jump to navigation

Online and out there: how children view privacy differently from adults July 14, 2015

Posted by sethuws in Early Childhood Education, Education Policy and Politics, Primary Education, Role of the family, Secondary Education.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

from Joanne Orlando

Children growing up in a world of social media are developing a very different conception of privacy to that of their parents. Ed Ivanushkin/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Have you seen the how-to video of a teenage girl styling her hair that went disastrously wrong? She was obviously very disturbed by what happened, yet still uploaded the footage onto YouTube. Do you think a 45 or 50 year-old would upload an equivalent video of themselves?

The majority of young people now share lots of things online that many adults question and feel uncomfortable about: their likes, dislikes, personal views, who they’re in a relationship with, where they are, images of themselves and others doing things they should or maybe shouldn’t be doing.

In fact, a study undertaken in the US by Pew Research found that 91% of 12-to-17-year-olds posted selfies online, 24% posted videos of themselves. Another 91% were happy posting their real name, 82% their birthday, 71% where they live and the school they attend, 53% their email address and 20% their mobile phone number.


Children’s fondness for online sharing is a global phenomenon, and in response governments internationally have initiated awareness campaigns that aim to ensure children are more private online.

In the UK, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children recently launched a Share Aware campaign. This includes the recent TV advertisement, called I saw your willy, which depicts the ill-fated consequences of a young boy who as a joke, texts a photo of his penis to his friend.

The ad emphasises to children the need to keep personal information about themselves offline and private.

Similarly the Australian Federal Police have launched Cyber safety and ThinkUKnow presentations for school students, which highlights the social problems that can arise when you’re having fun online.

Adults often interpret children’s constant online sharing to mean that they don’t care about privacy and/or don’t understand the potential longer-term issues. There is some truth to this perspective. But simply labeling children as either disobedient or naïve is too simplistic. There is an important need to understand why children are overstepping adult-defined marks of privacy online.

Shifting attitudes

In the words of Facebook, our relationship status with privacy can be summed up as: it’s complicated.

Part of the complexity comes down to how privacy is defined. Many adults understand privacy to mean being selective about what one reveals about themselves so as not to reveal too much personal information. We often assume that children will adopt the same conceptualisation, but should we?

Privacy is a fluid notion. Think of Victorian times and the imperative for women to keep their ankles hidden. Part of the reason its definition is shaped and reshaped is due to the changing social environment in which we live. This idea is useful for thinking about why children divulge so much information online.

Children are growing up in public (not private) times, in which people freely and constantly reveal themselves on their screens. This is not solely associated with physical nudity and the stream of semi-clad women that constantly inhabit advertisements, music videos and the like. An environment that idolises nudity certainly contributes to children seeing such behaviour as the norm. Privacy, however, is not just about nudity and sex.

Given the exponential growth of reality shows and social media, children now have unprecedented access to the inner thoughts and personal actions of others. Children are growing up watching real people freely share their deep personal ideas, experiences, opinions and actions. The very purpose of these mediums is to encourage such sharing of information!

Children watch everyday people in the Big Brother house openly discuss their sexual experiences, develop friendships, go to the toilet, get ready after their morning shower and, explain deep personal childhood issues.

Similarly, they watch Survivor and The Bachelor where people can reveal the darker side of their ambitions, world-views and ways of dealing with others. Their revelations are under the guise of competition however they offer subliminal messages about what we can and should share publicly share.

Consistently watching others reveal themselves on screen feeds children’s understanding of what is private information and what isn’t. Its impact is strengthened because children watch these revelations on their personal screen such as their tablet or mobile, which can make it more of an intimate, one to one connection for the child.


Children are growing up in a world saturated in social media, and their notion of privacy is adapting in response. Jim Sneddon/Flickr

Generation gap

Add to this, the dynamic stage in life young people are at, which is characterised by risk-taking behaviour. This combination results in the understanding that sharing what many adults might consider to be private ideas, is really just part of life.

