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Thursday, 26 April 2007

Are your children safe at school?

In Australia recently we have already had a mobile phone incident that caused a great deal of grief for those innocent but did bring to light the fact that bullying is alive and well in our schools. A reality we had all hoped was not but is. Xavier pupils suspended after bullying caught on film Xavier College Reeling Over Fight Videos Xavier College Fight Club Today, it appears we have another and within the same Catholic system. The year 10 boys of St.Bede's were today taken into an assembly spoken to and sent home with a letter that reads as follows: 26th April 2007
Year 10 Social
Dear Parents/Guardians We apologise for this very late notice, but the Year 10 social scheduled for this evening has been cancelled. An incident of an unfortunate nature, which is of great concern to both St.Bede's and Kilbreda, has resulted in this decision. Students of both schools have been briefed on the situation and we encourage parents to discuss this matter with their son. Should you wish to discuss this matter further please contact your son's House Co-ordinator. We ask that all Year 10 students return the attached reply slip to confirm this letter has been seen by parents. Once again we apologise for any inconvenience and thank families for their support. Mark Jones Assistant Principal - Student Welfare and Management The reply slip is added to the bottom of the above letter. ************************************************************************************************* Wow, what a letter to be given by your son when they return home. Could it be any more cryptic? Here I have been running around in circles to purchase a neat suit for my son to wear paying a fortune and with only a few hours notice, told the event is canceled. The brain then shifts into, this must be really serious for the schools to pull the social, best I talk to my son. Now a little context. My son spoke to me on the weekend about the fact that a boy from St Bede's had images sent to his phone, allegedly from a year 10 girl at Kilbreda. The alleged images where of the girl, of her breasts and other parts of her body, naked and allegedly sent from her phone to the others number and handset. My son advised me that he had been shown the images and then walked away, along with my youngest son who was also present and shown the images, not asked they were told to look and they did. Neither of my children believed that it was proper to show them but they also realised that it would not have been an issue, if the girl had not taken and sent the images. We spoke at length about the situation and at the end of our discussions, the boys had great compassion for the young lady as I advised that to do such a thing, indicates that she may well have low self esteem and that in sending the images she was seeking attention. In such a case, I would have thought counseling the young lady of the potential dangers of doing what has been alleged and getting to the cause of her issues and problems would have been advisable. I know if it was my child I would be making sure, I got onto any such issues immediately, to help them, so they do not make such a mistake again. A mistake that puts oneself in a position of potential harm, if the images get into the wrong hands. Now, remember, we are talking here about someone who is alleged to have sent the images, someone who is alleged to have received them and shown mates. We are not talking about a child who has received images and uploaded them to a computer, to their myspace or other social networking account, for the world to see. The child did as many teenage boys would do, shown his mates. He has committed no crime, although obviously he too should be counseled, as in showing them, he has made public knowledge of the existence of these images and the source as I understand it showing up on his handset, which could have ramifications for a young lady, who is obviously already troubled. He could have done far worse, but did not and I feel that he should be given credit for at least restraining himself from making it an open slather on the www. My was interrogated by a staff member at St.Bede's earlier this week as for some reason his name has been brought into the situation. Why? Because he was shown the images and was honest about it. From what I am told, the way he was treated was not in a manner I as an educator would approve of and as a mother am infuriated over. I beg the question here too, why was my younger son, not also questioned as he was with his brother at the time and saw what he saw. Discrimination, YES. It appears and is alleged that the young lady has been pulling names out of the air and blaming everyone but herself. It is alleged that today, students are talking about the boys being the ones at fault, by downloading images of photo bucket and doctoring them and then sending them to the young lads phone - um, but if what I am told is true, her number is attached to the images. The next story is that someone stole her phone and sent the images - did she or her parents report the loss of the phone? How and when did she get it back? What date were the images sent to the young boys phone? Another story, one that has now placed my eldest in fear of even catching the train to school now, is that the young lady has an 18 year old boyfriend and he really wants to TALK to my son and a couple of other boys. So, my son has done nothing other than view images shown, told me about it as he is responsible and after rationale logical discussions at home, he is subjected to the anger of staff, discriminated against (along with other boys), as not all boys viewing the material were hauled into the co-ordinators office. They were somehow exclusively selected, according to what criteria I am not sure. My son, is now being defamed, victimized by staff at the school and other students, blamed for the school social being canceled, placed in fear, that someone will now hurt him (the young ladies boyfriend) and