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  • Writer's picturejmblanusa

Would You Friend Socrates on Facebook & Would He Friend You Back?

That was the title of a talk/workshop my colleague Todd Nelson and I gave at the 2013 National Association of Independent Schools conference. If we were to give it today, we'd find some way to add Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and AI to the title. But our purpose would be the same: To encourage educators to help students learn appropriate social media usage, the joys, advantages and dangers these forums provide, and to foster conversations among educators so they can share ideas about how these advances are impacting what we know, how we teach, and how we learn.

We chose Socrates because of his central tenet; KNOW THYSELF. Know who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to communicate it to the rest of the world. Know how your sense of self is influenced by others, by media, by algorithms, by what you read, what you hear, what you see. Know how to discern. Know how to recognize bias; yours and others. Know how you can effectively manage impositions, trolling (if possible), projections, jealousy, FOMO, being coerced into something you don't want to do, when your ethics are being challenged...determining what your ethics even are.

Todd has a background in K-8 education, and I in 9-12, college & grad school. We recognized technology and social media are here to stay, so we designed our talk for teachers across those grades. Our goal was the same for everyone however; to prepare our students to be discerning consumers and contributors on these exploding mass communication and delivery system forums.

Today, I know we'd include a serious discussion on what AI is, and how it is a part of every technological device, app, program we use. A discussion on AI ethics would be central.

So would discussions on deepfakes, the dark web, revenge porn, influencers....and every other term that's popping up to describe the ways social media, AI, and all of technology are affecting and transforming our lives.

Just as we did then, we'd ask the teachers who attended, to share ideas of what they could or currently do, to help their students be technologically literate and wise.

Schools need to take proactive steps to teach students about the technological revolution. It is their & our future. We need wise, thoughtful, ethical, inclusive consumers, builders and contributors. Schools can lay that groundwork to insure this happens, and launch our youth into adulthood, having addressed the challenges and transformations these changes are provoking, so when they become the adults - the active participants and protectors of our world - they arrive prepared to discuss, to think critically and ethically, and to be creative and innovative, to make sure these "advancements" really are as such - for everyone.

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