In previous generations it was assumed that the average person wouldn’t want to give up privacy. But for this generation, giving up privacy for a social life, fame (or infamy for some), easy access to shopping and studying or working from home is the norm.

Children’s penchant for online sharing is a much larger cultural transformation than it’s given credit for. The whole idea of what is private and what is public is being disrupted and reshaped by new screen-driven interests and activities.

There is a need to move away from simply judging and reprimanding for their online sharing habits. There is always a need for safety and awareness campaigns, although it is also important to move beyond older and outmoded views of privacy so that we can actually understand young people’s privacy negotiations.

In this way we might have more of a chance to meaningfully support negotiations that are transparent, equitable and foster children’s well-being.


This post was previously published on The Conversation.


Dr Joanne Orlando is a senior lecturer in the School of Education and an early career researcher in the Centre for Educational Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.


There’s more to education than spelling and numbers November 4, 2014

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
Tags: , , , ,

from Associate Professor Sue Roffey

Headlines in newspapers on a recent Monday morning said much of the curriculum review that has been welcomed across Australia. The removal of the four “general capabilities” from the curriculum is a travesty many are yet to recognise.

The four “general capabilities” are personal and social capability, critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding. Are thinking and creativity now considered irrelevant for education?

Research suggests these are critical skills for innovation, problem-solving, empathy, evaluation, knowledge application and mental health. These skills are also necessary for the promotion of a democratic society. Young people need to be able to think for themselves and make up their own minds about their values, who they become and what they do.

The reduced focus on personal and social capability also makes little sense.  Relationships are not the soft and fluffy end of education; they are the central plank of how we learn and how well we live our lives. They determine our ability to contribute to both the world of work and society.

Confederation of British Industry director-general John Cridland says that over half of British firms are concerned about the self-management and resilience of school leavers, who must be better prepared for life outside the school gates.

Eton College headmaster Tony Little has expressed concern over the narrowing of the curriculum:

A sharp focus on performance is a good thing, but there is a great deal more to an effective and good education than jostling for position in a league table … Most of us as parents want our children to become capable adults, able to look after themselves and their own families, but we want them to be good citizens, too.

The US Department of Defence funded research leading to the Wingspread Declaration on School Connections, a document highlighting the need for a sense of belonging for effective education.

There is now a raft of Australian and international evidence  for what constitutes authentic well-being for young people and how a focus on student well-being underpins universal learning outcomes, mental health for the vulnerable and pro-social behaviour. Healthy relationships with teachers, families and peers are integral to this.

Many of our young people are not learning the values and skills needed outside of school. Most teachers are doing a great job, despite the pressures on them to focus on test results. The evidence for the benefit of social and emotional learning in the curriculum is overwhelming. In the US a meta-analysis of 213 social and emotional learning programs showed that academic outcomes for participating students had an 11% improvement in academic skills compared to control groups.

It is hardly surprising that some of our most privileged and advantaged schools are taking student well-being – “learning to be” and “learning to live together” – seriously. Prestigious and successful schools such as Geelong Grammar, The Knox School and St Peters in Adelaide have a heavy focus on these attributes.

We need to go beyond the economic, rote-learning mindset, which is singularly concerned with the acquisition and regurgitation of facts. There is great concern that the race to the top in PISA rankings is undermining the education our children and our country really needs. What is the point of top marks in all subjects if you are unable to live a fulfilling life?

And what about valuing all of those children who are never going to be academic stars, but have other things to offer? Don’t they count?

Our education system is about the future of Australia, our democracy, our future mental health and our ability to contribute within our community. Relationships matter, resilience matters. Teachers, researchers and many parents know this, so why don’t the reviewers?

Sue Roffey is an adjunct associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She is also Chair of Wellbeing Australia and co Lead Convenor of the Student Wellbeing Action Network which is part of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

A Geography of Hope. August 11, 2013

Posted by christinefjohnston in Social Ecology.
Tags: , , ,

Dr Carol Birrell

 A few weeks ago when I was picking up my grandson from his pre-school, he was keen to show me their latest display on a large noticeboard in the centre of the indoor classroom. On it were posted pictures of extinct or near-extinct species of animals with accompanying statements listing surviving numbers and original numbers. It was enough to depress me in an instant! However, what dominated my thoughts was the impact on these young children of such devastating information. I had to ask myself, how do they manage such information, if it is barely possible for me as a mature adult to manage it?

