Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What the Girls Said

The continuation high school has a school newspaper. (They have a yearbook and they hold a prom, too.) Occasionally, I get to sub the class as I did last week.

Some days they are working on articles for the school paper. But when they're kind of between issues, they get current event type assignments. This time, they had to write up a report on an article that the teacher provided.

The article was on recycling bins that could take data from smart phones to generate targeted ads to passersby. Well, that is, these data sniffing recycling bins had been disabled. (I can't get a good link to the article they were using, but the link provided gives you the gist of the story.)

It was a writing assignment, analyzing the article and picking out the pertinent information. I got the usual questions about what they needed to write. And then a girl in the back of the room had a different comment. She felt the recycling bins were wrong--they were an invasion of a person's privacy.

Then a girl two seats over disagreed. She felt that data gathering wasn't a big deal. She'd rather have people looking in an effort to keep us safe from the crazies out there. Her argument was that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide, so why should you care if people are gathering digital information on you?

In circumstances like these, I like to keep my personal views out of it and let the students debate their own viewpoints. It turned into a good discussion, with both girls making valid points. A couple other students added their thoughts, and while they should have been writing, I figured that the discussion was a good educational use of their time.

Interestingly enough, a couple boys in class got very uncomfortable with the conversation. I wasn't sure why as the girls weren't rude, only offering differing viewpoints. The girls explained to the boys that they were allowed to have a discussion, and if that sort of discussion made the boys uncomfortable, they might have issues with their future wives.

One boy claimed he'd marry a mute girl. (I pointed out that she'd probably use sign language.) Another claimed he'd never marry.

The girls eventually finished their discussion and got back to work. One of the boys asked me what significance the article had. I pointed to the two girls. "What they said."


  1. Good for the girls! Sounds like they had a good discussion. Those boys who were uncomfortable can suck it up.

  2. That's good that the girls were able to talk about it - sad for the boys they couldn't join in.

  3. I agree with comments .. discussions don't have to be threatening. Well done for opening it up!


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