Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Perfect Attendance and the Privacy of Blogs

I have been thinking about a couple of news articles I have read in the past week. I am too lazy to go looking for the links so I apologize for that.

  • The first one was about some high schools giving rewards to kids with perfect attendance. Sometimes it was cash but one school was giving away a car! I had some mixed feelings about these programs. On the one hand, they are reinforcing the concept that there is some value to just showing up. People forget that a lot of the time. As a person who has been in the position to manage others, I have been surprised at how many people don’t get that simple concept. I have seen a lot of people lose jobs because of attendance. I have also seen some *seriously* lazy people keep jobs far longer than they should have because they showed up every day.

    But, on the other hand, it probably isn’t kids who don’t know that there is value in simply attending school who are likely to have a chance at getting the prize in such programs. It is probably the kids who already have pretty good attendance who are in the running for the cash prizes or the car or whatever. So what are those programs really teaching those kids? That they should push themselves all the time, even when they are sick. That their own selfish desire for the prize is more important than everyone else’s health. I mean, any kid that has perfect attendance has almost certainly come into school when they are sick and spread it around.

  • The second article was about teenagers and blogs. Apparently some school here in Michigan suspended some kids from sports and a school dance because of things that school officials read on their blogs. Again, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I am not sure school officials should ever feel that they are responsible for policing kids’ after school activities. I also think that it is unfortunate that they should take something like blogging which could be a very valuable educational tool and then essentially discourage it by punishing kids because of what they write there. People are always talking about how kids these days cant read and write as well as folks in the past did although I am not sure if that is true. Still, it cant hurt to encourage reading and writing. Both skills, by the way, that are necessary if one wishes to blog.

    On the other hand, I think that a lot of teenagers forget that blogs are public and that anyone can read them. Heck, I found out the hard way that even if you don’t use your full name, a blog can be discovered by an especially determined person. And even though in my case, my blog was discovered because I told someone I trusted about it and they told someone else, the point is that blogs are always public or have the potential to be. Therefore, it is always a good idea to be careful about what one writes. And these kids were writing some pretty stupid stuff…essentially admitting to criminal activity online and providing proof in the form of photographs. I see this all the time with blogs and especially blogs written by teenagers. So the punishment for the activities described in blogs probably is a very good lesson that once something like a blog is unleashed onto the internet, it isn’t private anymore.

    Surely there must be a solution other than banishment from school sponsored extra curricular activities that can bring the point home that blogs aren’t private. Heck, just have Mrs Oldlady the math teacher or Mr Crustybones from the English dept leave a comment or two. “Oh Skippy, *that* is SUCH a funny story, you should tell it in class on Monday” That would clue ‘em in right quick let me tell you.


E-Speed said...

Imagining one of my profs reading my blog in high school or college. I would definitely think that would deter me from posting anything incriminating. I, like you, am amazed at what some people post on the internet in terms of incriminating pictures. Defys logic.

islandarts said...

I used to have perfect attendance all the time- when the only reward was a fricken sticker. I went to school with the intestinal flu one year and aplethera of sicknesses another year. But by golly I didn't miss a thing. i always used to say "if you attend class everyday, you shouldn't need to study that hard because you haven't missed anything." I never studied hard and was always an A= student. somethin' to be said for simply showing up. wish i had been able to get some cash (or a CAR) out of the deal!!!

as in all things, there is a difference between writing a blog and writing a GOOD blog. Most teenage blogs are too boring for words (even for me!). I have most definitely mentioned a few things in my past blogs that I shouldn't have but I am much more aware of what i say these days.
that all being said,
Teenagers are so silly sometimes.

Anonymous said...

i'm back!
great post!
after having a bit of a scare with my tblog and my old boss reading it, i am much more mindful of the perks of being anonymous. there wasnt anything really incriminating on my old blog, but still, the fact that he read it made me feel icky!