Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where do we draw the line on commenting?

I use Feedjit a lot as a way to monitor where traffic to my class page is coming from.  Its not perfect, although I have to say that overall I think it provides a good free service.   Its been a way of locating classroom blogs and I really believe the importance in paying dues and acknowledging sites that are promoting yours. 

Its also been the source of three sites that have 'riled' me over the past three years.

The first was in 2009 from a blog in the USA.  It was directly critical of the semantics emanating from my class page.  I know that my language can be a bit loose at times, it always has.   At first I was offended by the criticism that I read, and it was very negative.  However I effectively took the bait and commented back. That's what the sites author was after and they took it upon themselves to launch a series of posts criticising the work that my students were publishing online.  On behalf of the students I suppose that I took offence that someone should criticise them, and tried to stand up for them on their behalf.  The funny thing was having done that, to little effect (except as I said fuelling the 'fire' of the other blogger) we had a class discussing about it.  One of the students in my classroom during that discussion likened it to name calling in the classroom.  They said "Mr Webb why don't you just ignore them so they get bored and go away and bother someone else?"   I just sat there and had one of those moments of clarity thinking "uh-huh".

A few weeks ago I found another linking site to my class page taking the work, taking one piece of work from one of the students in my class and using that as the basis for the critique of teaching, students and the New Zealand education system.  I felt it prudent not to respond in a similar vein to the point the child had made about "ignoring" them.  So the other day I received this comment from the author of the same site, which was left in a form of a comment on my class page.   Again as I felt it wasn't in the correct context I chose not to publish it, but felt it was worth repeating here:

"Is it wise to get young children all worried about things like global warming? Especially when it isn't scientifically proven. I worry that such teaching is merely going to raise a generation of neurotic overly anxious young people who have little hope for the future.  It seems wrong to inflict such concerns on the young who lack the maturity to process it. Childhood should be a time of joy in learning not taking on the concerns of the adult world."

As I say I believe the person leaving the comment was looking for a reaction for their site.  Its taken a piece of work from an individual student, completely out of context I believe and made some assumptions, and judged a particular student for it.  I know on some class sites that comments are automatically published, and possibly I could have published this, but where do we as 'gate keepers' for our site draw the line?

Did I do the right thing in choosing not to publish this comment? Has anyone else had similar experiences?
Should I have discussed this with the student concerned or the classroom? In opening our students up for the greater community by publishing it online do we take the good with the bad?

Myles Webb/NZ Waikato

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