Educator David Sobel has a solid critique of education that may do more harm than good:

 Lurking underneath ‘environmentally correct’ curricula is the assumption that if children see the horrible things that are happening, then they too will be motivated to make a difference. But those images can have an insidious, nightmarish effect on young children whose sense of time, place and self are still forming… what’s important is that children have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it and feel comfortable in it, before being asked to heal its wounds[1].

 In this contemporary world of impending planetary disaster, of economic and political collapse, of rampant fears around health, disease, invasion and war, to list just a few, we are immersed, in fact, in a culture of ‘doom and gloom’. No person is immune to it.

  I came across an expression in relation to this, but in fact its antithesis, that resonated deeply and that I wish to explore further, called ‘A Geography of Hope’. Wallace Stegner, an American author, coined the expression to address the value of ‘hope’ as an idea as well as a place.[2]

 I initially trained as a Geographer and taught this subject in high schools and primary schools for over 20 years. However, I am not sure of the shape of A Geography of Hope, of its look or feel, but I know it is something I need, both as a teacher and more generally, in my life. In the face of this powerful statement, I wish to explore it as an antidote to the pervasive negativity that infects all of us, our students included. And I want to ask the question,

 ‘How do we cultivate A Geography of Hope in our classrooms?’

 I believe this is crucial in our education systems in this moment of time. It demands a shift from negativity, of despair and disempowerment, to a vision of hope that can be owned and embodied in our classes. It is not a positioning that is trying to avoid the truth, to disguise reality under some sort of ‘Pollyanna’ ruse. It may be seen as essential to our mental/physical/emotional/spiritual health and hence to our learning and pedagogical practices.

 David Orr gives us some pointers here:

  ‘The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.’[3]

Take one example of what I would incorporate under the notion of A Geography of Hope: that of the fostering and understanding of beauty in our lives. How could we bring ‘beauty’ more into our classrooms? Of course, we could have more living plants, creatures, art works, images of beautiful natural scenes, poetry, music, planted in the everyday lives of our students (Alas! Far removed from university classrooms!!). It may also reside in our own beings, as a geographic location with its points of longitude and latitude clearly demarcated. If I can hold a map of beauty in my being, in the world, in others, in plants and animals, in the not-so beautiful, and hold that as a central fulcrum in my classes, then it has a tangible presence and can exert influence. It is the ‘still point of the turning world’ in T.S. Eliot’s poem from which waves continue to move outwards[4]. Beauty gives us hope.  

Some recent research in Finland inspired me. People were encouraged to write letters to friends about beauty in their everyday lives- this took place in a small Arctic village over one year. The researcher states:

 ‘Beauty, in these letters, became as if a verb: a continuous, open-ended process of articulating the ways in which one is interwoven with and conditioned by one’s surrounding environment. Articulating beauty in everyday life was proven a practice that sustains sensory attentiveness, openness and imaginative interest towards the material world [5].

Imagine if that kindy noticeboard took beauty as its environmental theme!

 My grandson Sam stops me to take in a particularly stunning sunset, a softly rounded smooth rock, a mosquito on his arm, a strange word that tickles his fancy. He continues to cultivate in me, this notion of beauty and through it, unmistakably, a notion of hope.

 When I begin to contemplate the contours of A Geography of Hope, I am thinking about love, joy, awe, friendship and beauty. I want a classroom brimming with these! Is it possible? I can only hope!   


[1] Sobel, D. (1996) Beyond Ecophobia, The Orion Society, Great Barrington, MA

2 Stegner, W. http://www.angelfire.com/journal/worldtour99/hope.html accessed 5/8/13

3Orr, D (2004). Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Island Press, USA.

