“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King Jr.
My mom is from Nehawka, Nebraska. A small “village” that currently houses 204 residents according to the 2010 census. She graduated in 1978 with twenty something people in her graduating class. Her family had to drive one hour to shop for things other than groceries, and now when visiting my grandparents that still live in the house my mom grew up in, we see more corn stalks than people.
I appreciate small towns. They have a charm and charasmatic nature that you often cannot find in large cities. However, while growing up in the heartland of the US my mom was not bred as a southern belle. She became a southern transplant a few years after marrying my father and had me four years later. When a midwesterner raises a southern child a few key behaviors are left out. Ma’am was left out of my vocabulary. My mother didn’t like being called ma’am. Six years after being born, I went to first grade where I was chastised by a teacher because I responded with “yes” instead of a “yes ma’am”. I rarely left off the ma’am in public again.
While not listed as a job requirement, teaching children manners and how to behave in public are lessons teachers subtly teach students every day. We are living in a day and age when saying please and thank you are simply the jumping off point of what we need to teach our students. The question has been posed if educators should teach our students social media skills. My answer is, how could we not?
What type of society would we develop if we didn’t expect our next citizens to say please and thank you. It would be the same type of society that isn’t taught social media skills. There has been intense growth in technology since my mother was in school. This shift calls for a shift in social skills as well.
The web is a platform for play and professionalism. One can lose herself for hours on end looking at pins on pinterest, which my husband thinks is a complete waste of time. The same person can engage in a conversation with educators around the world focusing on a particular topic. Using social media as a positive resource can begin at an early age, but if not taught how to “behave” when using social media outlets these resources can ruin our student’s future. High school students across our country have been expelled for using social media inappropriately.
If we intend to educate the children of the next generation, we need to create well-rounded individuals. These individuals must understand how to engage and behave in a real and virtual world.