Crossing the line

touchline.jpg My Twitterific has been running hot in the past few minutes as news about Jabiz Raisdana, otherwise known as Intrepid Teacher, spreads through the blogosphere. The story is a fascinating commentary on the times we live in. Raisdana, a teacher of 8th grade English and humanities classes has been sacked by his school after a member of the community took objection to some material he had posted on his personal blog. Raisdana explains in his latest post:

Due to a lapse in my judgment regarding material posted on my personal blog, my school has asked me to resign. I want you, as the readers of this blog, to know that I am agreeing to this decision without reservation, and I understand the steps taken by the school to protect its reputation.

Now I don’t want to explore the ins and outs of why this happened in this post – what I am fascinated by is the post that Raisdana made to his students in his class blog and, more significantly, the feedback and comments he received from his students and other teachers. Raisdana is obviously active in the online world – he has several blogs operating, has accounts with skype, twitter etc and contributes to online photo collections etc. More significantly, it would appear that he has been successful in using these tools within his classroom teaching, using them to engage his students in powerful learning experiences. The following examples of comments from his students in response to his Good-bye post illustrate the impact of this…

  • Language arts was our favorite class. It was really the only class we had to really think.
  • I will continue posting on my blog regularly. You won’t be able to read my posts, but they will be inspired by you.
  • Now the blog is like one of my life. I love to write on that.
  • I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed every second of Humanities..and that’s basically because you were there teaching us. It was new, fun and at the same time..educational.
  • You made Language Arts class more fun, and more interesting. We didnt sit there and read text books, or memorize vocabulary… you taught us about life.
  • I know I’m the quiet kid who never says much, and thats just the way I am right now. But, you’ve got me thinking. You have us all thinking. We won’t forget you, Mr. Raisdana.
  • When I first saw you I thought that you were some loony computer guy that was inspired about how cool programs are on the computer, but now I look at you as a man who didn’t care about grades but on how we could succeed throughout life, a man who encourages growing awareness on all the world, someone who knows that everyone is ignorant including himself but tries his very best to find out more, a person that strives for cooperation, not competition, and last but not least a man that knows exactly who he wants to influence people.
  • I can’t believe this. Just as we were getting the feel of our blogs, the whole thing came to a screeching halt….You are one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and I will always remember you. I’ve learned more in the one semester you taught me than I ever have before. I appreciate everything. A lot. Thanks again, and I’m going to miss you a lot.
  • I’m proud to have been your student and I always boast about how good a teacher you were.

These are just a few of the comments – it’s worth a read of them all! Seems to me that we could do with a few more Jabiz Raisdanas in our classrooms. In my job I am constantly seeking to encourage and enthuse teachers to do exactly what this young man has been doing – let’s hope this story helps inspire others as they read the testimony of the students, and not (as I fear it may) be used by the naysayers as evidence of the perils of getting involved in the online world!

As Raisdana notes in his personal blog, there are many lessons to be learned here about things such as online identities, teachers as role models, institutionalized education, etc. I’m sure they’ll all get a good airing in future blog entries – but lets for the moment savour those comments from the students, and consider what they have to tell us about the efforts of a passionate and dedicated teacher who incorporates the use of online technologies in a way that is enriching and empowering!

2 thoughts on “Crossing the line

  1. Dear Derek,
    we are living in postmodern times. You are the person who introduced me to the term ‘postmodern’. One of the vagaries of postmodern times is the problems that arise with the pedagogical use of the Internet. They are capricious in the extreme. You will recall the computer audit 2003 – 2004 carried out in an institution wherein we were both employed. The outcome of that excercise could be held up as a study in ignorance, for it was unclear for a considerable period of time what the significance of the findings of that audit meant to the moral integrity of the victims of the audit. I was one of those victims who, with all my experience in life, Science and in Internet computing and its use, had to defend myself against findings that were ultimately in dispute. That Jabiz Raisdanas has been asked to resign is a fact that I would say calls for reflection and appropriate careful investigation. It is my personal experience that ignorance is a most dangerous agent in cases like this. What we are witnessing and considering here is the work and life of a potential giver of knowledge, skills and abilities to the children and future children of Society. This gift is far too precious to be dismissed by the ignorant mechanism of postmodern ways. We have a lot yet to learn about humankind.

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