Things I Know 181 of 365: Students need guidance, not oversight

When we want to develop meaning-making we run counter-clockwise to our instincts as teachers. We are explainers and our instincts tell us to make things simple and unambiguous. We must fight this.

– Grant Wiggins

Lady next to me at the coffee shop has concerns about a school that has 1-to-1 laptop program and no Emperor Palpatine-like oversight software.

“What if they get into trouble?” she asks.

“We help them get out of that. More importantly, we work to help them avoid it,” I answer.

I go on to explain the deep and complex discussions to be had around appropriate use policies and brainstorming problem situations into which students can get themselves.

She likes the idea of this, but remains concerned.

“It just feels like they’ll still get into trouble.”

They do.

I could chalk it up to them being kids, but that’s not quite why.

They’re people, you see, and prone to mistakes.

Walking this morning, I saw a man riding a bike in the wrong lane of a 2-lane street, talking on his cell phone. Time to review his appropriate use policies.

Last night, a woman backing out of a parking spot ran into and tipped over what I was told was a fairly expensive Dukati motorcycle. In a fair fight, the woman’s Prius would have lost by most measures. In this moment, it was too soon for the joke. She was reviewing her appropriate use policy in her mind.

Running along the path, I find a man who has decided to block traffic to stretch out his hamstrings. I checked the tiny pocket in my running shorts for an extra copy of the appropriate use policy.

I understand the coffee shop woman’s concern. Computers and the Interwebs offer tremendous potential for trouble. The best we can do is draw up a set of guidelines, review it with students and keep the dialogue open. It’s not the most we can do, but it is the best.

To impose draconian measures of Big Brotherly monitoring robs students of the chance to build internal structures and systems for monitoring and safety.

We will always be there to help, but like the parents of the man on the bike, we won’t be running alongside forever.

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