4 Elliott, T.S. Four Quartets http://www.coldbacon.com/poems/fq.html accessed 8/8/13

5 Rautio, P. (2013)  Children who carry stones in their pockets. Children’s Geographies, DOI:10.1080/14733285.2013.812278

Dr Carol Birrell in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney

The power of technologies for conceptual change September 9, 2012

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

from Dr Chwee Beng Lee

Conceptual change remains one of the most essential outcomes of learning. It is an intentional and constructive effort to bring about deep understanding. Conceptual change theories describe how people revise their conceptual frameworks and their belief systems as a result of cognitive perturbations.

In the past, conceptual change research tended to focus on the change of individuals’ conceptual frameworks, and relied on creating cognitive conflicts to achieve conceptual change. However, in recent years, researchers have raised issues of the motivational, affective, and contextual factors implicated in conceptual change (Gregoire, 2003; Murphy, 2007) and the importance of a sociocultural perspective in understanding conceptual change. There are also considerable efforts in discussing and exploring effective strategies to foster conceptual change.

Although conceptual change can be induced through strategies such as using structural alignment as analogical learning (Mason, 2004), collaborative reasoning, (Anderson et al., 2001; Clark et al., 2003), knowledge building (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006) and many other approaches, technology is increasingly playing a powerful and critical role in the process of not only fostering individual (Lee & Jonassen, 2012) but also social conceptual change.

Jonassen (in press) argues that conceptual change is more than a realignment or restructuring of ideas but rather, it results from interactions of minds with other minds in the world. With the exponential growth in online communities such as Facebook, learners’ ideas and conceptions are constantly exposed to the challenges posed by the community members or even others outside the community. The power of social media is fast altering the belief systems of individual and social groups. Mainstream media no longer plays a dominant role in disseminating information. On the other hand, social media is highly efficient in delivering the most updated information as well as influencing our belief systems as it has the affordances of multimodalities which mainstream media does not.

What is most intriguing about social media is that it has the power to achieve large scale and immediate conceptual change. Such change includes changes in conceptions of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech as they are defined among these social groups. In some Asian countries where governments were once considered unchallenged, ultimate authoritative bodies are now being constantly questioned for their roles, functions and actions in these virtual realities. The formation of online communities not only forms “group beliefs” or “social beliefs” but also influences one’s identity and belief systems. With this in mind, educators must acknowledge the power and influences of social media in changing the conceptions of individuals and social groups.

Instead of relying on instructions and technologies that may foster the individual’s conceptual framework, there is a more urgent need to explore ways to integrate social media into classrooms for positive individual and social change in conceptions, as well as belief systems. However, this may be a daunting task, as conceptual change is a highly complex process and we have yet to fully understand the affordances of technologies for deep learning, let alone the complexities involved in propelling change among social groups. Possible research questions that deserve our attention may include: what are the roles of social media in fostering individual as well as social conceptual change? How do we capture and assess such changes? What kind of instructions can drive positive change? 

References:   Anderson, R. C., Nguyen-Jahiel, K., McNurlen, B., Archodidou, A., Kim, S. Y., Reznitskaya, A., Tillmanns, M., & Gilbert, L. [2001]. The snowball phenomenon: Spread of ways of talking and ways of thinking across groups of children. Cognition and Instruction, 19[1], 1-46.    Clark, A. M., Anderson, R. C., Kuo, L. J., Kim, I. H., Archodidou, A., & Nguyen-Jahiel, K. [2003]. Collaborative reasoning: Expanding ways for children to talk and think in school. Educational Psychology Review, 15[2], 181-198.   Gregoire, M. [2003]. Is it a challenge or a threat? A dual-process model of teachers’ cognition and appraisal processes during conceptual change. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 147-179.   Jonassen, D. H. (In press). The impact of technology on conceptual change: Past and future. In C.B. Lee., & D.H. Jonassen (Eds.). Fostering Conceptual Change with Technologies. Cengage Learning.    Lee, C. B., & Jonassen, D. H. (2012). An introduction: technologies for conceptual change.  In C.B. Lee., & D.H. Jonassen (Eds.). Fostering Conceptual Change with Technologies. Cengage Learning.   Mason, L. [2004]. Fostering understanding by structural alignment as a route to analogical learning. Instructional Science, 32, 293-318.   Murphy, P. K. [2007]. The eye of the beholder: The interplay of social and cognitive components in change. Educational Psychologist, 42[1], 41-53.    Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. [2006]. Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In R. K. Sawyer [Ed.], The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences [pp. 97-118]. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Chwee Beng Lee is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where she lectures in learning design and pedagogy in the Master of Teaching (Secondary) program. She joined UWS  from the National Institute of Education, Singapore, at the beginning of 2012.

