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  1. Why Johnny Can't Tweet
  2. Teach The Fundamentals at Home
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Teach The Fundamentals at Home

My use in the previous paragraph of the verb “to watch” is quite deliberate. I believe children under a certain age should be closely supervised when using the internet. That’s not going to happen with teacher/student ratios of 25-to-1.

The most important aspects of using social media are those that cannot and should not be left entirely to the schools, like common sense, privacy, avoiding sexual predators, and the importance of acting morally and ethically. A solid foundation in these life skills will apply no matter what changes occur in communications. These lessons could be applied 30 years ago to the use of a Compuserve bulletin board, or five years ago to AOL chat or instant messenger, and apply equally to Facebook and Twitter today, and to whatever comes along in 2015.

Is There a Place for Social Media Education?

In my book, SocialCorp, I argue that social media proficiency is the next required business skill, but people will perfect these skills in late high school and in university and adult education programs designed to address the use of social media social within a certain profession.

Seth Porges asks, for example, in an April 4 piece in Editor and Publisher, Are J-Schools Today Taking the Wrong Approach? “If I was a J-school dean, I'd offer classes on social media and blog outreach (something that is severely lacking from most J-schools), and teach students how to expand and adapt existing print stories for the Web,” Porges writes, and I agree. That is exactly the right place to teach social media.

My Plan

Here’s my plan for educating future generations of social media users:

  1. Teach the educational basics, like history, mathematics, geography, and science in primary school, to provide a foundation for lifelong context and critical thinking.
  2. Don’t waste the educational opportunities of early learning, or valuable classroom time and resources, teaching things that can be quickly and easily learned elsewhere.
  3. Leave most of the responsibility for lessons of morality, civility, protection of personal privacy, and accountability, to families, not educators.
  4. To a certain age, allow children to learn the basics of computer and Internet use at home, and outside the classroom, under the watchful eyes of parents.

For otherwise, we will be training a world of bloggers and tweeters, which may some day be as useful as a world of telex and fax machine operators. Which are not skills I would want to have as we endure a global financial crisis.

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