ridiculed by other students from Kilbreda and if what I hear is the truth, his name and the name of others who were shown the images, named by staff at Kilbreda to other students. However these images came to be, however they came to be on the young lads handset, in fact the images themselves now have little relevance to me. What is of relevance and of great concern is that the schools collectively have managed to create problems for many students, all as a result of a young lady allegedly photographing herself naked and sending the images. St.Bede's have sent home a letter, asking the boys to discuss the situation with their parents. Well apart from those currently victimised by the very staff, I have entrusted to look after my son in their charge throughout his education, the only thing anyone else can talk to their parents about, is whatever nonsense they have heard at school, after school on their way home, walking, on the bus, on the train. Stories that I am sure by tomorrow will have morphed into something that will have taken on a life of there own, as is always the case, when the truth is concealed. The actions of both schools, in my opinion, is shortsighted and narrow minded and that is being kind. The truth is that there actions have already caused greater harm, than the actual images. Both schools have now allowed for other students in their charge, to suffer harm and acted in a way that is causing detriment to many others, including my son. If what I am told is the truth and I believe it is after speaking to one of the school staff this afternoon, then there are many issues here and ones that I am not going to allow be swept under the carpet. What has happened is not 'unfortunate', it is tragic and through trying to conceal the situation has already spiraled out of control. and is impacting on many who are innocent. Put simply this is wrong and I now have to wonder about the safety of my children in the hands of the school and system I have entrusted them too, just as the parents of children at Xavier College. After all I have been researching and all those I have been collaborating with, I am wondering if we should not go back a step and consider the very nature and culture of the establishments we entrust learners too. Are they not there to protect all. Do children throw away their rights under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act of Australia, when they walk onto the grounds of these establishments, Acts established to protect all from 'discrimination'? Are administrators and co-coordinators now qualified to place students under pressure, interrogating them without notifying their parents? Are educational institutions more concerned about their reputations than the welfare of ALL of their students, not just some? How can such institutions, believe that cover ups are better than the truth? Is not the truth and the telling of the truth an element or part of the Catholic ethos or have I read a different version of the bible and Human Rights and Discrimination Legislation in Australia to those in charge? How do we break this culture, one that as is evidenced by the Xavier incident where many were caused harm by the schools constant denial of what had happened, only to have to admit it was true when the media brought it to light. How do we ever get inside these institutions to help them and their charges to understand the potential dangers not just of the Internet but of mobile phones. How teachers, students and parents protect themselves or each other in an age of technology, that is going to advance more rapidly than ever, with the advent of web 2.0 and web 3.0 and beyond technologies, if cases that should trigger alarm bells for the absolute critical need for such education, such learning is blocked by administrators, who wish to conceal the truth. This situation, should have been seen as one of learning. One where there is an acknowledgment that the misuse of technology can cause harm and in this case to many. In so doing an acknowledgment that the institutions charges require information and education. Instead, we see punishment, blame, victimization, fear, interrogation and cover up - a very sad indictment indeed. I have no doubt that if anyone from either school, stumbles across this post, that both of my children will suffer at the hands of those I entrust them into each day. I have been given nothing else to indicate that this will not be the case. Why? When speaking with the coordinator (as the letter advises), I was told that they were not aware of Zane being questioned, that they did not know the whole story and were more intent on telling me that my son who they know has suffered from chronic fatigue for years, was in fact fine (another teacher I have now been told by my son has told him, he does not suffer the condition, something I have been fighting for the school staff to understand for years, but still do not) and they were worried about his learning in a few subjects. I assume that teachers now have medical degrees Why am I told to contact the coordinator for further information when they had no answers to any of my questions? This situation with limited technological involvement highlights many problems, provides many questions but also I hope provides the impetus for institutions to begin addressing bullying by staff or students, awareness and safe use of all technology, so that we can limit the dangers and the negative impact and harm that can be caused to so many. I will keep you posted. If anyone has had similar experiences, please speak up. The time has come when parents and those of us responsible and aware in our fields spoke up and help to protect our children and other children from similar fates. As a small addition to my comments after watching the video of 'Are Schools Killing Creativity', after reflecting on this situation, I can only say, that 'Schools are not only killing creativity, they are killing the will to learn or trust'.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Response to ABC - Do They Know What They Say!

