The word “perceptions” has been the theme of the day in my world.

I think it’s really interesting to note the opinions people develop based on their impressions from the media. I was listening to a conversation this morning where people were discussing how they feel the media is ruining the minds of our students and making them incapable of original thought. It was interesting for me then to observe the commentary that then shifted to how Twitter seems to be useless and a waste of time.

In this case I think the media has done a great deal to influence educated and very intelligent people to draw conclusions without first verifying the facts. In some ways I can agree that there are people out there who give updates that may seem useless or uninteresting to others, but in reality, who are we to judge what’s useless or not? Maybe Twitter is bridging the gap for some people and giving them a voice that they never really had before. Or maybe there are people out there who want to know these what others would consider “mundane” details and that’s perfectly acceptable. What frustrates me about this whole scenario is that educated people are under the impression that Twitter is just a time waster when they haven’t personally experimented with its applications and are just parroting the media.

The other aspect of this issue that has me thinking is hearing other teachers comment that social media is “ruining” our students’ minds. I’ve heard many comments lately suggesting that what our students do now in their personal time (Facebook, Myspace, texting, music choice, movie choice, etc.,) is leaving them devoid of substance. On one hand, I can see their point with the fact that most of this media is targeted at tweens and teens with the purpose of making a profit, but it’s what the students do with this social media that I think is being left out of the equation. Here are just a few of my observations:

* Students are far more connected than we were at that age. They have strong social networks with whom they engage on a very regular basis (communication).

* Many students also engage in “mash-ups” where they take two different ideas and put them together (creativity/synthesis).

* Many students have digital cameras, digital video cameras or phones that do still photos, videos or both that they use to create content and post it to the web (creativity/production).

* Students then view the works of others via Youtube, Facebook or other social networking sites and offer feedback (critical thinking/collaboration).

From what I can observe, I don’t think that what students are doing is a waste of time or making them devoid of substance, rather it’s practicing skills for their futures. Granted some of the content of their productions makes us adults cringe, I think the skills and creativity that goes into these productions is what needs to be celebrated.

Again these observations leave me pondering… are we that afraid to try something new? Are we just like Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose and afraid that engaging in this kind of behaviour will lead to something worse?

Unfortunately, what has me cringing is the irony of it all…

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