Facebook and Students: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Or can we be friends?

Core Knowledge Blog has a post on the issue of students and facebooking. I was thinking earlier today about that very question.

I give students my home number, but not my cell. I have office hours. I have met students at restaurants to study and talk.

fb-theaterBut I have not friended them on facebook. And I don’t intend to.

One issue that students sometimes have with teachers is that they know too much of their private life. If they’re my friends on fb, they will know too much about my private life.

Also, some students don’t understand that being my “friend” doesn’t mean the grades improve.

So I don’t facebook my students.

I have, in the past, been friendly with students. I was actually friends for years with a student who had been in my composition class. I used to have all my classes over to my house for dinner together. It was fun, but some of the students didn’t get that I was still the teacher. So I don’t do that anymore. And I think that I am carrying the wisdom from that experience over to facebook.

I would love to facebook past students. I’d like to keep up with their lives and encourage them.

But I won’t friend my present students because the line between appropriate and inappropriate is just too blurry. I’d rather keep the gap bigger, just in case someone disagrees on where that line actually is.

2 thoughts on “Facebook and Students: Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

  1. This is an interesting dynamic to Web 2.0 and social networking, but I’m not altogether convinced it hasn’t always existed. Would John have friended Jesus if he had a myspace? Surely Plato and Aristotle would have been friends on facebook. Would this have thrown their conversations and corrections/guidance into an awkward or inappropriate place or been a supplement to what was already a mentoring/coaching/leading relationship? It seems there were already cries of Jesus playing favorites if John is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. While perfect, he was also, human. I think we continue to think that we experience something unique because of the changing technologies and the rapidity of change.

    However, love, hate, embarrassment, jealousy, anger, lust, loss, pride, joy, triumph have been since the very beginning. Ultimately, the web still is just another mechanism, another human “shout out” to want to connect with others. Your previous post about Virginia Tech wasn’t so much about who was or was not communicating. There were emails and conversations going on, but there was a gap in truly connecting (in spite of everyone’s best efforts).

    Now that said, in the business world, I do not have any of my current employees that are my friends on facebook. I do have colleagues at the same level or employees in other departments as my friend, but no one I am directly responsible for when it comes to coaching or evaluations. As Whitman states (paraphrasing) am I contradicting? yes..I am a complex individual!

  2. I agree with you that the social dynamic has always existed. That much hasn’t changed. However, I think the relationship Jesus had with his disciples is a lot different than the relationship I have with my students when they are in my class. He knew them well enough to know what they would do and how they would react, after all.

    I also think that John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved because that was the most important appellation he had. It is clear that some of the disciples were closer to Jesus than others, but I hope they didn’t have sibling rivalry type issues.

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