A License to Chat

Earlier this week, there were a number of retweets and Facebook shares about this article, “New Filipino Law Requires All Students to Plant 10 Trees to Graduate”


Having students contribute so significantly to their own future is innovative, creative and meaningful. The impact of such a law will be felt on a global scale.

In Ontario, students are required to perform 40 hours of community service. As both a mom and a school administrator I have seen examples where a student has taken this requirement seriously and other cases where it becomes a case of “find anything” in order to gain the appropriate signatures.  Community service has become a subjective term and hence I am not sure that we can be assured that all graduating students have equally given back to their communities in order to gain their diploma.

With this new Filipino law, there is now an intentional partnership between Education and other departments such as agriculture and the environment. Modeling that partnership bodes well for the Filipino people. In addition, the planting of trees is a tangible task that has an easy to monitor outcome.

Requirements to graduate ties in nicely to a conversation that we were having yesterday in relations to elementary students and access to social media platforms such as Snapchat. We are finding that a number of our students, who present so kindly and mature in person, are resorting to nasty, rude and inappropriate posts within various chat rooms. In addition, for those students who are being targeted with unkind words, it is becoming more evident that their sense of self-worth and their confidence are being compromised by the ongoing online insults.  It is heartbreaking to read what is being posted online and even more painful to think about an 11-year-old girl reading such nasty, negative things about herself.  We can continue to provide learning opportunities focusing on digital citizenship and we can continue to provide parents with the suggestion of “turning off the tech” if it is becoming harmful and hurtful ~ but it does not seem as if that is enough.  We have found ways to monitor use at school ~ but that still leaves a lot of evening and weekend access.

In our conversation, we could not help but wonder what our current elementary world would look if students needed to pass a test (something similar to a driver’s test) before being granted access to such platforms. An opportunity to learn how to communicate online appropriately as well as the negative impact of being unkind when online.  Many of us remember the videos of car accidents that they showed us in Driver’s Ed class. What would it look like if the “entry screen” to Snapchat required the user to watch a reminder video ~ would it make a difference?  I wonder if the online conglomerates would consider adding features that block unkind, cruel words and phrases. I know that we cannot completely shelter our students from such cruelty, but it would certainly make this world a better place.

Let us give our students a healthy mind and a healthy sense of self in order to enjoy the healthy environment that our Filipino friends are working on creating.

Come Write with me….