Testing Teachers

I have only watched part of the SBS documentary Testing Teachers. A young teacher was trying to teach year 8 science class with a baseball hat-wearing swear bear – while also trying to sort out an on-going social-war between a group of students. Most interestingly, the solution (monitor modelling and role playing) was based around the experience of an other teacher. The incidents on camera were both based on the students’ use of media and devices.

The is a clearly a big problem with students at this age using devices as extensions of their social exploration of the world around them – and the boundaries of behaviour and cultural acceptance. It is utterly naive for any parent to believe that once they have enabled a teen with Instagram, Messenger, Yellow app etc., are not at significant risk of being part of toxic image sharing, group trash talk etc.,

Children are not users of phones. They are active agents in cultural reproduction of media – some of which is not simply negative, but a proving ground for the adult-toxic content and behavior online – and in the work place.

Some are obviously creators of this, some are invited in (and don’t feel like they should declines) and there are more that are more than willing to find this negative and insulting culture amusing. The issue is that the bystanders are also enablers and influencers. They believe as they don’t post, that they are not as responsible as the person who did.

We know that social media is a medium of cultural reproduction. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that young people have poor judgement when it comes to isolating entertainment fiction from reality. So a child who’s involved is not behaving in isolation from real life. Children who present defiant and challenging behaviors in class – happy to defy instructions, socialise rather than try their best appear (to me) to also be invested in their personal phone. While I’m sure the parents provide it for communications home – they cannot escape the fact that poor phone behaviour and poor classroom behaviour are more than co-incidental.  Of course some kids will directly challenge teachers anyway – but this show’s director UN-intentally showed the link between phones, apps, behaviour and the amount of time schools now invest in dealing with this problem – directly – and the indirect behaviours that result from so called private conversations that spur on behavior, create in-group belief about taste and decency etc.,

I can imagine that the outraged and helicopter parents would instantly say “that teacher needs to control the class”. No, sweetie – control your own behavior. Then walk a mile in the teachers shoes.