Reacting to MySpace
I JUST READ [Gary Stager's] article ("Guess Why They Call It MySpace," May 2006, page 78). While I agree with him in principle, we have blocked the site and others like it at our district. Why? Because we had one student threaten to kill another student using MySpace.
The "problem" the Internet has created is that there are no more rumors. If you hear something you can quickly see if it is true or not simply by accessing the Internet and the site(s) where it originated.
While this is a good problem to have, a school that has rumors posted on the Internet about other students at that school would make every student rush to find a computer with Internet access. We want to encourage students to use computers and use the Internet but there have to be limits to what should be considered appropriate behavior.
Director of Technology
Cambrian School District
San Jose, Calif.
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED [Gary Stager's] MySpace article. I am the mother of a 17-year-old as well as a public school guidance counselor and I couldn't agree with his perspective more.
I've been stating for months that the online world is truly my daughter's neighborhood-we live in a rural area of Maine and she would walk at least two miles before encountering a peer. We talk about her online life-but I am the outsider and she is free to share with me as is appropriate. I am a bit concerned that all of MySpace is public record. The police in our area used MySpace recently to determine the location of several parties, which they subsequently visited looking for illegal activity.
We are experimenting with a NET class here at Ellsworth High School that involves students and staff learning together as equals about various Internet topics-we look at the history, ethics, uses and future concerns of each topic strand-as you might imagine "online social networking" spurred great debate.
Ellsworth (Maine) High School
THANKS FOR THE GREAT SENSE [Gary Stager] spoke in his "My Space" article. As an instructor for an educational/treatment setting where many children have emotional disorders, I am one of the few adults the kids really talk to. MySpace, in the late fifties and early sixties, were the 'woods' behind our home, the 'other' kids basement, and yup, Bob's dad's repair garage, where Playboy and other 'girlie' magazines were tucked between the back wall and toilet tank of the men's room.
[Stager's] and my opinions may not be the popular ones, but thanks for voicing the fact adults need to continue to monitor and guide with deliberate and caring intent, and not suppress what is developmental and necessary "voicing" for our children. I am delighted to read and hear from someone else that sees that not all of the needs for kids need to be fixed by adults doing the thinking for them.
Jeffrey D. LaBarrett
Sports and Civics
I enjoyed reading your article on sports and their influence on civics ("Sports & Civics," May 2006, page 42). It was good to read that others associated with our profession realize and publicize the importance of athletics in producing good citizens. Many in my profession have known for years that through athletics we can more directly reach kids to help develop a sense of leadership, teamwork, duty, honor and respect.
However, I found this statement from the researchers to be somewhat comical: "The researchers were not able to draw any direct conclusions as to why student athletes were more engaged in their community, and considered the possibility that people who choose to do sports might naturally be more inclined to participate in civic affairs." The answer is probably much more complicated than what I believe, which is to say that people (coaches, teachers and parents) are responsible for teaching these life principles to those kids. ... We all realize that they are our future, and we strive to help produce the best possible person.
Greg George, Teacher/Coach
Mansfield High School, Mansfield, Texas