This past evening on the Future of Education site, a very good webinar was provided with the author/speaker Thomas Frey (featured in a previous forum).

Beyond the obvious excitement that the Web 2.0 offers for education, one concern has been bugging me. What about the breakdown between the separation between the public and the private life? While this may not be an obvious issue for many immersed in social media, hosts of philosophers have concerned themselves with this issue for quite sometime (e.g. Aristotle, Adam Smith, Marx, Hannah Arendt, and many more). What is the main concern is voiced best by Arendt in the Human Condition when she stated,

“Since the rise of society… an irresistible tendency [has] grown, to devour the older realms of the political and private as well as the more recently established sphere of intimacy, has been one of the outstanding characteristics of the new realm. This constant growth, whose no less constant acceleration we can observe over at least three centuries, derives its strength from the fact that through society it is the life process itself which in one form or another has been channeled into the public realm.” (1)

In effect… as every barrier of the past is broken down through the willing permission of new technology in our lives, we are no longer private beings, but everything about us now exists in the public realm.

What do you think about this? Agree? Disagree? Is the very features that make the Social Web in the education realm appealing also potentially dangerous?

1. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition 2nd edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998, 45.
2. Cross posted at fourthlogic

Tags: 2.0, Social, Web

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I think teachers should have always lived as if they were public beings. That is the very idea of a public servant to me.

Of course it is dangerous. That's why you see more news stories about Teachers Gone Wild than any other profession. It is, however, what we sign up for.

Frankly, our society could use a little more shame.
I have a policy not to be a Facebook friend with any current students. I think that crosses the line between public and what should be private. However, I live in a very small community where I went to high school with many of my students' parents, with whom I have several Facebook friends. Perhaps this is hypocrisy, perhaps not.

What bothers me about this self-inflicted policy is that I like knowing what my students do outside of class hours. Facebook is very revealing (positively and negatively), and I find out things on Facebook that I would not know otherwise. I'd find out more if I allowed current students. Seeing the "private" side of my students (albeitly publicly) gives me insight to who they are, and what their needs are.

The point is, don't put anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want anybody to see. Teachers on drunken binges simply should not post those videos. Used to be, teachers who made fools of themselves publicly lost their jobs.

I think Kev was right about shame.
I see the danger present only in those individuals who choose to be irresponsible. While my policy in to not have any of my K-8 students as friends in my FaceBook profile, there is nothing in my profile which students shouldn't see.

In other words, while the blending of public and private is taking place on a more global level; I honestly believe that this is nothing new. Small town America is the classic example, everyone knows everybody and knows everybody's business. The difference was (and still is) that people knew deference; people knew when to air gossip and when to just leave it be. Now, people purposely put information on to a public site that shouldn't be on a public site. And that is the whole problem. It's becoming the norm to post all of one's idiotic follies in living color. Not only that but their friends, family, and acquaintances all do the same.
I hope that this communal stupidity will die off in the foreseeable future, yet with the decline of solid morals in America it's doubtful.

So is there a danger? Only to the irresponsible.
I have actually ran into this problem in a big way. One of my myspace pages is dedicated to my bartending life. A former student found it and sent it to a member of my management team and they were not happy about it. They didn't know I was a bartender and a lot of my pics would not make me look like I should be teaching Drug and sex education.

Lesson learned.

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