This post started to be about a huge topic, but I kept getting bogged down. So I decided for a bite of the elephant instead of the entire beast.
A friend of mine (and by friend of mine I do not mean myself) whom I’ll call Maynard, recently found himself in an uncomfortable position with a third friend, whom I’ll call Clarice, caused by changes to Facebook privacy settings. Maynard made a comment on one of his Facebook friend’s posts, not realizing that current settings cause the original post and his comment to appear on the pages of all Maynard’s friends. Luckily the comment was not toxic, just teasing, of Clarice, and after a few awkward moments the kerfufel resolved itself into an uneasy truce.
One doesn’t have to look far in their own lives or the news to find dozens of similar stories. Whether deserved or not, Congressman Weiner’s career was abruptly ended by unintended sharing. Pro athletes have shared information about their injuries that teams have wanted to keep private. Even Leo Laporte, the self-proclaimed “Tech Guy,” accidentally shared private posts during one of his podcasts at the end of last year, causing him embarrassment and perhaps other trouble.
While it is easy to point the finger and snicker, we are all vulnerable to similar gaffs. We don’t understand the privacy settings on Facebook and other social media, and we electronically communicate things when we shouldn’t. For most of us, this can cause a bit of social embarrassment, for others a major, life changing crisis, but the source of the problem is the same.
Which leads to the the point I want to make, why is online privacy not part of the new Common Core standards? If these standards are what we expect a young person to know and be able to do by the time he or she finishes twelfth grade, isn’t knowing how to communicate effectively and appropriately part of this?
I was looking through the standards (currently available for language arts and math), and I found no mention of online privacy. A student leaving high school is supposed to know and understand the quadratic equation, but they are on their own when it comes to Facebook. With no intended insult to the math cartel (OK, I suppose calling them a cartel is sort of an insult), the number of people who use the quadratic equation after leaving school is so small as to be statistically irrelevant.
While I recognize that there are technology standards that address this issue, these are not part of the sacred common core. Thus they will be addressed or not to the extent they are a focus for a teacher and school, and they will not be part of national standardized exams which is the chief driver of classroom time.
Whether or not we teach the higher level maths is a discussion for another day, but if education is to prepare students for life and not some theoretical semblance of life, it should do just that.
As always, I welcome your comments.