Citius, Altius, Fortius: Olympic Education as an authentic learning experience June 17, 2012

Posted by Editor21C in Engaging Learning Environments, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Social Justice and Equity through Education.
Tags: , ,

from Dr Jorge Knijnik

In a few weeks the world’s attention, and certainly the interest of most Australians will turn to the 2012 London Olympics – the paramount sports events on Earth. All media will be highlighting the world’s ‘faster, higher and stronger’ athletes and parathletes. It will be quite impossible to escape from the powerful stories and images that will abound over our TV shows, the internet, and newspapers. The prowess of athletes from all nations, and even their failures, make fascinating dramas that rouse the curiosity of people from all sorts of backgrounds and ages.

Of course school communities are not immune to this universal movement. Children and adolescents, teachers and parents, the whole school community could be consumed with the Olympic Games. So, why do we not take this fascinating moment in our planet’s life and use it to teach? Schools and teachers should be prepared to take the Olympics into account while planning their lessons for the next couple of months.  Our students could ‘learn with the Olympics’, discuss its story and also examine the values and beliefs that the Olympic philosophy – Olympism – is based upon. They could investigate how it might or might not inspire the new generations. And more, as the Olympics is a universal event, is it possible to consider the existence of universal values connected to this movement, as proposed by the advocates of the Olympism and the Olympic Education?

Sport, the ethos of sport as well as all the individual sports, is still the essence of Olympism, which, as a philosophy is based on a true belief that sport should be a tool for humankind’s educational, social and moral development. The founder of the modern Olympic movement and first president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the French nobleman, Pierre de Coubertin, considered education through sport to be one of the “cornerstones of the Olympic Movement” (Knijnik & Tavares, 2012). Coubertin regarded sport as a powerful tool that might “be chivalrous or corrupt, manly or bestial”, … that could “be used to solidify peace or prepare to war” (de Coubertin 1894, 1). Hence, Olympism aims to deliver an Olympic Education which draws on the practical experiences provided by sporting engagement as a vehicle to incorporate and promote values education.

However, recent research in this area has demonstrated that values education needs to take in account a diverse variety of contents and educational strategies (Sandford et al, 2008:422). The Olympic Education program that took place in Greece before the 2004 Athens Olympics evidences this fact, as 33% of the students’ time in this educational intervention actively involved the Arts and theory-based lessons, planned to immerse the students in Olympic values to and to transfer them to wider positive social behaviors and attitudes (Hassandra et al, 2007). Such educational programs have already been in place in the UK for over seven years ahead of the opening of the London Olympics (see http://www.london2012.com/about-us/inspire/inspire-programme/.

Such programs have again revitalized the Olympic Education activity of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 2007 the IOC released a work-program to be used by teachers and tertiary educators, called, Teaching Values: an Olympic Educational Toolkit (IOC, 2007), which presented pedagogical guidelines that are already or should be embedded in students’ lives. The Teaching Values program uses strategies such as: dilemmas, role-play and small-group discussions seeking to promote Olympic values such as ‘joy of effort’, ‘fair play’, ‘respect for others’, ‘pursuit of excellence’ and ‘balance between body, will and mind’. Using these methodologies, the IOC document is clearly aiming to challenge sports participants to make ethical decisions (Knijnik & Tavares, 2012).

