About empathy, empowerment, social media and change

Photo by Jessica Podraza on Unsplash

I was thinking a lot about the readings of the 5th. week. At first impression, empathy and school social media policies policies doesn’t ring the bell to me. After doing some research and keeping on reflecting, everything comes to be connected.

Many questions…

Have you ever thought about our power and responsibility as educators to uplift our students’ abilities? As an educator, do you feel empowered by your administrators? If not, how can you empower your students? How can we influence students for the positive use of Social Media? How can we encourage innovation and not only ‘Action’? How can they go beyond the limits of their own inquiry and innovate? Become creators? So, student agency, it’s just an idea: easy to say, hard to do it?

Scott McLeod shares on his blog a list of resources that have been eating my brain going through a question after another one. In a world that is becoming more technological, and using tools that are reshaping global civilization. Our ways to communicate, socialize, trade and educate are changing fast, and there’s no way back. If you know an educator that is still attached to the past, because of his/her fears. Please, share this token of advice:

How to empower inhibit your school community in 5 steps:

  1. Just say no: “Prohibit’ rather than enable.
  2. Penalize all the community for the 5%: Never solved misused internet problems with the guilty one, just castigate everybody.
  3. Be restrictive: It’s easier than educate.
  4. Mistrust educators: Are you insecure about them? why are trusting them with children and not about their usage of the internet?
  5. Block everything: It’s the only way to offer 100% safety (and control anything)

“Please don’t block the future. Please, don’t relegate your students… to second-class status in the new economy because you left it to them and their families to figure out on their own what it means to be a digital global citizen” Scott McLeod.

Building a empathy in your school

Thinking about empathy, I recalled ‘Making Caring Common Project’ from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. They offer a variety of resources to educators and administrators to develop a ‘culture of empathy’ in their schools. In which, all the adults are involved. They state “When educators show that they care about everyone in the school community and expect students to do the same, it can help students open their eyes and ears to others, including those who are sometimes treated as invisible”.

Based on the previous readings, I can say that we need an empowered leader to guide the school through the path of empathy. A leader should inspire trust, empower people, be accessible to his/her community, communicate clear messages and, unite not divide. After that, it will be reflected in the teachers and students interactions.

Richard Weissbourd: Raising Caring, Respectful, and Courageous Children from Harvard University on Youtube

Richard Weissbourd, on this short Youtube video enhance the role of parents to develop empathy and improve their parenthood skills. It’s important to reinforce the role of parents and work together with teachers to empower children. Just after that, we can thing about a culture of empathy.

Social Media as an ‘media’ of change

I have a teen at home. She uses different social media to express herself and to connect with her friends 24/7. We can easily see that teenagers are using media to express themselves from Snapchat, Instagram to channels on Youtube. What is making them cross the gap between personal matters to community issues, civic problems, and global issues? Henry Jenkins talks about it in ‘How young activist use Social Media for a change: a transnational perspective’, he states that young people are tired and disappointed with the traditional politicians so they are looking for a way to communicate with people like them, who belong to their generation. They want to express their frustrations but make a change.

“We are finding young people constructing new forms of the civic imagination, using the resources of popular culture to help them articulate what a better future might look like.” Henry Jenkins

Greta Thunberg, Nabela Noor, Esra’a al Shafei are just a couple of examples of young people going beyond action with hope. They don’t have any monetary interest. We have all witness Greta on the news and her powerful speech about the need for change in the system ‘rules need to change’. How to go beyond personal and national interest to think globally. More ‘us’ less ‘me’.

Just a final question: How can we make a change in our educational systems to have more Gretas, Nabelas, and Esra’a?

Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture (Big Thinker series) Edutopia on Youtube

One thought on “About empathy, empowerment, social media and change

  1. I really appreciated your list of ways to inhibit your school community in 5 steps. #5 – Block everything – it’s the only way to offer 100% safety was the one that stood out to me. I am at a school with a 1:1 iPad program in elementary, and this issue has always been an ongoing debate.

    We do not block any sites, and every year, regardless of how many conversations you have, there are always students accessing sites or resources that they shouldn’t be. When this happens, in the moment I often wish that we were able to block certain sites. However, I have come to really appreciate that we don’t.

    In this NYT article, this statement really resonated with me, “Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice.” When we don’t give students the opportunity to think for themselves, we take away learning opportunities from them. We are inhibiting instead of empowering.

    I am curious about your school’s approach…are there any sites that you do block? Do you find it effective?

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