Below maybe the ramblings of a mad women, but as usual, from my head alone at this time, and I have just posted to the ABC, discussion board. After listening to the show and reading the comments, I tend to agree with those in the younger demographic, were where the children or other users of social networking technologies. Being involved in e-learning and classed by some as expert in my field, I like all have a great deal to learn and at a much faster pace, not to do so, is to remain disconnected from society as it is today. I am seeing a great deal of scare mongering in the press, all I seem to read is 'danger' 'social networking tools are dangerous', 'don't let your kids near a computer without supervision and it gets worse. Is it public knowledge that the NSW education system has integrated software into their system that will stop users in their educational institutions from even viewing the myriad of tools, that are a part of daily life for the majority of our youth, used by business, industry in this country and many others? This is spreading throughout the states and territories, blocking all from their very existence. How can we do this? Are we not then hindering the learning of our youth of our future? Instead of blocking we need to inform, educate and show all how to use technology in a safe way. We need to develop a way, to get kids and parents engaged together in their cyberspace journey's, just as we once all sat down to watch television after dinner, maybe that now changes to sharing and learning together, so as not to fear, but enjoy and connect as parent and child - currently by trying to force our children to be a part of a world that we once new, we are allowing the gap between us to widen, when simply by accepting that the world has changed, that our children learn and connect with others in a different way and joining their journey, we can reduce the gap and enjoy new interactions with our children - let them lead the way and as you go on the adventure with them, work together to ensure that all are protected. Cyberspace can be dangerous yes, I have recently suffered from a cyber attack in what is regarded as an educational community for e-learning, funded by the government, so bullying and all the negatives you can conjur in a childs world, too exist in the professional. I could have simply walked away from anything to do with technology, however, as someone who has been victim to foul play on the net, as a single mum of two teenage boys, as someone who works to promote change in our educational institutions, in order that we all provide an environment and learning that suits the needs of our learners, I see it as my role, to ensure that the fear mongering reduces and we all move towards and understanding of and safe use of the technological marvels offered to us all. We teach our children to drive a car safely, we have solicitors and others read contracts for us to ensure our safety, we teach children how to cross the road safely, we provide anti bullying programs in schools, so why not use the same concept of introducing preventative measures, not blocking but informed and safe use - the car did not disappear nor will technology - it is time to accept, inform, educate, learn, drive your own cyberspace journey so that it harms no other and protect oneself from potential danger. To do anything else, is to cripple our youth and the future of our society.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Growing Up In The Digital Age

Growing Up In The Digital Age I urge you to take a look at this site. There is important information to be gained and I believe has been brought into the public arena on this day, because of the tragic news of the suicide pact between the two 16 year old girls in Australia. An event that has shocked and distressed the nation.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

The Future of Online Professional Communities

Recent events, have afforded me the opportunity to sit and reflect. Reflection on my place within a professional forum, I have been a part of since the early 2000's AFLF . Over the years, the Forum or Community, has provided me with an environment that connected and engaged me, with many others in the e-learning world, predominantly within the Australian VTE system. The reach expanding overtime reflecting a more cross sectoral membership - Primary, Secondary, University, Industry and International guests and members. I have shared my learning, experiences and thoughts, collaborated in research and the development of materials, engaged in online conferences, learned more than I thought I ever could from others willing to openly share their own learning, experiences and thoughts, been kept up to date with the latest changes in e-learning and that is no mean feat as we all know. The community was often a breath of fresh air. A place I could go and connect with others with a passion and unquenchable thirst for learning and the spirit of sharing. At the end of a day on campus, where you have been running from people, wanting to stop you mention anything 'e', the respite within the community and the connectedness felt upon entering, helped make the day worthwhile. Now, the community for me, has become a place that is not safe, something died recently and has forced me into finding an environment where I can feel safe and continue to share and learn. Why? Some may think it is because of the posts that were made and the subsequent emails I received but that is not the reason. Yes, I was 'freaked out', I questioned my actions and over and over as if looking for a reason as to why I deserved, what I got. 'I must have done something wrong'. With those irrational thoughts taken out of the equation, I was determined to go back into the community and post, as if nothing happened, keep the flow and show others that they would not be intimidated and also ensure all were aware of how the members had rallied around me, with a protective forcefield, to protect not only my credibility but 'me' the person'. The compassion and the efforts made will never be forgotten. So, what is it? Why do I not wish to enter a community proven to be of great value in ones own learning, proven to have a heart and soul? Surely such a place is what dreams are made of and are rare gems in a myriad of learning communities, for them to be a reality in ones life, should never be thrown away. Unfortunately, those managing operations have requested that I not post for 'the time being'. I was a little shocked I must admit and as the only reason I have been given has been 'management are looking into the issues', I am still perplexed. Why? Management, continued to allow a new member, who had been abusive etc, to post long after complaints were made and after I had been asked not to post. The abuse was directed at others, as I was not there. It appears that he was