WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2010 AT 7:21AM
Banning Facebook is like banning the telephone. What people in authority don’t realise is that it is just a tool. Any tool can be used or misused. What they should be focused on is harnessing its potential not being paranoid about what people do with it.
Facebook, like so many social tools, is actually primarily about learning. Yes learning what people had for breakfast – but also learning news, learning what works, learning what books are best to read, learning where to find the right bit of information.
It is particularly ironic when schools ban Facebook as they are the very ones who should be teaching effective use of this technology – not keeping their pupils stuck in some industrial, factory model of learning.
Reader Comments (25)
When you’re at school, you are there for learning. Learning the important stuff – and the even more important stuff about being social in the first place, by talking to friends, face to face.
Social sites don’t help with this, which is why this ban (to which I can relate very well) is so interesting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/sep/17/us-college-facebook-blackout
September 22, 2010 | Christian Guthier
Guns are just things.
Porn is just pictures.
Crack is just a substance.
“Facebook, like so many social tools, is actually primarily about learning. ”
This statment strikes me as absurd and untrue.
Absorbing random bits of information piecemeal is actually the opposite of learning and is, as we are finding out, having a very negative impact on young minds ability to function in reality.
Is information synthesised on facebook or twitter? Are worthwhile discussions ever had?
September 22, 2010 | helen clattenberg
Huge assumptions being made there Helen and Christian. I wonder how much experience you have actually had of these tools or of the way people and kids use them?
Yes those things are just things and can be used for good or ill. Demonising the things without dealing with our issues ducks the issues.
Social tools enable millions of us to meet, build relationships, and have better informed and enriching conversations about all sorts of things.
Otherwise what are we doing now and why did you leave a comment?
September 22, 2010 | Euan
Am not assuming anything, just reporting my direct experience (I work part-time with teenagers – outside the US) and I see that constant distraction and inundation with trivia from electronic impairs cognition (not just while the devices are being used).
Depth of consciousness and patience are learned attributes. Most of us older folk grew up in environments where that was instilled and valued.
The social environment has changed vastly and our teenagers now, will reap the whirlwind.
Of course Social Networks “enable” many positive things, but just because something is “enabled” it does not follow that it actually happens.
Like schools, nightclubs also “enable millions of us to meet, build relationships, and have better informed and enriching conversations about all sorts of things”.
Should schools be converted to nightclubs so that the kids may enrich their minds. communicate, network, bond and “learn” dance moves, chat up routines etc etc?
You first assertion that social tools are about learning, gives a very skewed idea of what learning is.
(Assuming he is adolescent) its natural, that your son is more interested in learning social / romantic skills etc etc, rather than other skills that might be of value later on, but we as parents, I think would serve his generation better, by demonstrating that not all learning has the same value no matter how cool and groovy.
September 22, 2010 | helen clattenberg
Great debate Euan. I do want to also pick up on some points raised by Helen and Christian (thanks for stoking this conversation both).
“The social environment has changed rapidly”. Agreed and if we don’t help to equip our children to learn and thrive in that environment then both we and our schools are abdicating all responsibility as educators for their future well-being. If we don’t teach our children how to use all available resources safely and efficiently – for their own good and the good of wider society – then we set them and society up to fail in what is becoming a true knowledge intensive “attention economy”.
“Depth of consciousness and patience are learned attributes. Most of us older folk grew up in environments where that was instilled and valued”. These are still learned and valued attributes. If ever we needed to help our children learn the power of mindful attention and patience then this is the age. But we must teach them within, not without, the social environment in which they will live otherwise it just won’t stick. It is interesting to me that some of the most powerful and joyous advocates of “social technology” are those who are already deeply conscious and mindful. Simply because it provides opportunity for a growing awareness of our infinite and inherent “interdependence” as Ethan Nichtern calls it. Check out Bhuddist Geeks or 21Awake or The Here and Now Project for what is a much more mature and evolved consideration on this: it is a necessary invitation and opportunity to explore what it means to be conscious and patient within (not outside of) the 21st Century. The aspiration is still the same but our children are growing up in a different time so it must a slightly different question.
“All learning is not equal” but why do we persist in suggesting that we – any of us – know what learning is most relevant and to whom? Even the way we study is being challenged as we learn for example that (as musicians already know) repetition of a single discipline/area of study in discrete chunks does not work well for sustaining retention and cognitive development. Rather, regular short bursts of a range of subjects/tasks/disciplines in one sitting yields much more. Even the recognition that so much of our best learning is social is underpinned by science. But back to my original point – not all learning is equal/as important as other learning. Agreed, but who is best placed to decide that? We continue to prepare so many of our students for a world we appear not to have noticed is changing in front of our very eyes. The capability to source, discern, synthesise and connect to both information and people (in a mindful and patient manner) are among the key skills we will need for the future. As Steven Berlin Johnson says: “chance favours the connected world”. But it also favours the connected (and skilled) person therein.
If that’s not among the “important stuff” then I worry for our young minds. The Battle of Hastings and long division will only get us so far.
I’m fully behind Euan on this. How we learn/teach should reflect how we understand our young people to live. Without that much learning can (and will) feel redundant and stifling. Like everything else, Facebook isn’t bad, but there are bad users of Facebook. Apparently some of our schools are among them.
September 22, 2010 | Shane Carmichael
I love it when comments are way better than my post!
September 22, 2010 | Euan