Sunday, January 29, 2006

On Free Speech, the Internet and Myspace

I want to thank Scott for opening up this topic here.

Dude, this little article goes to the core of a variety of issues involving the internet, education and free speech. I have a myspace because my students hounded me for months to get one as a means to communictae with me. Some of them even created a discussion group for one of my classes that has actually been useful and fun.

Having said that I will also say that the myspace phenomenon has become a great evil. Myspace was originally created two years ago as a means for singles to hook up and meet new people. It was subsequently hijacked by the teen age sub-culture. For some students it is just another medium to talk online, post pictures(many of them inappropriate), post artwork or poetry, etc. In some way, for a very small percentage of young people it is a creative forum. But, by its very nature it has become a dangerous forum because some kids post very personal and very specific information online that is a sexual predators dream come true.

All of this is to say that what the student in the article did does not surprise me. Nothing a high school studentdoes surprises me anymore. What the kid did was wrong, stupid, disrespectful and inapropriate. Suspension from school and from internet access on campus sounds more appropriate., maybe even a transfer to a different school but not to an 'alternative' school, those are bad news. As far as how negatively that affects his immediate future. . .well, he should have thought about that before he did what he did.

You have not been on your side of the lectern too long. The kids are getting worse, less sophisticated and more uncouth. I correct myself, there a still good kids out there, but many of them know no boundaries or sense of right and wrong. I'm only 36 and I can say that honestly. I know every generation complains about the one behind it, and on some level it is true, but I've talked with esteemed colleagues that have seen more change than I and they concur.

Recently, one of my colleagues, a decent man with a wife and kids, unbeknownst to him had a myspace created in his name. He is freaked out that this kind of freedom in the hands of juveniles could damage his career. What if this nefarious teen decides to start hitting on young girls online under his name? The mere investigation that would ensue could ruin his career. Any good parent knows that you afford freedoms to young people as they demonstrate responsible behavior. The challenge of the internet is that it affords unlimited freedom, even the freedom to potentially ruin careers, to young people that may not have the wisdom to exercise that responsibility.

You are not wrong in your assessment of the events described in the article. Perhaps the school went a little too far, but not much. Teenage hijinks in the past was limited in scope and effect on the victim. With the technology afforded by the 21st century, the consequences for the victim can be long lasting and far reaching. With that in mind, perhaps the consequences for the perpetrators should be just as far reaching and long lasting. Maybe eventually, people of all ages will recognize the immense responsiblity that comes with the gift of technology.

Oh, and by the way, I'm deleting my myspace tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fourteen Years Ago Today

Fourteen years ago today I became the luckiest man in the world.

After two kids, three degrees, two teaching credentials, a mortgage, caring for an ailing parent, health issues and occassional financial perils, I still can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Peace and love to all.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Walking Down The Aisle and The Years

I keep in touch via email with a small number of my students once they have graduated. I recently received an email from a female student of mine who graduated several years ago.

She was letting me know that she just got engaged and how happy she was. I returned the message with sincere congratulations and good wishes. But as I typed, I could not help but think she seemed a little young to be getting married.

Then I did the math.

She was sixteen when she was my student. That was seven years ago.

Oh my.

I'm officially old enough to have former students getting married. I'm approaching fossildom at lightning speed.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What I've Learned

Maybe it is because I'm feeling good today, or maybe it is because I turned 36 eleven days ago. But I began reflecting on life and wisdom in general today. When I was 15, I honestly thought I would have been dead by now, but gladly that prophecy turned out to be false. It got me thinking about who I am, what I am and what life has taught me thus far.

So, here is a short list of things I ve learned about myself and or life so far. The list is brief, for alas, I still have so much to learn.

I am the chief of sinners, more in need of Jesus with every passing hour.

Loving my wife comes as naturally as breathing.

Being a parent is the hardest thing I've ever undertaken.

A good friend is worth their weight in gold, diamonds and anything else that is precious.

There are some things in life that just are not worth worrying about.

I'm a work-aholic.

You can't go back and change a lousy childhood, but you can make the children in your life happy and loved.

The sting of losing someone in death does not go away with time.

I'm addicted to coffee.

I would not want to live in a world without books or music.

I'm a sucker for Christmas lights. They just make me smile.

I hate L.A.

Busy people aren't more important, they are just busy.

Things may not always look better in the morning. But be thankful that you woke up.

The sound of my boys laughing is the best remedy for a bad day.

How you spend your time defines who you are.

I'm doing exactly what I should be doing with my life.

May God grant me the years to grow in wisdom and knowledge.

Be well.