only banned or barred after he made two passing shots and everyone, cited and bible scripture and changed his icon from an 'eye' to what appears to be 'osama bin laden' or similar person. I sit here even now wondering why I was removed, yet someone negative and abusive, placing people in fear was allowed to continue wreaking havoc and spewing their bile and vitriol at the community and it's members. For me now there is only one answer, if I am to be removed from a community that I was invited into for no good reason that I can see, apart from silencing me, and others who abuse people and one for many years remain, and members afforded little protection, then I need to find another environment in which to continue sharing and learning. One where I am in control and can select those I wish to work with, one where I can block any potential dangers. What is the future then of online communities? Those that I have been engaged in over the years have been established by organisations and therefore centralised, run by a team who monitor,control and provide the direction of the learning, to achieve a range of outcomes, of which are reported on regularly to those who provide the funding. They choose the platform for their target audience. Members are invited to engage in monthly sessions on new topics, provided with on line learning opportunities, take part in online events and conferences and the like. Is this how they will continue or with the advent of more and more Web 2.0- Web 3.0 technologies will we see greater decentralization? I suggest that we are going to see individuals, including professionals, researching and identifying their particular needs and creating or having created by others, the best environment for their work, sharing, learning, collaboration. The environment that will be the best value add, the best ROI. I suggest the term 'mash up' and others similar that will be created, will become a household and workplace name. People everywhere working within environments they created or are tailored for them. Environments that they can keep safe, environments that individuals control. The next step in my journey is to find such an environment, maybe blogger will be it, maybe I will also have a myspace, or maybe someone out there will accept a wish list from me and develop an environment that I feel provides me with the functionality to continue to connect, engage, collaborate, share and learn.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Education: The Ultimate Control

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&mode=related&search= I have just watched the youtube - Do schools kill creativity? - boy did it strike a cord. Creativity, Education, Future - Education: The Ultimate Control I have listed below a number of statements that I have found to be of interest and worth contemplation and I am hoping may prompt a little debate, as I am sure not all will agree with the premise, that 'Schools kill Creativity', or more to the point, 'Education and Educators are killing creativity'. The comments below come from my mind alone at this time - right or wrong! In my mind, the premise of this presentation is correct, in that I see Education as killing creativity. As a lecturer in TAFE/VTE/VET, in Australia, you are still confined to teaching a curriculum - interesting, what happened to the training packages that would allow variety and industry based needs would be fulfilled? Is it not our role in this sector/system to provide our learners with the best learning possible and equip them the best we can, on their journey in our charge? Have we not yet realised the potential of our learners, I would say, Yes. On the whole from my experience in the Secondary and VTE sector in the Business Arena, Marketing, Advertising, International Business, the training packages have provided nothing more than a vast choice of 'competencies' that are bundled by Institutes in a fashion that suits the administration. Educators often have little or no say in the bundling. I can remember only one meeting when training packages were introduced and then it was to basically teach us, the language and how to cut and paste, the elements and competencies, etc into our own Semester Schedules, that were required for AQTF auditing purposed and they had to have the correct headers/footers?????????? The training packages provide for many types of assessment, provide flexibility, choice, however how many of your colleagues are using any form of assessment outside of, tests, exams, reports, research, essays, powerpoint presentations???? I would suggest not many. Why? Administrative convenience, you are less likely to have a learner complain about a result if you have a test or exam mark that reflects the learners ability?????? What the................. Can anyone tell me exactly how a test, in the most asking you to regurgitate something read or something said, reflects anything other than a good memory and the ability to regurgitate succinctly through the use of literacy skills. Imagine a room of fluffy birman cats sitting in your room regurgitating food and fur balls, all they have eaten and washed off their coats, and there in my eyes you have a group of learners sitting an exam. A short sighted, narrow minded thought, maybe but it is my thought and a belief I stand by. Have you tried to teach differently to the accepted and expected model - 'teacher knows all and will impart all to the learner model, you now, stand up the front and with the power of osmosis at your magical finger tips, all you say will flow through the air and implant itself in each learners memory? I have and whilst, I have had the blessing of the learners I have endured the wrath of staff, who believe that I am doing the learners a disservice, by not complying and not forcing myself to follow the old ways, I am a 'trouble maker' and less of a teacher and person, so it would seem as one is treated somewhat differently. There is no need to even mention e-learning, just mention 'practice firm' and you will have people complaining all around the place, about how lazy you are, that you just set everything up, provide a guide and act as a mentor and do no teaching, you are a bludger worthy of hauling before management for your poor attitude towards your teaching. Hello, out there, has anyone consulted the learners? Has anyone talked to those who went through the practice firm? Of course not! Sorry folks, but surely my role as an educator is to provide a base for the learner, an understanding of the direction in which each unit, each course can and may take them, allow them to venture on a new exploration, one where making mistakes, identifying them, collaborating, engaging with others to find solutions. Am I not there to allow them to question, not just my ideas and concepts but those of many in the world. Should I not provide a context, a home