The Australian Olympic Committee has also developed an Olympic Education strategy that goes far beyond merely teaching sports education. This program is called the A.S.P.I.R.E. school network: A — for attitude, S — for sportsmanship, P– for pride, I — for individuality, R — for respect, and E — for express yourself. ASPIRE provides school teachers with hundreds of resources to relate the Olympic Games to the students’ daily lives. These not only improving students’ knowledge about the Olympics, but also link values and cultural facts that are around or even entrenched in the Olympics, and in London and England as the venue of the 2012 Olympics.

On the ASPIRE website a primary teacher can find lesson plans for all stages of primary education – lessons that go from cultural facts, and English and Australian songs related to the Olympics (like the national anthems); to lessons that discuss traditional recipes of the Olympic host. They include lessons that challenges the students to reflect on an Olympic athlete’s nutritional habits, and their impacts on the body, to lessons that deal with ethical values that are embedded in the ASPIRE purpose.

Is it valuable for a young African migrant living in Western Sydney to learn about and to discuss such values as sportsmanship, or individuality, playing scenarios where she can learn the pride of being satisfied with her own effort, while learning the happiness of being part of a team? Is it positive for a vulnerable migrant young boy just arrived in Australia to learn how to express and speak up by himself, while at the same time learning respect and admiration by others’ achievements? On the same website, a secondary student is able to develop a deep understanding of Australia’s Olympic history by using a diverse range of e-learning milieus – respecting the students’ individual needs and paces, and consequently corroborating with the aims of the ASPIRE program. Using these resources, it’s possible to elaborate on how the Olympic Games have historically been associated to Human and Civil Rights issues – reflecting on race issues raised by the 1968 Games in Mexico, or the Apartheid in South Africa, or even the women’s struggle to participate in the Games. Isn’t this learning especially significant for teenagers who have just started to learn about their own rights as human beings, as well as other’s Human Rights?

The acclaimed Brazilian educator Paulo Freire had a “golden rule” for each teacher and for each educational setting: he stated that any lesson, any educational methodology, any content, in order to be meaningful for the learner should be “rooted in concrete situations” (Freire, 2000:37) – that learning must be always authentic and relevant. Aiming to instill values education within a universal ethical framework known as Olympism, that underpins a contemporary Olympic Education program, reminds us that Freire was and still is right: educators and students must contextualise the learning process towards a momentous and authentic educational process which promotes a better understanding of each of our lives. Is there a better chance for this education than through the Olympic Games, with its glories, defeats, emotions and contradictions?

References:  de Coubertin, P. 1894. The Character of Our Enterprise, [Le caractère de notre enterprise] in, N. MÜLLER (ed.) Olympism, Selected Writings, Pierre de Coubertin 1863 – 1937. Lausanne: International Olympic Committee, 2000, p. 660-663.    Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. (30th Anniversary Edition.) New York: Continuum.   Hassandra, M., M.Goudas, A. Hatzigeorgiadis and Y. Theodorakis. 2007.A fair play intervention program in school Olympic education. European Journal of Pshycology of Education, XXII, no. 2: 127-141.    Knijnik, J., & Tavares, O. (2012). Educating Copacabana: a critical analysis of the “Second Half”, an Olympic education program of Rio 2016. Educational Review, 64(3). Access at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131911.2012.671805

Sandford, R.A., R. Duncombe & K.M. Armour. (2008). The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour. Educational Review 60, n. 4, 419-435.

Dr. Jorge Knijnik is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He hasn’t made the Australian Team to the London Olympics, but will keep trying harder to make the Rio Olympics/2016! Jorge would like to acknowledge his always supportive Royal Vizier, Dr. Peter Horton (James Cook University), for his ‘Olympic’ comments and for adding so much in an earlier version of this article. Some parts of this article have been based on the forthcoming paper “Educating Copacabana: a critical analysis of the ‘Second Half’, an Olympic Education Program of Rio/2016”, by Jorge Knijnik and Otavio Tavares.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,174 other followers

%d bloggers like this: