A few weeks ago I held an assembly on the exponential growth of technology. When I entered the profession we weren’t using email, if someone wanted to send you a message they would stand up from their chair, walk down the corridor and speak to you. This made communication relatively expensive; you had to go to some effort, consider how you were going to deliver your message and then deliver it using the appropriate body language. After a few years emails appeared and we could dish out missives like confetti. I could receive emails from my line manager giving me my deadlines, when I was a head of school teachers could send me furious emails about the behaviour of students; I learned about alerts when an email popped up on the screen, in front of an assembly of 500 students, from a frazzled history teacher who was less than complimentary about a boy on the second row.
Then, about 10 years ago social media began and communication became even cheaper. You could throw language into cyberspace, network with people from the other side of the world, bully classmates online and engage in online echo chambers that convince you that your opinions are the only ones worth having. Language is cheaper and you no longer have to look the person in the eye when you deliver your message. This is a seismic shift and I don’t yet think that we have fully understood what it means for us or our young people. If we can speak without consequence, and if the ‘truth’ becomes more a concept than a concrete, the function of education becomes ever more important. I guess I will always be running to catch up!
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