Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Redefining Citizenship

One of the strands of ICT in the PYP is becoming responsible digital citizens.  In the document, the Role of ICT in the PYP, it is defined in the following way:
Becoming a responsible digital citizen involves using ICT to make informed and ethical choices while acting with integrity and honesty.  In a globally connected digital world, learners are empowered to be responsible for their actions, to value others' rights and to practise safe and legal behaviours.
I've been thinking about this as I have started to read Jason Ohler's new book Digital Community, Digital Citizen.  In the introduction to this book Ohler writes about how it is the shifting of society that is leading to a redefinition of citizenship during periods of large-scale transformational events such as revolutions.  What emerges at the end of these periods is a new understanding of what is truly important as individuals' rights, duties and participation change in a new social order.  The important point about this redefinition, Ohler writes, is that as societies redefine their hopes and aspirations, what they want their education system to accomplish also changes.

Over the past few years we've been told by prominent writers and speakers such as Seth Godin and Sir Ken Robinson that the education system that was designed to fit the factory economy is no longer relevant.  As we think about what new skills our students need for their lives, we cannot do this without also thinking about the technology that will be part of their lifestyles.  If we as teachers don't address the emerging issues such as internet safety and responsible digital citizenship, then who do we expect will do it?  Jason Ohler writes:
If schools don't make it their primary mission to help students understand not only how to use technology but also when and why, then we have no right to expect our children to grow up to be the citizens we want the to be and that the world needs them to be ... If we don't help our digital kids balance personal empowerment with a sense of community responsibility, then future generations will inherit a world that does not represent anyone's dream of what is best for humanity.
Photo is of a wall painting at our secondary school campus 

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