Sunday, November 27, 2005

Teachers' Union Suggests Exploring Blogs,
But Many Parents Still Remain Unnerved

"'It's something that teachers are really starting to get their brains around,' says Will Richardson, tech guru at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey, and author of the premiere blog on blogging. 'There are as many uses for this tool as your imagination can think of.' Many teacher blogs look like personal diaries and serve as virtual lounges, a place to kvetch and share inspiration with colleagues. But the collaborative nature of Web logs also make them valuable instructional tools to connect students and teachers, and provide a new place to create Web-based content. Post assignment, point kids to current events, and get them psyched about their studies--Richardson did all that as a journalism teacher with a daily Web log.'
--From an article in the October issue of the National Education Association's magazine, NEA Today.

"The spying started two years ago. Karen Lippe's daughter told her she was going to a school footbal game with friends. The next day, Ms. Lippe found out the truth: her daughter, then 14 years old, had skipped out on the game with a friend, got in the car of a boy Ms. Lippe didn't know and headed to an ice cream shop without permission. Ms. Lippe sat her daughter down after dinner to warn her not to let it happen again. Ms. Lippe, a marketing consultant in Irvine, Calif., didn't divulge how she found out. But her daughter figured it out anyway. The daughter's friend had recounted the transgression on her Web log, or blog, which Ms. Lippe had read online. Since the incident, Ms. Lippe has tried a series of software programs to snoop on her daughter's Internet use. She now often spends 30 minutes a day monitoring her daughter's blog and online activities. For her part, Ms. Lippe's daughter sometimes warns friends about her mother's cyber-surveillance and has deployed evasive tactics such as erasing a computer's record of sites she visits. 'If my daughter had a diary in her room, I would not read it. But what she posts on the Internet is posted to the entire world.'"
--from the lead article in this week's Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, headlined "Big Mother is Watching"


At 6:38 PM, Blogger Daniella said...

What a choice for a parent to make? Be a snoop or be neglectful? Can you trust the judgement of fourteen year old? Probably but how can you take that luxury as a parent when one false move can cost them so much?

Trust is also a mutual sentiment that is built over the years between parents and children and can be weakened with the first set of wheels or the first lie discovered.

I think parents can not afford to put their popularity first, better nip all that in the bud. But I am not comfortable with it.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

You wonderfully describe the parental conundrum with the web. But these challenges will only get worse for parents of teens: Rupert Murdoch recently purchased the most popular teen blog site,, and is enhancing it with ever-increasing attractions. This WSJ article caught my attention because I've been facing this lately: I discovered that my youngest son has a blog (I had earlier set one up for my oldest son, who lost interest not long after), and that he had some answers to stock questions that we didn't care for, all publicly available under his name. You're right that parents can't worry about being popular. They have to do what's right for their kids, or at least what they think is right for the long term. When they hit 18, that'll ease--somewhat...

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Greta Garbo said...

Interesting piece. But my *blink* thought is "Aren't blogs public domain?" If you don't want it to be read or found, don't put it in a blog. I still keep one of those old school paper journals, too, for when I don't want things to be read by my 1.5 blog readers. Maybe teachers need to discover blogs, and students need to discover pen and paper.

Not discussed, but probably a more rampant problem: cheating. It sort of makes me sick to think it could be so easy these days. And I worked so bloody hard in high school. Sigh.

Of course, I'll never have to worry about either of these problems as my daughter is perfect. (Ha! I think I wet myself.)


At 1:43 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

As one of your regular readers, I'm glad to learn we share one crucial thing: a weakness for amoretto. I order it on the rocks every chance I get, especially when someone else is paying.
And yes, of course, the problem is that blogs are in the public domain, though try explaining to a sullen teenager that what you write on the web can follow you forever, even into the college application process.
Funny, I also have perfect kids...

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Jeff Hess said...

Shalom John,

I began using blogs as a teaching tool for 5th, 6th and 7th graders at Cleveland Hebrew Schools in 2003.

The greatest challenge I found is that these supposedly computer savvy kids are in fact functionally computer illiterate, although they have their own laptops and three to four computers in their homes.



At 8:04 PM, Blogger Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Y'all,

I'm not a parent, but I do deal with a lot of kids, both in my famiy and my students. If I were a parent the family computer would be placed in a very public and highly traveled location in my home.

That is the easiest way to tell what's going on with the computer. If a child wants privacy, let them write in a bound book under the covers with a flashlight.




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