The Jekyll and Hyde of the Internet

Good and BadThe Toronto Star recently published an article asking, “Is the internet bad for us?”. Good question.

Nothing excites me more than each step forward in doing our best for students. Every concern addressed, every lesson made more impactful, and every child we more effectively connect with is the reward that reenergizes us for the next day. While not always the case, technology and the Internet, in the hands of a determined and mindful teacher, frequently play a role in these steps forward. Though I stand firmly in the camp that says the technology glass is more than half full, I’ve seen enough to know that keeping The Star’s question in the back of our minds is an important part of ensuring the glass doesn’t get knocked over.

The article lists many reasons for concern: family time dominated by laptops and texting, decreased ability to converse, constant desire for affirmation, lack of time alone with one’s thoughts or playing side-by-side with others, etc. The social conflicts inherent in growing up now often play out in cyberspace, where slights, or worse, take on a much greater significance than anything the pre-Internet generation had to face. Growing up is hard, and this generation’s abundant use of the Internet amplifies the highs and lows of this critical stage. Raising children is hard, and the Internet has likewise been a mixed blessing for parenting.

The Internet is here to stay, and to bemoan what’s bad is to miss out on all that’s good. But to revel in the positive without attention to what’s not is unwise. Teaching responsible use of the Internet is now part of what schools must do. Monitoring and having reasonable limits on use at home is now part of what parents must do. With these efforts in place, we can happily answer the opening question, “It could be bad, but not in my family.”

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

A Story of Teenage Transformation

I learn a lot from my boys. Over the summer I learned from my 15-year-old just how transformational others can be for bringing out the best in us.

My son Marcel started working at a local restaurant. He is mopping floors, washing dishes, stocking fridges and cleaning bathrooms. Working hard at what he doesn’t love has not been a forte of his. And though I’ve already hinted at a transformation, that doesn’t mean he’s come to love disinfecting toilets.

He does, however, love his new job with an uncommon exuberance for his otherwise typical teenage persona. Why?

The people he works with. They bring out the best in him. It’s a small family-owned restaurant with staff, mainly adults, who work hard, smart, and side-by-side. They treat this 15-year-old with respect and the expectation that he contribute with as much effort as everyone else. And when the restaurant closes and they do the final cleaning up, they all indulge their common interest in listening to music (“Mom, I can’t believe we all know the same songs!”). This job and the wonderful people there have unleashed a transformation that is spilling over into other parts of his life. Though I still can’t get him to clean our bathrooms, I’m grateful for the tired, self-respecting young man who comes home after work.

An earlier blog post, The Leader in All of Us, was about the many small ways, even inadvertent ways, we can demonstrate leadership. My son is the lucky target of such leadership. The people we surround ourselves with do more than just affect our day. They can profoundly affect who we are.

May we all be surrounded by people who bring out the best in us. And may we all follow their lead.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.