Been kicking around the idea of jump-staring "think:lab" once again.
Been nearly a year since I had the site shut down for a couple of reasons (focusing more on my classroom, less on consulting; being a father of another new child; time; etc.). And while I had hoped to wait a bit longer until the good people at Typepad were able to get everything put back together in terms of the template/design bits, something 'woke me up' today. And regardless of a poorly designed blog, the time to begin writing/publishing again is today.
Here's what sparked it all:
Via Twitter (@smartinez, @budtheteacher, @karlfisch, @wfryer, and many others in my expanding network), I can't stop thinking about a single presentation -- that is about to be held -- at NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) conference titled, “The Enemy Within: Stop Students from Bypassing Your Web Filters.”
Mmm. Students = enemies. An intriguing way to work on behalf of students, the very reason any of us have jobs in the first place.
Sylvia wrote about the upcoming session on her own blog: “Students are not the enemy.” She deserves to be thanked for nudging the rest of us into this ever-growing conversation. I also want to thank Wes Fryer for doing great work to take it to the next level via his recent blog post, "A proposed student social media protest campaign fro NYSCATE", that you should definitely read as well.
Ironically, on the upcoming session's NYSCATE wiki page, Karl Fisch discovered that the page is open and editable... a perfect recipe for adding a few of our voices to let Sophos and Chris Ridgway (the session's speaker/rep) know where this ever-expanding conversation may be headed.
I wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I find this session title and the frame that you're using to sell your services to be offensive and beyond the pale. Our students are not our enemies and their behaviors are not rooted in violence. So long as you make them out to be, though, you'll certainly be doing our schools and our students a great deal of harm.
I suspect you're a smart dude, wise about networks and the Internet. I hope you'll hear what I'm saying here and, in the future, when speaking and teaching about the actions of our children, you'll do so in a way that doesn't make them out to be criminals. Because they're not. No more so than vendors are scoundrels that prey on our worst fears.
All the best. I'd look forward to your response.
Even if that was all that was written, a critical point would have been made.
But, others had added their voices, so I thought I'd think-out-loud a bit on the wiki as well.
This is an excerpt of my much longer response left on the wiki:
Whether I consider my world view as a father (of 2 in diapers), as an educator (who now is a 10th grade English teacher), or as a speaker/consultant (working with school architects/planners around the world, and many vendors like yourself who hope to have their products/services spec'd into projects), I am stunned by the choice you (and your entire organization, since they are indeed associated directly with the presentation) made in terms of framing the underlying reasons why someone should select a school-wide Internet management strategy with your firm.
Ultimately this is just business. And I don't mean that a vendor can pull that trigger and ignore those who disagree with sales/marketing tactics. No. What I mean is that our collective, global, 24/7, 2-way response is "just business". While we may respond as people, parents, educators, and citizens, ultimately our response is "just business". And your bottom line.
While it is tempting for me to react as a father and as an advocate for my students (and the many I support world-wide), it is within my business/consulting/speaking role that I am most perplexed by your session's title. A marketing/PR campaign that is centered on fear has limited value, esp. when kids are now the "enemies" in a system where they are actually the entire point.
Worse yet, such a marketing campaign that suggests that those who advocate for kids should see *now* their relationship with young people as nothing less than *proactive warfare* strikes me as misguided, poorly conceived, and frankly the work of a late-night presentation drafting scenario decision process as a nervous speaker tries to figure out a way to superficially dress up their presentation in order to desperately scrum for business in a desperately competitive market.
This does not seem like an industry leader's voice based on wisdom and a view of the big picture. It sounds like someone fighting to keep their job.
The language -- “The Enemy Within: Stop Students from Bypassing Your Web Filters” -- you engaged your perceived audience with is at best merely buzz-language hype. Note: As an English teacher, I give you casual props for borrowing from something that was stated long before your product came to market, but that is a side point.
At worst, your language strips the very industry you are paid to *serve* of its mission and heart, not to mention the fairly painful irony that it attacks the very group that schools exist to advocate for...and to empower...
While most of you can be far more pithy and to-the-point than I can, consider adding your voice to Chris, his company Sapphos, and NYSCATE (the conference organizers).
Here's the wiki page link.
Look forward to reading your response.