Recently someone has set up a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/LW-Secrets/194398600708258) enabling people to comment anonymously on school affairs. I asked one of the Form 2 (Grade 8) classes at the school to think of the pros and cons of such a page and his is a summary of their points.
- It allows students to express their opinions, possibly leading to positive changes in things like teaching styles and the administration of school rules.
- It allows students to release their anger.
- It provides a new platform for communication.
- The posts are funny and entertaining.
- Students can learn more about school life, school administration and teachers.
- The posts provide common talking points.
- Students may get good advice on how to solve problems or deal with issues.
- It can harm the schools reputation if students are frequently publicly criticizing the school, demonstrating poor language skills, showing poor critical thinking skills, using rude language and/or focusing on trivial gossip.
- It can damage the reputation of individual teachers and students.
- It can harm the self-esteem and/or credibility of individual students and teachers if negative comments are posted about them. Comments can hurt others’ feelings (teachers and/or students).
- It can have a negative effect on relationships between different parties (e.g., between teachers and students, between students and the administration, between different classes, between individuals).
- It can allow for cyber bullying.
- People the comment writers might want to change might become more resistant to change (e.g., The administration, if criticized publicly and rudely, might act defensively and be less willing to change its policies).
- It can waste student’s time.
- It can intrude on people’s right to privacy.
- Students may get bad advice on how to solve problems or deal with issues.
- Comments posted may simply not be true.
- Comments about the school may be posted by outsiders who are simply pretending to be students.
- It promotes the idea of democratic freedom (you can say whatever you want) without responsibility (as you are writing anonymously, you may avoid any negative consequences of your action.
From my point of view, whether or not the secrets page is a good thing depends on how the students are using it. There is the potential to open up constructive dialogues, but there is also great potential for damage. With the anonymous and public posting system, however, there is definitely a lack of any kind of safeguard. If a harassed teacher or student leaves the school or in a worst-case scenario commits suicide, I wonder if page administrator and the individual commenters will accept any responsibility?
What about your own point of view? Leave you comment below