You Mean My Principal Can See My Facebook Page??!?

by Robert Pondiscio
April 28th, 2008

Yes.  And your students’ parents.  Your students, too.

That giant snapping sound you hear is the sound of teachers–if they have the brains that God gave a giraffe–restricting access to their Facebook and MySpace pages after reading this article in today’s Washington Post.  Seems there are a few molders of impressionable young minds who exercise questionable judgement in what they see fit to post on their personal pages.

“I know that employers will look at that page, and I need to be more careful,” says Erin Jane Webster, a substitute teacher in Prince William County, Virginia.  (OMG, Erin! Ya think?) “At the same time, my work and social lives are completely separate. I just feel they shouldn’t take it seriously. I am young. I just turned 22.”  The Post describes part of Miss Webster’s page as suggesting its author “is in the throes of sorority rush.”

One wonders how the “completely separate” and “I’m only 22″ line will work on her students’ parents at Meet the Teacher night.  On second thought, why wonder?  She’ll probably put it on YouTube. 

Update:  Joanne Jacobs weighs in, as does Eduflack.

Incidental Intelligence

by Robert Pondiscio
April 28th, 2008

How much informal or “free choice” science knowledge do children pick up outside of school? We might have a better grasp of the answer this summer when the The National Academies, a congressionally chartered nonprofit group that advises the federal government, will release a report on what’s known about the role in science education played by museums, zoos and aquariums.

It will be interesting to see what the study finds—and if the data will be broken out by socioeconomic group. Educators concerned about the narrowing of curriculum in the age of No Child Left Behind, present company included, worry that advantaged students feel the impact of curriculum narrowing less acutely than disadvantaged children, who are less likely to visit museums and zoos, or have other out-of-school opportunities for free choice science education.

“The report comes as experts bemoan a lack of scientific education and literacy among Americans,” notes the Associated Press. “They warn of a shortfall in homegrown engineers and scientists to keep the nation competitive, a general work force ill-equipped to function in an increasingly high-tech workplace, and a citizenry struggling to grasp complex public issues like stem cell research. While that has led to calls for changes in schools, science museums — broadly defined to include a range of science-oriented places to visit — can also play a big role in teaching and promoting science to both children and adults.”

Art for Art’s Sake

by Robert Pondiscio
April 28th, 2008

“If arts education stakes its claim to students’ time and schools’ money on some unproven power to push standardized test scores upward, its position in American schools is bound to be precarious,” notes Ann Hulbert in the New York Times Magazine. She was responding to a claim made by Barack Obama on the campaign trail that “children who learn music actually do better in math, children whose imaginations are sparked by the arts are more engaged in school.”

A direct link between arts education and higher test scores is elusive, Hulbert notes, but that’s not a reason to ignore the arts in school. Citing research by Ellen Winner, a Boston College professor of psychology, and Lois Hetland, who teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she notes evidence that engaging in in art and music in school helps students develop “persistence in tackling problems, observational acuity, expressive clarity, reflective capacity to question and judge, ability to envision alternative possibilities and openness to exploration.”