Thursday, December 12, 2013

Teacher overshare UPDATED

Another WWPD pet issue has made it to the wider world. Put another way: I have a new piece at The Atlantic, this time in the Education section. It's about teachers sharing about their students on Facebook, and more specifically, the horrible experience it must be to find your own errors shared and commented on by people you're supposed to trust. Or at least to have suspended disbelief re: the possibility of their finding you ridiculous. Read it! I promise it's better than my pre-coffee explanation.


So people are a lot less riled up about this than I'd thought they might be. One commenter points out FERPA, and claims that there's already a rule in place to prevent teachers from quoting students' work. In a non-blog-post-length version of this, that probably would have come up more explicitly (I allude to it in the last paragraph), but the short answer is, FERPA doesn't appear to cover the kinds of cases I'm talking about. Cases, that is, where student information is being shared, yes, but the only student who'll know which student's information it is is the student in question. I'm not a legal expert (you're shocked, I know), but my sense is, if you couldn't make the case that the student was identifiable, you couldn't claim that said student's academic record had been made public. Legal experts, am I missing something?

This isn't the kind of overshare, in other words, where someone's reputation is at stake. The fear isn't that people will Google the student and find some ridiculous thing they wrote on an exam, or in an email to a prof, and then lo and behold, potential employers and dates will lose interest. It's that something will change in the student-teacher relationship. Both the one between this student and this teacher, and the one between students and teachers generally, once it's public knowledge that many teachers find their students' missteps hilarious. It's a problem because of what it changes about the educational environment, and because of how gratuitously hurt a student's likely to be if they find one of these posts.

1 comment:

Petey said...

Publishing is very un-demure. Your rep is in jeopardy.


On the piece itself:

1) Can we all agree that if you are teaching one of your own children, it's OK to constantly share their foibles while naming the child? Two wrongs equal a right, if I remember my math properly. Plus, it could be hilarious.

2) I attribute this phenomenon to the rather recent taboo on dating students at the university level. Back when I was a TA, I'd guess a third to a half of my department were sleeping with undergrads. Thus, there was a sound reason to avoid making fun of your students, as it could negatively impact your dating pool.