I have had Clarence Fisher’s post on Censorship, Audience, and International Collaboration on my mind ever since he posted it last Thursday. He had some tough decisions to make in his classroom. The dilemma was about a video his kids had created that Clarence said was “Powerful, overtly critical, and possibly in poor taste.” You need to read his post to get the full story and see the video but  Clarence had to make a decision that he still questions as to whether he  did the correct thing in requiring them to make changes……
He phrased it that he “pulled rank on them and told them that they had to edit the piece with the picture out.” He explained that it was being too critical and possibly insensitive or inflammatory towards their audience. In the end, the students decided to edit the video and revise it in ways they felt were more effective.

I think Clarence made the right call. I do know I would have made the same call. But I don’t view Clarence as pulling rank in this situation. I see it as a responsible call made by a caring and responsible teacher. In his post this sentence grabbed my attention:

“The kids producing the piece were never sure, leaning one way and then the other, they could not decide what to do.”

This shows the power of classroom discourse. It is clear that there was much classroom discussion and I have found time and again that this is what blogging and these type of local and global collaborations foster. This is where we have opportunities  to get kids engaged in critical thinking and participating in difficult discussions that really make them think because they are front and center in the involvement. This really wasn’t pulling rank because these kids had ownership of the dilemma. The teacher is the one to make the final call on such dilemmas but I am sure the kids understood his call. Plus the fact that he blogged about it and they can read his thoughts there shows the transparency of the learning with students and teacher. That’s powerful stuff. Just think about what he is teaching and modeling. Yes indeed, powerful stuff.
I find myself facing dilemmas constantly at the elementary level. There is much to think about and consider. I also find that the classroom discourses are of paramount importance. Blogging and videos afford us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing and media production. Students and teachers can have meaningful and powerful discussions and learnings about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with its public nature. That I would submit is good teaching and transforming teaching and learning, all of which Clarence exemplifies so very well.