for their learning, a safe one, where each idea, each journey, each individual and their learning and contributions are valued at all times. An environment that provides skills far and beyond those academic, skills that will allow learners to continue their learning, in order that they may survive if not flourish, in a future they will see and we will not. If humanly possible should I not seek an environment for the learners, that may simulate a potential workplace or at the very least an environment fostered whereby business protocols, ways of operating, are learned as an added bonus to anything academic. To operate in the above manner, will undoubtedly cause heartache but to give up on such ideals and ideals they well maybe to some, for me a reality and one worth fighting for on behalf of the learners. You may even experience sabotage, as I did. In taking a leave of absence, I returned to find that within 6 months, those staff who replaced me in the Practice Firm, had decided that the students did not learn anything, that it was in fact not conducive to learning because it was to hard to teach?????? What the....... interesting 'to hard to teach' and we completely erode, years of set up and work, fantastic outcomes - learners had learned from experience, learned by doing - Slam and the program was gone. From being the first Practice Firm to utilize the program in marketing, of which many followed suit and continue to grow today, we became the first casualty. We can apply this experience to any situation where there exists differences in thinking relating to teacher vs learner, and I still hear to much about the teacher, and not enough about the learner, at the coal face. Many educators do not wish to lose control and they feel they are, if they give an inch of independence, of creative licence to the learner. Why, why is such control needed? Can any of us as educators profess to know all? I for one can not.I learn many new things everyday and mostly from the learners and my children who peek my curiosity, so I google, I talk to others, I find out more, not because I have to, because I enjoy doing so and choose to do so - what is the other option, I am forced into watching reality tv which is as far away from any reality there could ever be (sorry do not get how locking people up in a house for months and playing mind games, manipulating the people and their environment, can be seen as anything other than some weird alien experiment). With that as the alternative, I know what I wish my reality to be. Surely fostering creativity, allowing exploration, saying it's okay to make mistakes, providing learners with a choice of pathways for their journey, not as a fixed direction, but a map, that allows one to veer off and explore other areas of interest. The creation of an environment or community of sharing, collaboration, a view of the world that exists today and acknowledgment that we can not even know how the world will be next year thus we provide the opportunity to learn new skills, find new solutions, each individual and owned by the individual for continued learning, so that they may flourish in all that they do, present and future. To me, it is only in such ways, that education will become anymore than, a long continuum to university entrance. We will continue to crush learners with archaic methodology, because educators are scared, they fear losing control, they can not and still many refuse to even contemplate the notion. Until TAFE/VTE stops operating as a conduit to university (of course that is where they make their money with the international students, with bridging courses etc),educators that work right along side us, will still profess to be the 'sage on the stage'. Until TAFE/VTE recognize that professional development in new pedagogy is important and relevant, rather than professional development on ' how to project your voice in lectures', uh huh, a PD offering in 2007 and a distinct absence of anything related to technology, education, pedagogy, learners and learning, our learners have no chance. I for one am scared, not of losing control, 28 years as an educator and I have never been in control, the learners have always been the drivers, or that is what I believed as it was them who learned, their experience. I am scared for the children of today and tomorrow, My own children will be of VTE age in the next couple of years and what do they face, four walls, an overhead projector or data show if fortunate enough, lectured at, told what to do, regurgitating the same information as hundreds, maybe thousands before them and having every ounce of creativity and I would suggest a great deal of their already formed web identities, their identity is locked away for at least eight hours, five days a week. And we call this Education! Education is not only killing creativity. Education is killing creativity, identity, individuality and independence! Comments from the Presentation "We all have a deep affinity with education" "Children today will retire in 2065 - we can not prepare them for the future" "Capacity for innovation in our children" "Extraordinary talents - all children have talents" "Creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same status" "Kids will take a chance, if they don't know they will give it a go". "If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original". "Educating people out of their creative capacities" We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it, we are educated out of it" Countries around the world have the same hierarchical structure
  • Maths Languages
  • Humanities
  • Arts
  • Art Music
  • Dram Dance
"Not a school on the planet that teaches dance as we teach maths". "Start to educate progressively, from the waist up, more and more concentrating on the head and leaning to one side" "Output of education - Purpose to produce university professors" "Professors live in their heads, body a form of transport for their heads" "Most useful subjects at the top - steering away with benine advice from things liked" Education - protracted university entrance "Can not continue to operate in this manner" "Degrees not worth anything now, you need masters, phd - academic inflation" Radical change to the way we view intelligence
  • Diverse
  • Dynamic
  • Distinct
"Ballet- people who need to move to think"! "Human Ecology, we need to see and explore the richness of human capacity". "Education has stripped our minds, like a miner, stripping our earth of precious resources. We need to rethink the way we educate our children". "We need to focus on the gift of the human imagination, use it wisely, seeing creative capacities for what they are and our children for the future they are, a future we may not see, but they will". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&mode=related&search=

Why is Bullying so Prevalent in Society Today?

