You say you want a revolution…

I find what is happening in the Middle East both fascinating and frightening. Revolutions that started in Tunisia have spread to Egypt and are rumored to be heading to Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, and possibly Libya and more. On one hand, the people have stood up against dictators, corruption, government waste,political imprisonment, and have asked for more rights. On the other hand I fear that if the current leaders are removed that power will move to Muslim extremists much like the Taliban moved into Afghanistan after their internal struggles after getting rid of the Russians. Crafty leaders often use “movements by the people” to gain power and bring in a new type of dictatorship (think Mao in China).
The role of social media in these protests followed the model of the Iran protests two years ago. The “day of rage” last Friday was planned days before on Facebook and Twitter. The Egyptian government has responded by shutting down all ISP connections to the internet and have blocked SMS messages as well. 
Google and Twitter have responded by creating a new service over the weekend. It is a speech-to-tweet service designed for Egyptians to get the word out in their country. It works by turning phone calls into tweets. Egypt may now try to stop all phone lines too. I find this part pretty remarkable. Granted it was not a huge design task technology-wise because the parts to make it happened already exist, but to see Google and Twitter act so quickly and specifically for Egypt is an important act on their part. 
from darkroom productions

I think governments around the world now realize and fear the power of social media to expose their actions. China is censoring what its people can access about Egypt.  I think most governments now realize they can not get away with oppressive treatment of their people without the rest of the world hearing about it through various social media outlets.

Tyrants around the world can try to quiet their people all they want, but when they choose to rise up they can no longer be muzzled by fear and force. It is a new world we live in and I think we have a responsibility to share this with our students. We should show our students how the tools they use for socializing are being used by people around the world to organize their fight for freedom. We should tell our students how new ways to use social media are being invented to support these causes.

How do you talk about these things in your classroom?

4 thoughts on “You say you want a revolution…

  1. Brittany Hamilton

    Wow! This is an amazing piece of information that I didn’t know about. This is something that needs to be told to everyone. Social Media has now become a way for people to voice about how their country is treating them. I definitely do not agree with the fact that Egypt and other countries are taking these privileges away from their citizens. Though I am not a teacher yet I would try to incorporate this into social studies. Maybe with a current issues lesson. This is something that students need to know about. It will also make them appreciate media tools in a social aspect and also in a way to help people in different countries that cant help themselves. Maybe we can make a difference in someone’s life that is reaching out for help. Thanks for letting us know about this piece of information!

  2. Wm Chamberlain

    Actually I was having my current events class begin to explore the situation before the snow came down and the school closed for this week. Interestingly enough my students were not that interested in it. They really can’t comprehend what is going on. What do you expect from a group of kids that learn from textbooks and rarely (if ever) watch the news.

    My hope was, and still is to lead them through questioning to come to an understanding of not just what is happening by why it is happening. I would love for some of them to make the connection between the Egyptian’s use of social media for coordination and the Committees of Correspondence formed before our own revolution. (I doubt they will without a lot of leading though)

    I’m not sure that 12-13 year olds (or most 18-22 year olds) have enough knowledge and understanding to draw connections to these seemingly disparate concepts. How can we get them to see the connections when they have no real understanding of the points they should connect?

  3. concretekax

    Will, don’t know if I have the answer but maybe it is to tell what is happening through stories. I think everyone can relate to a human story in the midst of struggles. That is why I like historical fiction so much.

  4. Anthony

    As an 18-22 year old, the most news I get it whatever I catch on NPR during my 30 min commute to school and a bi-weekly read of the NY-TIMES. Despite my meager attempts to stay informed, and my regular use of social media– the connections between what I want to do for my classroom and the world at large are still VERY hard for me to conceive.

    In regards to Michael’s question, we studied a story about Egypt last week which made informing my 9-10 y/o that the issue even existed feasible. However, I did not go any further than that. I have been focusing my time on teaching through their interests for now– hopefully when i get a little more autonomy with our time, I can help inspire new (at large) interests so they can make connections with just a little guidance.

    Once again, it still seems sooo distant and irrelevant to me. What do y’all think about it? What are you doing about it? Why are you doing whatever you are doing?

    Great post Michael. Thanks for humbling me Chamberlain. 😉


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