District to Ban Student-Teacher Facebook Friends

facebook-page-sm250The next time a teacher in the Granite School District in Salt Lake City receives a Facebook friend request from a student, he or she might do well to click “Ignore.”  In an attempt to avoid some of the issues that have popped up elsewhere when students and teachers connect via social networking sites, school officials have proposed a ban on any such online intermingling.

Ben Horsley, spokesman for the District hopes the Facebook ban, which would apply to all employees, will help everyone avoid potentially awkward situations.

“The reality is, they’re called social networking for a reason and when you’re networking for social reasons, you should be doing that with your peers and children and teachers are not peers.  Children should be interacting with their peers and teachers should be able to have some privacy and exclusivity of their own lives.”

Despite the logic of that argument, there are some students who don’t see the benefit of maintaining a professional distance between their teachers and themselves. The fact is that while students and even teachers may insist that Facebook is essential in helping them communicate with each other, it isn’t.  Exchanging email addresses would accomplish the same thing without giving anyone access to anyone’s personal life.

While I understand why a student would enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at a teacher’s life outside the classroom, I don’t get why a teacher would want to be online friends with a student. Isn’t maintaining at least some authoritative distance helpful in the classroom?  What is the advantage of allowing students to pore over your personal photos, read about your weekend and comment on your status?

At the risk of sounding like the old-fashioned fuddy-duddy I probably am,  I will say this:  For years, students and teachers have managed to communicate just fine without connecting on social networking sites.  I think they can continue to do so with no ill consequences.

Image: Gauldo/Flickr

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