The current discussions around bullying and my own experiences have given me a great deal to ponder. With all the postulating however, all I can come up with are questions and no definitive answers. I have however tried to provide a little insight from my own experiences with regards to the action of bullying. How often have we seen or heard about colleagues in the 'physical workplace', who have been or are being bullied? How often have we heard of the silence from others in close proximity to the victim? How often do our children cry out for help against a bully, or tell us of a bully at school? Why is it like this? Why are we so afraid? What are we afraid of? Where are we failing as a society? We have antibullying programs, legislation to protect the workforce and citizens, whistleblower protection (or so it is said), so why is bullying physical or online increasing and not decreasing?

The high cost of bullying | PD articles | The Australian

Workplace Bullying - Don't be a victim!

Does Bullying Do Harm?

Scenario one: The Year 1970 A child the age of 9, quiet and shy, eager to learn and well behaved at all times in school. Other children unable to stand the 'goody two shoes' nature of their class mate, constantly tease the child, taunting with words for months, with the end result being the child withdraws from as much interaction with the school community as is humanly possible. Children still feeling they are not done, that they really need to let the child know that there way is right and so they need to change and follow the popular ones, plot a way to get their message through. Lunchtime and those fortunate to have lunch orders, leave the school grounds, across the school crossing to the milk bar, to collect their orders, a regular event. On this day, the quiet child, makes her way across the school crossing, half way across, the voices of others ringing in her ears from behind her, a noise not known to her is present, Thwack, as the child hits the road, face down, arm locked in a strange position and pain never felt before. Gaining footing, no tears, holding the sore arm, continuing to the milk bar. Lunch in hand, cautiously crossing the road back to school, finding a quiet place behind a building, away from all to eat lunch. Time has little significance, the bell is not heard, the world has changed for this child. Maybe it had already changed and it was not recognised but the physical pain and the ruminating, have triggered a change in the child, one that will affect their life, potentially change their reality. Teachers looking for the child, two hours since the bell rang. Found, sitting holding the injured arm and staring blankly, no movements apart from breath and eyes. Taken to first aid, determined that the bone sticking out of the arm indicates a serious break. Parents called, hospital, a significant break, enormous pain but never a tear, plaster then home. Parents work with the child, finally understanding the chain of events. Asked why teachers were not told "I was to scared" replies the child, "scared of what"? Ask the parents, "Everything and Everyone". Complaint to school, students questioned, "We did not see anything" the common response, NO ACTION taken, No evidence. Return to school and continue for years, quiet, a loner, chased home from school, never again to complain, always pretending that all is okay, to scared, unaware of any human rights. Silence, Isolation, Loneliness, Stripped of so much at such a young age Scenario 2: The year 2005 A wonderful opportunity presented, a new project, one seen as a challenge, exciting and fun. At the outset aware of a possible antagonist but loathe to be concerned about it. A job to be done and the perfectionist rises to ensure all is done to the best of their ability. The jibes begin, the abusive phone calls at work, everything they antagonist can do, to try and unsettle, discredit the project and the person. Each act instilling a little more fear and questions. "Why is this happening? What have I done wrong? Why do I deserve this? When will it end"? Reluctant to advise management, a new job, no trouble wanted, "Maybe they will think I have done something wrong"? Continues in silence but then too much. Management advised, kind and compassionate and discuss measures in order to protect the project and the person. Actions of bullying, intimidation continue, others including management bearing witness, devolving of responsibility, all of a sudden feeling alone. Determined to deal with it, determined to cope, have to, otherwise seen as weak and maybe incompetent, constantly questioning everything, especially their own actions, "I must have done something wrong", I must deserve this. Without noticing, BRAIN CRASH, no longer coping, no longer functioning. To scared not to go to work, to scared not to go to work, need protection but that has vanished, need someone to talk to but all have shut off, a workcover claim the reason. Scared to tell family and friends, a failure, how could they be told?, they would not understand. Locked in the house, no phones answered, computers off, mail unopened, robotic functioning all that is left for basic survival. Nothing brings a smile, distanced from children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, nothing left, why bother, why continue, The Black Dog, has descended. Claim upheld, evidence strong but changes nothing. Stripped of the new job, contract not renewed, colleagues bar two, never contact, distance completely, rebuilding of a life, one where there is happiness and no fear, one where connecting with ones children is greater than a basic acknowledgment and ensuring they are fed and have clean clothes. Slowly the ability to connect with family returns, once again driving the car, enter a large shopping centre but the ability to answer the phone or open the mail or turn on the computer, still a huge challenge, affected by the bullying done via email, phone and letter. Did anyone stand up, yes but only two completely, others reluctant too as it may affect future revenue in the negative if word gets out. To this day only those directly involved have the knowledge, the rest would have to lift up the dusty old carpet to find the truth and no one likes to touch