Banning student-teacher Facebook interaction smart

Learning environments need to be kept public

With yesterday’s announcement, the Ontario College of Teachers is likely trying to prevent as much social media abuse from both students and teachers as possible.

While most teachers’ first reaction is “duh” to the news that they shouldn’t “friend” their students in Facebook or follow them on Twitter, in reality this rule now exists because some teachers don’t share that same reaction.

Most teachers, and even most students, recognize that becoming Facebook or Twitter friends with a teacher presents a host of uncomfortable — and potentially damaging — situations. That’s why even university professors like Leslie Chan have strict rules governing online interaction with current students.

But in what is widely being described as a prudent advisory to set the appropriate tone for all teachers, the College is making sure the rule is hereby carved in stone. And it’s a good thing, too.

All learning should take place in public where the opportunity for teachers and students to take advantage of each other is next to nothing. Engaging with students in any unregulated online capacity — whether it’s Facebook, email or instant messaging — effectively closes the door on any checks and balances that currently exist in the school system.

It’s the same logic that keeps parents from letting their children spend time alone with a teacher in an uncontrolled environment. Even teachers with the best of intentions can get caught in some very hot water.

This is where abuse happens. Just yesterday a teacher in Idaho pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a junior high school student. The teacher was suspended by the school district after he was accused of impersonating a teenage boy and engaging in sexual conduct online with a 14-year-old student. He is now facing up to 25 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

Students and teachers are a bit like church and state: They should be inherently separate. But just as in the separation of church and state, sometimes people try to blur the lines of division and must be reigned in. It’s inappropriate — and often criminal — when it happens, and we all shake our heads. But we have to recognize that it does happen and it makes rules like this one all the more necessary.




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Banning student-teacher Facebook interaction smart

  1. This is stupid, I do not really want to talk to any of my teachers on facebook or whatever, but i feel as if i should be allowed to if i want to…I know the intentions of this thing but if a teacher is going to have an inappropriate relationship with a student they will have it with or without facebook…there is no need to ban all of us from talking to our teachers because most teachers are professional and will not do that, and the ones that aren’t will do it with or without facebook.

  2. One teacher in Idaho pleads guilty to engaging in sexual conduct online with a 14-year old girl after impersonating a teenage boy and now Macleans wants us to blame it all on social media? Obviously, the Idaho teacher is a sick man who needs help. It’s bizarre to insinuate that teachers would start behaving this way just because of the technology. A person’s social ethics and morality are what dictate the use of technology.

    Social networks set up in a professional manner between students and teachers actually help both parties to behave in the same way they would in any public place such as a coffee shop or a mall. Teach proper use through education.

    The author needs to be corrected in stating “the College is making sure the rule is hereby carved in stone”. This is an incorrect assumption. An advisory is advice; a policy is a hard and fast rule. The main purpose of this advisory is meant to protect teachers from potential misinterpretations, leading to costly and embarrassing lawsuits. It wasn’t meant to cause alarm to the public by warning parents to lock up their children and cause general mistrust of teachers. Too bad Macleans interpreted it that way. Thanks for doing your part to set the teaching profession back a little further, as well as the integration of technology in education.

  3. Pingback: Teachers banned from friending students on Facebook – msnbc.com | facebook profit secret

  4. “Students and teachers are a bit like church and state: They should be inherently separate.”

    So, what about the classroom? Should we put teachers in glass cages?

    Social media can support real interactions in the classrooms – making it easier for the shy students to participate.

  5. It is sad that in this day and age that students and teachers can’t even become friends anymore since everyone is so paranoid that something bad is bound to happen in such a relationship. It is precisly because in recent years children tend to be over-sheltered that there is no trust anymore because of a lack of common sense in society to self-regulate itself. Facebook and its like are fairly recent phenomenons and are not the end all and be all of life and not all problems stem from them.

  6. I think it is good to ban the interaction

  7. Pingback: 15 Colleges with Strict Social Media Policies - BestCollegesOnline.com

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