can't even bear to read most Peanuts comics because it's too painful for me to see the poor way Charlie Brown is treated by his so-called friends. I know this means I'm in for a world of hurt because the planet is populated with many ill-willed creatures that delight in being cruel (did anyone else see that photo online of the cat that was duct-taped from neck to tail and dumped in someone's yard because the teen who did it was "annoyed"?). Still, I hold out hope that some people at least will show some small bit of respect for their fellow human beings. When teachers decide to be mean, even to other teachers, it irks me.

I can't use names and I can't quote. I can paraphrase and use generalities. Like many school boards, we have online areas for teachers to discuss things. Lately, on the teacher-librarian section of my board's server, there has been a lot of talk about web 2.0 tools and fostering digital literacy and so on. One particular person is rather adamantly opposed to this. I know I've tried discussing the issues calmly but my arguments are dismissed. (You don't need to point out the irony of debating the importance of computers using email. I caught that.) I gave up and continued to discuss some exciting things some of us intrigued by this area are trying out with our students. I don't know if he's mad that we aren't engaging him directly or what, but I've noticed his posts have become more mean-spirited. He picked on the "signature font colour" of one person's post in a particularly snarky way. He's accused people who use things like social networking sites as trying to suck up to the kids so we can be popular, and of not teaching the proper basics and making the kids dumb.

I don't mind someone being critical of new initiatives and media. Respectful debate is good. Witness the talk recently on Joyce Valenza's blog about involving those in the discussion who aren't fans. Joyce can be hard-core but I don't think she's deliberately trying to be mean. Neither is the person worried about school libraries branding themselves in unnecessary ways that is talking with Joyce online via the comments page. What I object to is people mocking others.

I should be used to seeing flames like this. After all, several Twilight fan sites were hacked several months ago by organized groups of people who hate Twilight - they call Twilight fans "Twitards" and ridicule their passion. Why would you destroy something just because you disagree with it? Maybe if people like this could choose a more worthy or worthwhile target (ending child porn on the Net? stopping Internet news censorship by dictatorships?), we could all reap the benefits instead of having something we cherish get smashed by bullies.

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