it, it is already badly soiled. Vindicated yes, Stripped of Employment, Stripped of Confidence and Self Esteem, Stripped of feeling useful in the chosen field, made to feel weak, "You should have coped" constantly whispering and heard but only by one. Silence and Isolation very much ingrained in their reality. Scenario 3: The year 2007 Contributing online in forum, one invited back into after remaining silent for sometime. Six months of positive interaction, engagement. Learning for the contributor from the sharing, collaboration via discussion, hopefully learning too for all others within the community and engaged in specific threads. A post, admittedly that is long, intentions pure, one link may disappear, thus all contained at the link, is copied to the post. Not all fits within one post, so breaks it up to ensure that all links, 1000 of them are captured and stored in the community for future reference, after all the post was specifically designed for Resources/Links. Attacks begin but not only against the contributor, derogatory comments, demeaning the efforts of all within the community who do not agree, with one entity. An overwhelming sense of responsibility, after all it was the multiple posts (first time ever done), caused the ruckus. Told in the past to encourage members to travel down the agree to disagree path, that is the one chosen, no notice taken, instead attacks continue, guidance offered, specialists to seek offered, validation of the persons position, trying to steer them into creating a thread of their own. Still no notice taken and person advised frankly that enough is enough, it is all tiring, unwarranted, unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Publicly advised that the forum management would be asked to intervene. Management does so and person either cancels or has cancelled the privilege of belonging to the community due to their actions. Back in posting, feeling secure and protected. Emails begin to come in, unpleasant and unwarranted, threatening and fraudulent. What was going on? Is this now going to see a continuation of the bullying publicly? Yes. Legal authorities advised, management advised. Supporters bolstering the spirit with public posts, encouragement to continue posting. Slam, the steel door shits, "We believe it would be best if you did not post for the time being"? Why? "Management are looking into the issue". What is going on now? I must have done something wrong? Reading through posts, Did I go to far? Was it wrong to let people see and know what was going on? Was it wrong to try and protect and value the contributors on the forum? If I had stayed quiet, none of this would have happened. "Ignore the trolls" spinning in the mind. Still no answers, supporters rallying, but management no talking, silenced and isolated from a community I had hoped I would bring some value to, wishing to repay all others for the value they have brought, past and present, into my personal and professional life. Complain, jump up and down, No, compliance, don't rock the boat, future work, contracts, tenders at risk, in fact a whole identity changed unable to act as one wishes, no voice in the community, no voice in the professional forum once a pleasure and honor to be a part of, Stripped again because of the actions of another, stripped because management themselves I fear are too scared to acknowledge the reality, turning into a matter of their survival and dispensing with anything that may be confronting or difficult. No personal grievance, politics is politics and all need to survive the best they can in such a world, sometimes though it may come at the expense of another. Silence, Isolation, Blaming oneself now a part of daily life. What is common in all three scenarios? Feelings, Thoughts and Actions
  • Fear
  • Incompetence
  • Blame
  • Silence and Silenced
  • Isolation/self and forced
  • Uselessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Stripped
  • Duress
  • Compliance
  • Lack of support
  • Erosion of confidence, self esteem
  • Rights but to assert is dangerous
Children of our world, suffer from bullying every minute of every day. Workers of our world suffer from bullying every minute of every day and I suggest that online contributors using any tool that connects them with others too suffer from bullying every minute of every day. Programs do not seem to be working, they are only as good as the support they are given. Children still learn "not to rock the boat" from an early age, for to do so only brings negative offerings into one's life. One learns of ones rights, but reads or hears how hard it is to assert ones rights, not many invite trouble into their worlds, but when it does enter, often it is easier to let it pass, let it go as the consequences of standing up may be dire. So what is the answer - I throw my hands in the air here - I do not know, is the plain and simple truth however I hope to learn from others, expert in this field so that I may do what I can, to change what appears to be an on-going and increasing battle, in our schools, our neighborhoods, our communities on and off line, our workplaces and other areas of engagement in the www.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Out of Isolation but Silenced nonetheless

Over the last week and a half, I have been subjected to what can only be classed as bullying by at least two members of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. This occurred within the forum itself, for which Alex has provided the links. From being publicly discredited and bullied, I then received emails to my personal email from each of the parties involved. In one I got the following making me feel quite useless within the forum, did everyone feel this way? Well no in fact I have been surrounded by supporters publicly and privately. Why then did this person need to send me an email, that was attacking my work, when they had already seen the attacks in public???? . you need to tone down your enthusiasm .... and reduce your posts .... many people I have spaken to now just direct your comments to the junk or deleted without even opening them ... at least I opened all of them, but honestly many of them ended up in the trash file ...... If I went back to