Encouraging social competencies

April 4, 2008 at 4:43 pm 1 comment

I met a wonderful young man last week at My Local High School. Polite, friendly, attentive–every librarian’s dream, right? We were supposed to be prepping for his participation in a response panel at today’s NEEMA conference, but it quickly became clear that neither of us really had all that much to say about the subject at hand. After some mildly awkward silences, I asked him what he thought about MySpace.

His answer made a lot of sense to me. “I think they should allow it, ’cause that’s how kids communicate.” Without any prompting on my part, he also addressed some of the parental fears about social networking: “And I don’t think anybody at this school would use it to be violent or make fun of anybody. I mean, you could write something on somebody’s page and try to harass them, but I really don’t think anybody here would do that.”

So here’s a young man who uses MySpace regularly, pays attention to what the adults around him say about it, and believes they’re wrong. But the district has a blanket policy in place that presumes otherwise.

While we were waiting for the conference this morning in the school lobby, I watched a parade of boys and girls come up to this guy, some of them making him laugh, others saying his name from the upstairs hallway, some just wordlessly giving him daps and walking away. And it occurred to me that for a lot of young adults, “social comptency” is woven seamlessly into their daily lives. So many of their friendships and connections are maintained through the simplest acts, through tiny physical gestures and body language that outsiders might not even notice.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  April 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Two things come to mind. First, teens are thinking human beings. I know you’ve heard me say that before. But, the teen you talked to definitely thought about MySpace in the school and he could articulate reasons for its availability. He knows how to make choices and decisions and knows how to be smart when on MySpace. He is a thinking human being.

    Second, some of what I think scares adults about teens is how teens communicate with each other in ways that adults don’t understand. Teens sometimes use a seemingly secret language which means teens are a part of a world rhr adults don’t inhabit. That can be scary for some adults. How to make sure you are scared. Don’t allow for the communication.

    Reply

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