On Constitution Day, a student asked US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer if he ever gets in arguments with the other justices. Before the student could finish his question, Justice Breyer was already saying “yes.” The student went on to ask how they work through it. Advance to 27:11 in this video to hear a most fascinating tale of how nine people who tackle some of the most controversial issues of our time do so without ever raising a voice.
He says some important things about civil discourse. They listen to each other. They take time to write down what others are saying. They add commentary when they have something helpful to add.
At 29:52 Breyer tells us he has been there for 20 years and has never heard a Justice raise his voice. He’s never heard a Justice be rude or even joke about another. He says it’s civil, polite, and professional even though they might strongly disagree with one another. What a great example they are for how humans should behave when they disagree.
This week, we are asked to consider both sides of an issue. I chose to consider the blur between personal and professional due to social media. In other words:
Should teachers face consequences at work for their behavior on social media?
Those who believe that teachers (professionals) should be held accountable for what they share on social media likely have a lot of reasons. It is also likely that there is a lot of variety in what these people think is acceptable/uacceptable behavior for teachers on social media.
In this article, a teacher has gotten herself into trouble by pinning Some eCards content. The teacher didn’t create the image, she just found humor in it and curated it using a bookmarking tool that happens to be set to public.
To some, this is perfectly acceptable. To others it might be the online equivalent of laughing out loud at a tasteless joke. It happens; most of us regret it later. It’s certainly not a firing offense.
To others, teachers are held to some higher standard than the common worker. They are too pure to have similar feelings as others in the service industry. Their altruism is their defining character. In some places, teachers are not supposed to drink, smoke, have tattoos or a coarse sense of humor in their personal lives. If they do, they should do so only in privacy. The truth is that teachers are held to different standards by many than those in other professions.
I’m not so sure that it is a bad idea to have expectations for how teachers behave. I’m not looking to turn the clock back to 1923 or anything extreme. (By extreme, I mean a teacher in “hot water” over the repinning of Some eCards. Absurd imo.) Teachers are models of digital citizenship.
On the other hand, I think that it is awful to hold people to different social standards. What do you think?
Here’s how I resolve it. What if we all just behaved on social media as if our grandparents were following us? Or if we aren’t going to behave that way, could we take time to select our audience before we post? There is no mainstream social media site that doesn’t allow users privacy if users choose it. That means the only excuses for teachers or anyone for that matter posting things that will get them in trouble is probably a lack of judgment or a lack of understanding about privacy settings.