As schools embrace new ways to engage kids, an old question returns: Why don't they feel comfortable raising their hands in the first place?
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The New York Times reports of teachers' experiments with social media sites as "backchannels" during class:
Instead of being a distraction -- an electronic version of note-passing -- the chatter echoed and fed into the main discourse, said Mrs. Olson, who monitored the stream and tried to absorb it into the lesson. She and others say social media, once kept outside the school door, can entice students who rarely raise a hand to express themselves via a medium they find as natural as breathing.
"When we have class discussions, I don't really feel the need to speak up or anything," said one of her students, Justin Lansink, 17. "When you type something down, it's a lot easier to say what I feel."
And the piece ends: "'I agree with Katie!' someone added. 'This class has given us a voice!'"
Yet none of the school or college teachers (or students) brought up what may be the real question: Why are students at all levels so reluctant to, literally, speak up? Why do they feel more comfortable with a lower-bandwidth message to their peers than in using all the resources of the voice, not to mention the face? Is it related to recent handwriting phobia?