Gordon College program integrates matters of digital literacy and wellness.

EAST PROVIDENCE — We frequently assume and study private wellness and expertise as two separate topics.

However The Gordon College, a non-public faculty in East Windfall recognized for its progressive curriculum, has been instructing the matters collectively for greater than a yr. 

The teachings, that are taught in grades 5 by way of eight by director of well being and wellness Carly Allard and expertise director Marlon Henry, instruct kids on how expertise pertains to their well being, psychological well-being and interpersonal relationships.

In an interview, the academics mentioned what they cowl in school, how their college students have responded and what sorts of methods they attempt to educate the youngsters for navigating the digital world in a wholesome manner. Quotes have been edited for readability and brevity.

What sorts of matters are mentioned within the classes?

Henry: One of many more moderen matters we had been speaking about is digital footprint, so this concept that as a result of issues could disappear from one’s thoughts, doesn’t imply it disappears from the net universe, and what affect that may have on how college students really feel about themselves, but additionally their prospects of who they need to be sooner or later. So we undergo these sequence of classes supplied by Frequent Sense Media, and I’ll come at it from a expertise perspective, and Carly is at all times within the room to chime in every time there’s a well being piece that’s actually tied into it.

Allard: We’re spending a number of time speaking about gender equality and illustration within the media, so then when Marlon is available in and talks about when gender roles present up on-line, it’s a pure match. What info are they selecting to place on-line and the way does that replicate them and their values, whether or not it’s about gender, cyberbullying, or questions like, ‘Can issues actually be deleted off of Snapchat?’ These sorts of conversations.

What’s the faculty’s coverage on cellphone and social media use?

Henry: One in all our insurance policies as a college is having college students go away their cellphones of their lockers. We’re creating an area for them to have a wholesome dialog, a wholesome expertise, with out the nervousness of getting that outdoors world at all times coming in and form of impacting the way in which they assume and really feel about themselves. We’re saying, it is a secure house, and it’s not that expertise isn’t allowed on this house, however we’re going to actually assume critically about how we need to use expertise on this house. In addition they want permission with the intention to use social media on school-issued computer systems. 

What are your greatest considerations for teenagers rising up within the age of expertise?

Allard: My greatest concern is that they’re shedding the abilities for learn how to have in-person communication, with adults or one another. My greatest concern is the shedding of the emotional intelligence piece.

Henry: My biggest concern is absolutely two issues. That’s certainly one of them, nevertheless it’s additionally that they turn into so hooked on 24/7 communication that they don’t know the way and when they should shut it off. That will be actually unhappy to me. I feel we’re discovering extra that youngsters are unable to control that side of their expertise on-line. They need to consistently talk. If somebody texts you, do you at all times want to reply immediately? Issues of that nature. My concern is that they won’t know learn how to set boundaries round their expertise use.

What are some methods you inform the youngsters?

Henry: Shutting it off when it’s getting overwhelming. Numerous the time college students really feel drawn in and like they should proceed to have interaction. In the end, you’ll be able to disconnect if one thing is feeling too intense so that you can deal with. It’s additionally to speak to adults when issues really feel overwhelming or when one thing doesn’t really feel fairly proper. We additionally actually attempt to get on the inadequacies of expressing the total vary of feelings in textual content messaging and at all times being conscious of how they’re partaking, whether or not it’s how they’re studying one thing or how they’re talking with another person. Know that no matter you’re saying might be misinterpreted due to the inadequacy of the software.

Allard: What they do on-line does come again into faculty. Even when it’s not occurring right here, throughout morning advisory, we’ll hear if there was a textual content chain gone improper or there was some drama over the weekend. So we’re instructing them these social abilities equivalent to, ‘OK, that was by way of textual content, however now you need to sit down along with your good friend and speak about how that have felt for them.’ For me, it’s the instruments to know learn how to interact with one another and whether or not that be in a digital house or in real-life situations in particular person. 

How have the youngsters responded?

Allard: They get excited to speak about situations that they’ve seen or they’ve skilled. As a substitute of simply saying, ‘OK, we’re going to study cyberbullying,’ they’re in a position to make use of case situations or use the actions from the teachings to make connections to their lives. They’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, somebody did say one thing like that after to me on-line and it didn’t really feel nice.’ That’s a pleasant match to the social-emotional piece that they’re already studying about, speaking and empathy and taking a number of views.

Henry: Issues occur on a regular basis in our college group, however we don’t at all times get an opportunity to speak about them. If an incident with a specific scholar or two occurs, most of it’s personal and we don’t essentially get to unpack it as a group. So these courses enable us to actually construction a dialog round what’s applicable, what methods of partaking are actually OK and never OK, so truly they’re listening to from their friends in regards to the expertise. They could not know who the scholars had been that had been concerned in a specific incident, however they get to unpack the situation as a case research, which has been superb as a result of it’s extra significant than a hypothetical state of affairs. They’re actually getting to have a look at what their friends are coping with and have an sincere dialog about it.

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