them I am certain I would gain something from them, but like many I just don't have the time ....... there would be many in the same boat as myself .... You are very skillful Jacinta in piecing words together .... but many don't read them as well as they should .... compliments to you on having the skill to do it and I wish I had even a small proportion of your skills ...... From the main attacker in the forum, I received mail and three times I responded advising that I did not wish to communicate with them. Their final response to me was: Ah, excuse me, no you didn't ... but you have now ... go away somewhere and have a little cry now ... So at this point I am sitting at home wondering what is going on, how does a post of the top 10000 web 2.0 sites in a thread I began specifically as links and resources, turn into some weird nightmare, where not only am I being attacked professionally but personally as well, perplexing to say the least. Next I find this in my inbox: From: John Glen Date: Apr 12, 2007 10:54 PM Subject: inappropriate behaviour To: jacinta.gascoigne@gmail.com A complaint has been received by our Department in relation to your miss handling of recent events on the EDNA forum for the Flexible Learning Framework. You will be contacted in the next 24 hours to discuss the resulting legal action taken by the plaintif. Regards John Glen Wow, grand so at 10.54pm, I find out that DEST, is advising me that the plaintiff is seeking legal action against me. My world seemed to spiral out of control. Straight on the phone to a friend, looking up lawyers who may assist me, even though I was not sure what I had done. Then this: From: John Glen Date: Apr 13, 2007 1:44 AM Subject: interum measure To: jacinta.gascoigne@gmail.com I would suggest that in the interum, you make a formal apology in the forum and Invite the plaintif to rejoin before it becomes public knowledge. The other administrators of which you speek are also under investigation and should be kept from the loop at this stage. Regards John Glen .......... Please note that the two emails above came with Australian Government letterhead, so on initial inspection of each and the DEST email address, I was convinced they are real. Whilst staring at the second email in disbelief and ready to throw my laptop across the room as all of a sudden a tool I used for work and research in the e-learning arena had morphed into something sinister and something I wanted to flee from, I noticed my mouse hovering over the email address. Interesting - the DEST email was a cover and under it was an email made up of numbers from sharpemail.co.uk. I decided to google and found that sharpemail in fact a site where you go an register and for free you can create fake emails - for all my years in e-learning I was totally ignorant when it came to such sites. It never entered my mind that such a business could exist. So the emails were not from the Government, so who were they from????. At this stage DEST investigations is looking into the matter and trying to trace the sender as it is interesting that the sender has referred to happenings in the AFLF Forum. DEST of course are very interested as someone has fraudulently represented themselves as being from the government. Are sharp email concerned, well read their reply for yourself: Posted by : neoderanged Date : Fri, 13 April 2007 I apologize, but this doesn't appear to be any truly illegal activity, rather a prank that appears to be legal, you seem to have been pranked. No governing body will contact you via email about pending legal action, they would call you if this was legit. If you are asking for information about who sent this email, I must respect the privacy of our users and by our policy no information is released to the public without proper legal subpoena, in the case of such an event, Dannix Ltd will be more than happy to provide the information. I apologize if this is not the answer you wanted to hear. Sincerely, ~NeoDeranged~ Admin, Sharpmail........... So they have written it off as a Prank. The next challenge for me was to watch the appearance of a new member in the AFLF community, one who would not clearly identify themselves and continued to put myself and others down in the community. His final posts are interesting and intimidating to say the least, even quoting bible scriptures all with evil intent. Interesting to that their original icon was an eye and when you checked the profile it said, pay attention your playing with fire. This person has now been removed from the forum but before they were posted a new icon - one a little scarier maybe than the first - someone playing serious mind games. ............ Whilst I do not claim that my case is a serious as that of Kathy Sierra as I have not had death threats, I have been threatened with the demise of my activity and business ventures online. Years of work and research vanishing before my eyes. As Kathy has stated it is the threat, that in itself is an act and a criminal one - in that sense Kathy and I are one, both threatened and placed in object fear. ................ What I find most interesting in my case, is that the management of the AFLF forum have now asked that I not post 'for the time being' - Why? Why have I been silenced, when I am the victim? I have been advised it is because they a looking into the issues and that is it..................... So I guess in someways evil has won - I have been pushed from a professional environment that I was invited into due to my expertise. ...................... For now I must sit and wait until I am invited back into the forum, however I feel that it is important for all to know that there are many dangers out there in cyberspace as there are in our physical worlds. They are just as dangerous and must be treated as such. ................ My thoughts are of course with Kathy with who I empathise with, no one deserves to have their world turned upside down, to have their trust eroded and their work destroyed.............. I hope that all in cyberspace will work together in a positive manner to protect each other, care for each other and protect themselves as much as possible, just as one would do in any community........... Jacinta Australian Flexible Learning Framework