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I was sitting in a workgroup in my I.T. class, and we were talking about kids and internet and chat and kids and stuff. Someone said that a problem with enabling a youth discussion group was preventing people from flaming each other, relentlessly, all over the internet.

So this got me thinking ...

What is wrong with letting kids abuse the internet, and each other, as part of a course. We have mock weddings in planning, and we watch reenactments of abuse in H.A.C.E. Why not allow kids a chance to run wild and be cruel online. Cruel kids are cruel in the playground - they are being cruel wherever they can be cruel; if I, as a teacher, let kids be their own cruel selves on a message board, then I can talk to them about it because though I cannot control it, I can at least monitor it.

For as long as I have been in the school system there has been a problem with teaching people social responsibility: kids often play nice when they are under observation. Though a chatroom or message board may seem obviously observed - an experiment in Foucault's Panopticon - it is, in my humble opinion, the most likely place to observe candid behaviors in situi .

Kids today - actually all kids throughout history - have always found convenient places to bully or harass one another. Once this place was behind the school, but there was a chance of discovery, so when the internet came along, kids took bullying there (cyberbullying see here).

Even if a teacher sets up a message board, there will be some students lulled into a sense of security by 'The Internet'. 'The Internet' is a place where nasty, nasty trolls roam free. Even with trollhunters present, though, some trolls will dare.

What I propose is this: let the trolls model the 'what nots' so that we can turn their actions into teachable moments. We do this anyway! If a student dares to bully in front of a teacher, that teacher better damn well say something and turn the almost tragedy into a life lesson. Why not create more space for these moments?

Thats as far as I have gotten this week, with this thought...

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